The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New, disappointed Bosch Universal Plus Owner

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rustleinthehedgerow's picture
rustleinthehedgerow

New, disappointed Bosch Universal Plus Owner

Okay, first off, I don't have an axe to grind. I'm proud of my German ancestry, love German engineering, drive BMWs, own and love my Bosch dishwasher and Bosch superautomatic coffee machine. I ordered the Bosch Universal Plus because I am an avid bread and pizza maker and got tired of mixing multiple batches of dough in my Kenwood K800 for many-loaf bakes and for pizza parties. (Last year I built an outdoor, wood-fired oven for these big bakes and parties, the most fun project I've ever undertaken, but that's another story.)


For mixing needs for this fun hobby, I progressed from the KitchenAid Professional (dislike KitchenAid intensely, replaced several broken gears over time. When I once called Kitchenaid to complain of the wimpy nature of their mixer, I was told by their customer support that I should stick to the recipes in their booklet and abandon the "machine-stressful" recipes from Maggie Glezer, Joe Ortiz, Peter Reinhart, etc.) to the Kenwood, and finally, after watching some nice demo videos, last month ordered the Bosch Universal Plus from an online store.


The Bosch has filled my need for large batch mixing just fine. But, and here's my big butt, I can't hide my disappointment at the poor performance of the Bosch with small batches of high-hydration dough. I know, I know, the warnings were there to be seen in these forums, if I had only believed others who expressed this same complaint, but I think I couldn't quite bring myself to believe a mixer would be so narrowly focused to big-batch mixing.  For example, there is an excellent recipe on this Website, "Rustic Ciabatta Pizza", that calls for 250 grams of flour in a pretty wet dough. As you stare down through the plastic top of the Bosch at the dough from that recipe lying comfortably on the bottom of the mixer bowl, with the mixer arms kind of waving overhead and occasionally giving the dough a tickle, you're left with the question, "what do I do now?". In my case, I doubled the recipe. That's still not enough material to get the mixer arms involved!


After a little more experimentation, I find I cannot get decent mixing/kneading for any high-hydration recipe under 600 grams of flour. I have quite a few recipes that fall in that range, and they simply won't mix and knead worth a darn, and I have to lug out the Kenwood K800 with paddle attachment. I'm glad nobody answered the Craigslist ad I submitted for the Kenwood. Before someone asks, yep, I tried the Bosch batter beater attachments. The beaters did little better with the Rustic Ciabatta recipe, still leaving 10-20% of the dough untouched. I'm afraid to try them with bigger, stiffer batches. Small, drier dough recipes work better, allowing the dough to form up and be bashed about by the mixer arms.


So, I'm going back to the Kenwood on my swing-out stand, and I'll save the Bosch for the big parties and bread batches, but spending $400+ for a machine with such a glaring weakness was a poor purchase.


Thanks for a chance to rant, I hope I save others some disappointment.


 


 


 

Franko's picture
Franko

This is a timely post for me as I've decided to replace my 18 yr old KA with a Bosch Universal. I can imagine your frustration with it not picking up the dough in the  small batch sizes you describe, but then I wouldn't be using it for anything under 600-700 grams in any case, so not a concern. Still, it's good to know from an actual user rather than what the various sellers will tell you about it's abilities.  I wonder if you added the water gradually to the dry mixture in order for the dough to 'build up' a bit so that the dough arms could reach it , if this might help.  Perhaps the Bosch Compact might be a better choice for folks making smaller batches of dough. Thanks for posting this information.


Franko

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I settled for the Bosch Compact and making smaller batches, just as Franko suggested.  I also ordered it hoping it has a little more muscle than my KAArtisan. I almost ordered the Universal and now your post confirms what seems to be one of the main cons for the UB.


I would have loved the Universal...but since there is usually bread only made for the two of us, mixed by hand and large batches made less often... the best choice for me was the  CB.  


