Zojirushi’s Virtuoso Plus Breadmaker takes the effort out of baking at home

Zojirushi’s Virtuoso Plus Breadmaker takes the effort out of baking at home

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My TikTok feed is mostly cooking tips and recipes, so I’ve seen bread makers a few times on my For You page. This was my first time using one — I had previously been experimenting with baking focaccia in my kitchen. It’s a process that involves a lot of small steps with long waiting periods so that you can get the perfect bake. I’ve been wanting to try making my own sourdough for so long, but the time it takes to create a sourdough starter sounds daunting…and that’s only the first step. Baking is an art form and it requires experience and technique to get the perfect loaf, as well as the right equipment. With the Virtuoso Plus Breadmaker(opens in a new tab), the convenience factor is definitely there. For the most part, all you have to do is add the ingredients and press start. 

Let’s get this bread 

The machine itself is pretty huge, comparable to the size of a large toaster oven or air fryer. It comes with a set of measuring cups, including a separate liquid measuring cup and a tablespoon/teaspoon measuring spoon. The liquid measuring cup is nice because the water measurement in each recipe is written in milliliters. It also comes with a recipe book that includes recipes for all types of bread: white, wheat, gluten-free, vegan, French, rye, 12-grain, and even cake. There are two small metal kneading arms that I placed in the bottom of the bread pan, and then twisted to secure them and make sure they wouldn’t come loose in action. The nonstick bread pan itself is nestled within the larger machine and is very easy to remove and clean. 

First run

I wanted to keep it simple and start with the classic white bread recipe. All you have to do is measure the ingredients and add them to the bread pan in the order that they are listed in the recipe book. The instructions explain that you should nestle the yeast in a little pocket of flour, so that it isn’t touching any of the liquids in the pan. It’s all so simple a 10-year-old could definitely do it. After adding the ingredients, you close the lid, select “course 1 – white”, and press “start”. I ended up adding some dried rosemary and thyme because I’ve been on an herb kick lately. 

flour, yeast, and water inside bread maker pan

Just add in the ingredients and the bread maker does the rest of the work for you.
Credit: Mallory Minich / Mashable

On the face of the machine, you can select the course number, and also the crust color you would like: light, medium, or dark. Adjusting the crust color will change the baking time. I chose a medium crust color and had a beautiful, warm loaf of bread…three and a half hours later. Bread takes time! 

The machine goes through a resting phase, kneads the dough, lets it rise for over an hour, and then bakes it. When the baking time is finished, the machine keeps it warm for the next hour. I took it out as soon as it was done though, because I was very excited. I used oven mitts to flip the pan over and dump the warm bread on my cutting board. It was so crispy on top and soft in the middle. Truly, the ease of the process had me blown away.

finger pressing start button on bread maker control panel

The controls are intuitive and the bread maker is definitely beginner-friendly.
Credit: Mallory Minich / Mashable

If you’ve seen any cooking videos where they slide a knife across a freshly baked crust, that was the sound I heard cutting into my first loaf of bread. I sliced it up and made a bread dip with olive oil, parmesan, and spices. So delicious and tasty, especially with the herbs. I will say the bread is a bit denser than what you expect with a white bread loaf you buy at the store, but I think that’s because it has less sugar and preservatives. The taste is extremely fresh and gives you that rustic home-baked experience. 

Experimenting was fun 

I got to try making lots of different things using the machine. Sourdough was super yummy and easy. I began by making the sourdough starter, which takes a little over an hour to make. Normally, a sourdough starter takes at least a week to ferment when making it from scratch, so I’m not sure how the bread machine pulled this off, but it works. After that, I added the rest of the ingredients and chose the white bread course. It took about four hours to make a fresh sourdough loaf. From the videos I’ve seen online, making this type of bread can be a very arduous and special process, and home cooks take real pride in being able to make it. The Virtuoso Breadmaker Plus makes it so simple. 

On Thanksgiving, I told myself I was going to make Japanese milk buns from scratch as the dinner rolls. Why do I overcommit like this? I used the dough setting of the bread maker, which kneads the ingredients and lets them rise but doesn’t bake them. I added half the amount of yeast I was supposed to when making the dough. So, they were dense and not fluffy like I imagined, but it was my fault so we won’t blame it on the bread maker. 

