The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Good Cheap Mixer

  • Pin It
chris319's picture
chris319

Good Cheap Mixer

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

Ooookay - but post back in a year or two and let us know how well it held up over time, being used regularly to make bread dough.

What kind of bread dough are you using it for, anyway?

chris319's picture
chris319

I'll mark my 2015 calendar.

It will be used for sourdough at 80% hydration with all-purpose flour.

As I said in the review, a KA K5A sits next to it on the counter. If the Sunbeam quits I'm out $40. If a high-end mixer quits I'm out a couple of hundred.

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

I'm curious to see how it performs for you. I have one of those, too, but in every case it makes a mess. The spiral hooks turn in opposite directions: what one does is quickly undone by the other,  not the slightest sign of a decent gluten development: it gets torn all the time.

Is it my fault? I'd like to learn  to use it for making bread, but so far I had a 100% failure rate.

 

chris319's picture
chris319

Try turning one of the hooks 180 degrees in its receptacle, i.e. remove it and put it back in 180 degrees from the way it was when you removed it. Does that make sense? Mine kneads dough just fine, but the ingredients are already combined when I use it.

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

At 80% hydration, you're more mixing than kneading.  Outside of such a high hydration dough, I don't see any way for a mixer of that type to do any effective kneading.

Not to say it doesn't suit your purposes with a high hydration dough; but I don't see how that could ever be a good bread mixer for other types of dough.  It might be a good cheap mixer for general purpose use though, sort of like the old Sunbeam Mixmasters.  Boy would I like to see THOSE come back!

Let us know how it holds up.  A sturdy mixer is always a good thing.

chris319's picture
chris319

The ingredients are already mixed. it is kneading. As I said in the review, which I'm sure you've read, the dough was passing the "window pane" test which tells me the gluten is sufficiently developed. As for cream cheese or peanut butter cookie dough, I'm not planning to make those so someone else will have to try them.

Here is a video of the mixer in action. It's been speeded up 4x and it looks like he underkneaded it when he takes it out, but the mixer handles the dough as does mine and you don't hear the motor laboring which would be the first sign that it can't handle the load.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DiWxgh01Sfw

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

All I'm saying is that a high hydration dough like that is almost batterlike.  I'm not saying that you can't get gluten development, but the action IS more "mixing" than "kneading".

Try it with a 52% hydration bagel dough and see how far you get, LOL! 

I'm not questioning whether or not the mixer is at present suiting your purposes for this application, but that doesn't mean this mixer is a good replacement for a $200 Bosch Compact for general purpose bread baking.  It may be a very good mixer indeed, for high hydration doughs, cookies, cakes, and other batters; maybe even for whipping meringues etc. 

I would be happy to have you prove me wrong.  Try a pizza dough or a regular (eg not no-knead, not high-hydration) sandwich loaf with it.

Even for your current use, durability is an issue.  I'm not taunting you when I ask you to keep us posted as to its longevity - I'm curious to see how well it holds up over time.  I'm also curious as to how well it performs other tasks than just the high-hydration dough you are currently using it for.  I might want one myself, if it holds up - but it won't replace my Bosch for making bread and pizza dough - it just can't, and that's not a criticism of the mixer because it wasn't manufactured with the intent of filling that niche.  The fact that it can handle the 80% hydration dough you are using it for says a lot about it's versatility, but that doesn't make it an all-purpose mixer - just a NEARLY all purpose mixer.  Which is pretty good for $40!

shoshanna673's picture
shoshanna673

Hi Kitchen barbarian.  I'm with you..I have an old sunbeam Mixmaster. circa 1970 which is still goimg strong.  I would never part with it.  Don't of course use it for bread - have a KA and Kenwood for that (neither of which are much chop I might add).  Am going to get my old Sunbeam totally renovated by a chap locally who will either service and replace parts, or totally renovate, paint and all.  Nowadays things are not built to last!  Would love a DLX but they are not avIlable In Australia.

Sondra

chris319's picture
chris319

I know the difference between mixing and kneading and I know the difference between batter and dough. Batter-like it definitely is not. I couldn't even begin to do the window-pane test if it were batter-like.

Here is the exact recipe: 3/4 cup (level) bread flour; 1/3 cup water. By my calculation this is about 80% hydration. Tell you what -- you have the recipe, you do the calculations and tell me if you get a different hydration percentage. Here is the calculator I use. If their numbers are wrong they should be alerted to it.

http://www.traditionaloven.com/conversions_of_measures/flour_volume_weight.html

Water conversion:

http://calculator-converter.com/converter_c_to_g_cups_to_grams_calculator.php

chykcha's picture
chykcha

I have a Kitchenaid 1HP mixer, which I bought at Costco approximately 2 years ago. It handles even very stiff doughs just fine, with a minor exception of the steel bowl moving ever so slightly. And this happened after 2 years of regular baking. I would recommend one of those. I think I paid around $230 for it. There's a post here I made when I bought it.

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Amazing to find a video of the mixer you bought. I keep hearing that you can find ANYTHING on YouTube and that may be true.

Bagel dough is the exception rather than the rule. People that have made bagel dough once know how tough it is and wouldn't expect anything but a strong machine to handle that dough. Most bread doughs are not that tough.

Are you the reviewer that has a Hobart Era KA that overheats? Want to sell it?

chris319's picture
chris319

I have a Hobart-era K5A which doesn't overheat in the sense that it stops working, but it gets warm to the point that I turn it off and let it cool to be on the safe side. It's not for sale, sorry. It weighs a ton and would be a major undertaking to pack and ship. I suggest ebay if you want to find a vintage KA. I saw other K5A's for around $200 when I bought this one. There is a guy who posts here as KATech or KA_Tech who swears that the current KA "CLASSIC" line mixers are built the same as the old Hobart ones. The only classic mixer model now is the K45SS -- that's my understanding.