I make up to 30 pizza's for my wfo baking, using my KAArtisan for the initial mixing phase..it handles the job fine..though it can get a little warm.  I burnt up the gears once already on a very stiff dough...so I keep a close hand on it.


I start the pizza dough the night before, bulk ferment, shape into pizza balls the next morning, place back into the frig, remove about 1 to 2 hours before making pizza's..just depends on the house or outside temperature.


It's not all bad you could still order the Compact...it is so light and small, you can easily store it way and pull it out for use.. it takes almost no space up, if left out on the counter.  I love it.


Sylvia


 

chetc's picture
chetc

Sylvia


 


  I am curious, how heavy can you make a batch of 65% hydration dough, without overloading it, will it do a 5lb batch.


 


  Chet

rustleinthehedgerow's picture
rustleinthehedgerow

The Bosch manual says it will handle 12-14 lb batches of dough. I have faith in the power of that 800 watt motor, and 65% hydration should actually be easier on the machine than a very dry, stiff dough, so (I think) no problem.

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I will always prefer to make my bread by hand and get the best results by hand.  I have only had the Bcompact for a short time.  So far I've mixed up dough for only for two loaves at a time..JHPain Rustic, which I posted about on my blog, ..the dough weighs apx. just under 3 1/2 lbs.  The dough does creep up a bit on the hook, where there is a plastic cover on top to help with the dough when this happens...I mainly use my mixers for batters in cakes, cookies, frosting, whipping meringues, etc.  I also love and use the extra attachments, such as the slicing disks, ect.  The mixer bowl sticker says it will handle up to 5-6 lb. dough cap. that seems like a lot.  The bowl actually looks a wee bit smaller than the one on my KAArtisan mixer.


 I bought it hoping it would have the muscle to handle a brioche type dough better than my KAA. I haven't made brioche yet in my BC.  Since I've been watching my weight and loosing a few...I have cut back on my baking...or giving away most of what I do bake.


Sylvia

rustleinthehedgerow's picture
rustleinthehedgerow

Sylvia, you made a better mixer choice than I.


Making up to 30 pizzas, isn't that the most fun party? I can't think of a dinner party that takes more work (chopping all those topping ingredients, helping people form and stretch or toss pizzas, tending the oven for hours) and the cleanup afterward! Ha! But what an absolute blast!


Like you, I shape individual pizza balls, and store them in disposable tupperware containers. The recipe I use has a very small amount of yeast, which helps prevent overproofing, even if the baking goes on for hours. What I like most is the chance to keep experimenting on my friends, tweaking the dough, changing the sauce recipe. Writing about this, I think I'd better go get some more wood from the macadamia nut farm, it's time to fire up the oven!


rustle

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I make the dough and sauce, some pizza's and the whole family and friends chip in..yes, what a blast!  Isn't it great the oven is self cleaning :-)


Away from home, large pizza parties are reserved for my daughter's wfo...she's great at getting the fire going, prep work and pizza making, totally organized...she calls it an OCD disorder 'lol' organization...runs in the family!


Sylvia

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

$400.  I was leaning that way too, tired of the dough creeping up the KA hook and above its attachment.  But, I as well, make only enough bread dough for 2.


Thanks for the recap !


anna (German, too)


 


 

pjkobulnicky's picture
pjkobulnicky

I too am a Bosch owner and I too know that small amounts are a pain in it. BUT, I have, as a test,  used the wisk attachment to successfully whip a single egg white so it can indeed get down there. The real question is why would you even use a stand mixer for a small amount of high hydration dough? You can, instead, just whip it up by hand, use a food processor with the plastic blade, or just let it ferment longer with folds.


The absolutely best mixer for small wet batches is the KA Artisan and it sucks for everything else. So, no one device fits all needs.


Be a true artisan baker ... use your hands :-)


 


Paul

rustleinthehedgerow's picture
rustleinthehedgerow

So when the Rustic Ciabatta recipe says "mix on high speed and it will come together in about 10 minutes", you want me to do that by hand?