I made a lovely chicken and rice soup that I thought would pair well with some French bread made using the machine. There is a “European” course setting, which makes the bread denser and more crisp on the outside. The French bread turned out fantastic and was so delicious dipped in my soup. My only qualm with this was that I missed the classic French bread shape. I wanted more crust, which would have been the case if I could lay out the dough and then bake it. The loaf was perfectly baked, though, which I couldn’t guarantee would have happened in my oven. 

loaf of french bread with two slices cut off on cutting board

French bread in loaf form.
Credit: Mallory Minich / Mashable

I even used the bread machine to make strawberry jam. Cut up some strawberries, add a little lemon juice and sugar, and the machine heats the mixture up just enough to create a wonderful homemade jam, more on the liquidy side. It kept in my fridge in a Mason jar and is perfect on crackers or toast. 

strawberry jam on round cracker

I was able to make delicious strawberry jam in the bread maker.
Credit: Mallory Minich / Mashable

Finally, I was curious to see if the machine could make other classic recipes, like banana bread (I added chocolate chips of course), even though there isn’t a recipe for it in the recipe book. I looked online and found a “bread maker banana bread” recipe. It told me to use the “cake” course option on the machine.

chocolate chip banana bread in breadmsker tin

The banana bread was tasty, but I chose the wrong crust color option.
Credit: Mallory Minich / Mashable

I added the ingredients as I found them in the recipe, and let the machine do its thing, but the machine was still set on the medium crust color option, so it definitely ended up a little dry. I love a moist banana bread, and this didn’t give me that at all, but it may have been because I should have chosen the lighter crust color option. Recipes like these will probably take some experimenting when using the bread maker, but there are a lot of recipes online to help. 

Let’s check the numbers 

This bread maker retails for $399.99, which seems pretty pricey for the average person. I really don’t know a lot of twenty-somethings who would be able to drop that kind of dough (see what I did there?). However, if you’re using this machine to make all of your loaves instead of buying them at the grocery store, it could save you money.

*Cracks knuckles* Assuming you’re buying a loaf that is similar in quality to freshly baked white bread, it would probably cost around $4 a loaf. To make white bread in the bread machine, you need bread flour, sugar, dry milk, salt, unsalted butter, and instant yeast. Based on current grocery pricing (yikes – $4.99 for butter), it will cost about $2.44 per loaf of white bread. This means you’re saving $1.66 per loaf, so it will take 241 loaves of bread before you save enough to cover the cost of the bread maker. This cost of using the machine would vary depending on what you’re making. Gluten-free bread is expensive at the store, so I’m sure the Breadmaker Plus would help with the cost. 

If you’re an avid baker and enjoy it as a hobby, you probably aren’t looking to buy a bread maker just to save money on bread, which brings us to….

There are other perks, though  

OK, so obviously there are other factors that need to be taken into account. You may not be saving a ton of money on bread purchases, but the variety of bread types you can make with the Virtuoso Plus is vast. So many things can be baked using this machine, ranging from breads to bagels to pizza dough. It takes a lot of the grunt work out of baking at home, and the final product will be a fresh, warm loaf of bread versus the processed loaf you’d normally buy.

Another perk to using the bread maker is that you know exactly what ingredients are going into it, and there won’t be any other preservatives or sugars added to preserve shelf life. It does take some experimenting when trying to make a recipe that isn’t included in the recipe book. However, there is a “homemade” option on the machine that allows you to create your own custom baking process. When selecting “homemade”, you will enter how much time you want your dough to rest, knead, rise, and bake. You can set the machine to knead and rise multiple times before baking. And this would be helpful for pretty much any dough. 

large silver and black breadmaker appliance

The bread maker will take up some substantial counter space.
Credit: Mallory Minich / Mashable

Is the Zojirushi Virtuoso Plus Breadmaker worth it? 

This item would be great for home cooks who want fresh bread without the hassle. I feel like I am one of those people who doesn’t have the patience to knead the bread, let it rise, knead it, let it rise, etc. The Virtuoso Plus(opens in a new tab) helped me focus on the other recipes I wanted to make for dinner so that the fresh bread could be a lovely addition. If you’re someone who already has home bakery skills, this machine may not leave you with the same satisfaction. Keep honing your craft. I think a lot of big families would enjoy having this because it would definitely end up saving you money and it’s so easy that kids could be included in the process. All in all, I’ve had a wonderful time making recipes using the Virtuoso Plus Breadmaker and I think it’s a nice appliance to add to your kitchen.

We tested the Virtuoso Plus Breadmaker(opens in a new tab) because Zojirushi is the creator of our favorite rice cooker and we wanted to see if its other small appliances are of the same caliber. The Virtuoso Plus was tested for about a month and used to make multiple recipes including the following: white bread, sourdough bread, French bread, dinner roll dough, strawberry jam, and banana bread. We analyzed the ease of using the machine as well as the quality of the products. There were also some other factors taken into account:

  • Taste: Maybe the most important factor. Does the bread taste amazing? No matter what the recipe, we want to see how these recipes taste, especially compared to bread at the grocery, whether it’s bagged or fresh from the bakery. 

  • Variety of products: We figured this machine can make a killer loaf, but what else can it make? There are so many types of bread, cake, and dough. We were curious to see what type of variety this machine can offer. Is it inclusive of other diets, such as gluten-free or vegan? 

  • Cost: How does the cost of the Virtuoso Plus Breadmaker compare to the amount of money you save? For the amount that the bread maker sets you back, we hope that it would save you some money at the grocery store. We calculated (to the best of our ability) how much this machine can save you.

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