You're a better man than I, Paul.  Can I buy your workout video?


rustle

pjkobulnicky's picture
pjkobulnicky

My wife always tells me about her grandmother who whipped candies by hand. But those were the days when no one had to buy a membership to a fitness club.


But for one loaf of rustic ciabatta ... I'd actually pick up the bowl and a wisk and give it a go.  But what I am more likely to do is make a bigger batch in the Bosch and either freeze them (they do freeze really well and then reheat well using the damp paper bag technique) or give some away while they are warm or maybe use some to shim furniture in my old crooked house.


My son just made some 100% hydration ciabatta doing nothing but folds. So, that's a real possibility too.

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

except for those of us plagued by terrible arthritis, I had a wrist joint partially reconstructed a year ago, now the pain is starting again, so mixers the only way to go, albeit as you suggested, I only use to mix initially and then do the folding technique for most recipes.

Anna

rustleinthehedgerow's picture
rustleinthehedgerow

Thank you Bradster, for the information, and thank you Bosch!  I've just ordered the "small batch kneading attachment". Life is good and keeps getting better.

Cheers!

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

i had read some of the posts about the Universal and high hydration, so I ordered a Bosch Compact instead.  It is a nice machine, though I am not in love with the amount the bowl moves while in use - it sorts of rocks too and fro, and I was used to the KA where the bowl is locked down pretty tight.  I just picked up a Bosch Universal UM3 , wihch is the old model, a few days ago.  It does not seem to be able to do well with high hydration doughs.  I make the Jason's Ciabatta with 250 grams of water and 250 grams of Whole Wheat, and the Universal didn't do anything to it.  On the other hand, I just mixed some pizza dough which called for 200 grams of whole wheat flour and 135 grams of flour, and it seemed to mix that just fine.  So on mine, it isn't the size of the dough, it is the hydration.  Right now I am keeping both, and my food processor because it does a great job on the ciabatta recipe - in only minutes.

rustleinthehedgerow's picture
rustleinthehedgerow

Maybe it's me. I ordered the Bosch small batch attachment from Breadopia, installed and tried it this morning. In fairness, I don't see anything that states this is an actual made-by-Bosch product.

The plastic attachment slips nicely over the center post, but doesn't rotate as I imagined it would, simply adding "fins" to the center post. The standard mixer arms are then installed over the top. The worst news is that the factory beater arms strike the attachment lightly with each rotation!
What the heck? This can't be what the manufacturer had in mind.
I saw no effect for mixing the batch of dough, and the slight collision with the beater arms seems like an engineering mistake to me.

If anyone has a different experience with this attachment, I'd like to hear about it.

jdantz's picture
jdantz

They have it noted on that product page:

Note: The Dough Creep Gizmo should be purchased to accompany this Small Batch Kneading attachment. The Gizmo will create needed spacing between the Small Batch Attachment and the metal dough hook that comes with the Universal Plus mixer.

It helps beat down dough creep, but it's actually a cleverly disguised spacing washer.  I suggest buying multiples.  My first one is torn already.

That being said, the kneading attachment does help with small/intermediate batch projects. It keeps the dough from riding around in a circle and generating heat instead of developing.

Rena's picture
Rena

I just went online to order both items.  Will comment after I use it, hopefully in a week ortwo.

Rena's picture
Rena

rustleinthehederow,

                                     I dearly wish I had found this forum and your comments.  Like you, I feel I have wasted my money on a very expensive mixer which is of little use to me now because, although I wanted to make bread with it and the site therefore recommended the bigger model, the machine does not work very well AT ALL with normal quantities.

I am now going to research what I can do to remedy this problem online.  Any hints are appreciated!

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Rena,

See if you can return it.  Bosch does stand behind their products so hopefully you can get your $ back.

I have a Bosch too and ran into the same problems with small batches of dough.  The gadget sold to remedy the problem made no difference.

After a year of using the Bosch I looked around for another mixer and found the DLX.  I bought it and have totally pleased with it.  It handles any size of dough I put into it and has no problem dealing with any type of dough.  It is also a much more sturdy machine and a ss bowl is standard - no paying extra!  I love the fact that it has variable speeds and a timer.

I also have a Bosch compact that I purchased before the DLX and I really like it too. It handles smaller amounts of dough really well and the kneading action is nice and gentle.  It is great for mixing up cookie doughs - easy to clean.

Janet 

Rena's picture
Rena

Thank you so much, Janet, for your letter.  I have sent emails to the local vendor telling her that I ordered these extra gizmos and I would try them before making further comments.  If, as you say, they don't work either, I will definitely try to get my money back.  I live in Canada and many things are a whole lot more expensive here, so I paid pretty big bucks for this machine, only to be totally dissatisfied with it, actually very very upset.  I used to own a Braun mixer which I really liked (I don't see them around anymore) but after 10 years the motor burned out and I never replaced it. 

The new gadgets should arrive in a week or two and I will post the results.

I so much appreciated your very helpful comments!

 

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Rena,

I hate it when things don't work out that have a high price tag.  That is one of the frustrating things with these mixers that aren's sold in 'regular' stores where you really can compare quality etc. before making a purchase and where it is a whole lot easier to make a return.  

Good luck with the gadgets that are on their way.  I hope they do help you get the results you want....If not - the Bosch compact is a good little machine for smaller amounts of dough and maybe that would make the return easier if they are totally against refunding your money....an exchange of sorts but with a $$$ refund also since the compact is a lot less expensive than the Universal.

Janet

Vaughn's picture
Vaughn

I just took our Bosch Universal Mixer in for its THIRD SWITCH REPAIR. The person at the front desk agreed to have the repairman replace the switch (at my cost, of course), but was unsympathetic to my complaint about so many switch failures. It turns out the switch is extraordinarily poorly designed and is made of soft plastic internally. A few too many turns and the plastic breaks off inside. What happened to that impeccable German engineering I thought I was paying so much money for?

Our old model was built like a tank. Looked like one, sounded like one, but it withstood thirty years of very heavy use until the transmission finally gave out. We "upgraded" to the sleeker Universal and have been frustrated with repeated switch failures. Bosch apparently has sold out to the "cheaper is better" outlook.

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

This is the first I've heard of this problem - has anyone else experienced it?  I'm not seeing it on Amazon - except for yours.

I'm just wondering if anyone else has had this problem.  No one I know has, but maybe it's a new thing?  When did you buy your mixer?

pmiker's picture
pmiker

I bought a used Bosch Universal via Craigslist.  I typically make about 2200g of dough and the Bosch does just fine.  I cannot do this on my KA Pro 600.  Small batches, I don't know.  I'd do those by hand.  The only downside I've noticed so far is cleanup.  The KA is a lot easier to clean.  Dough creeps into everything.  I'll look into getting some of those gizmo's.

 

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

Pmiker, you could always implement this guy's solution to the dough creep thing:

Tim Taylor Dough Creep Solution

 

 

 

pal251's picture
pal251

Brand new to the forum.  Hello!

 

Who makes the "DLX" mixer that people talk about.  Also where to find one and where to find a bosch compact or universal online?

 

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

Ankarsrum - it has been imported and renamed many many times over the past decades.  Every time the importer changed, they changed the name.  The current importer is not doing that any more, hence they are now being sold as Ankarsrum - which is who has ALWAYS made them.

Ankarsrum at Pleasant Hill Grain - note the mixers they still have from the previous importer are on sale for $100 off until the end of the month.

Bosch Universal Plus at Pleasant Hill

Bosch Compact at Pleasant HIll

I have a compact.  At $200 (it was on sale a few months ago for $150) it is THE best cheap mixer for bread and most general purposes available on the market.

The Universal has been the best mid-priced mixer for bread, with the Ankarsrum being the best hands down, which shows in the price (normally around $700).

It just depends on how much bread you bake and how often.