I haven't tried bagel dough or cookie dough or cream cheese with the Sunbeam. For sourdough it seems to suit my purpose so far.

Here is a tip when looking for old KA mixers on ebay: enter "vintage kitchenaid" as your search terms.

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

If you're buying a new mixer, as the former owner of a Hobart era Kitchenaid K5A, I suggest spending the money on a Bosch Compact instead.  The K5A can't do anything the Bosch Compact can't do - only the Bosch does it better, plus manages tasks my K5A was miserable at.  My Compact will handle kneading tasks the KA couldn't touch, such as kneading for 15 mins without getting more than barely warm.  And, the Compact is smaller and weighs a LOT less than any KA.

If you bake a LOT of bread, a Bosch UP is worth the upgrade.

chris319's picture
chris319

<< kneading for 15 mins without getting more than barely warm >>

Interesting. If I'd known that at the time I just might have gotten a Bosch Compact instead.

I can see heat being a definite drawback with the KA. Knead for a few minutes, turn it off, let it cool down, knead some more, etc.  Some manual effort has been saved but the whole process has been bogged down due to heat, and this is with a smallish quantity of dough that isn't that stiff.

Does the Bosch Compact have an internal cooling fan for the motor? The K5A certainly doesn't.

clazar123's picture
clazar123

I have a Bosch Compact (Good Will-$20-what a find!) and while I have only made gluten free dough (consistency of cookie dough so no challenge there) with it and I like it-the bowl is small capacity- 4-5 c flour max-I think 6-7 would really be a stretch.

My Hobart era KA is a 6 qt SS bowl and while it does get warm, it is really a workhorse. I have used it probably 3-4 times per week for various jobs for the last 35 years and never had a problem. It was re-greased twice and I think a long time ago I may have had a worn gear replaced. Hmm...can't quite remember if it was that machine.. They are easy to find parts for and do maintenance on so don't give it up too easily. There are all kinds of YouTube videos on how to fix them. It could be your machine has too much friction and needs to be re-greased. The grease was a bit costly and you don't need much but you get a lifetime supply in the smallest container. It has to be a special food grade machine grease-that is why it is expensive. I'd recommend to give it a shot at  opening it up or having someone do that for you.

Meantime, enjoy the Sunbeam. If it doesn't do the bigger loaves, use it for the everyday stuff. Sounds like it could be handy and if it gets to windowpane-perfect!

I should clarify-my KA can get quite warm but that is after 15-20 minute knead on something like a WW or ciabotta. I like to get everything to windowpane.

 

plevee's picture
plevee

But the Bosch Compact kneads 6 pounds of dough, of any hydration, well and without over-heating or jumping around on the counter. The only problem I've encountered with large amounts is that the dough bounces against the lid. But it kneads perfectly well without the lid.

Three loaves is usually plenty for a home baker and it kneads small quantities without problems.  Patsy

chris319's picture
chris319

The KA isn't going anywhere. It's so heavy; it would be a chore to transport. I've seen videos on how to lube it and may at some point. I would like to let it run with no load whatsoever and see how long it takes to get uncomfortably warm with no load.

I let the KA run for 15 minutes at speed 1 with no load, just a spinning dough hook, and it got moderately warm, not warm enough to warrant turning it off. Under load or at a higher speed I suspect it would get warmer.

chris319's picture
chris319

What I like about the Sunbeam for kneading is that it has dual dough hooks so the dough is kneaded between the two hooks. The KA kneads the dough with the hook and depends on the dough sticking to the bowl to get the kneading done.

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

My KA mixer (Hobart era) did not need to be lubed, but still got hot.  I used to beat the he** (for like 20 or 30 mins) out of this cooked buttercream frosting I make and it would get hot doing that (normal layer cake quantity).  It DID last what, 35, 40 years?  Which I doubt any other mixer made at the time would have done that (home-use mixer I mean), and there's no question there was no other mixer on the market (that I knew of, in those pre-internet-research days) that would have handled bread dough AT ALL.  But it did have its faults compared to some newer mixers such as the Bosch or the Ankarsrum.

It would get hot; it handled small amounts very poorly; it was awkward to add ingredients without stopping the machine and dropping the bowl, and a little awkward then as well; they never did make a half-way decent splatter screen for it; even when properly adjusted, the beater did a poor job of cleaning the side of the bowl (no wonder because it was metal-on-metal) which was a bigger problem with things like frosting but generally corrected itself eventually with cookie or bread dough; it weighed a ton; and it did have that frightening tendency to walk at unexpected times.

The Bosch Compact never walks; it weighs a fraction of what the KA weighed so I use it a LOT more often (I am FINALLY starting to knead dough in it as opposed to letting my Zo handle all the kneading); it handles small amounts a LOT better than the KA ever did; it will comfortably knead more dough than I'll ever need in one go; and it takes up a lot less space.

The BCompact's weak points include the fact that it comes only with a plastic bowl and the metal one is mondo 'spensivo if you buy it stateside - costs about half as much if you buy from Amazon Germany, but then there may be exchange rates, VAT or other import taxes, and possibly increased shipping costs - the person I got the link from didn't mention these specifically.  It also has a tendency for the head to jump up and down a little bit as it kneads a heavy dough - not jumping actually but more of a sine-wave kind of motion - but this doesn't seem to affect the results, it just looks funny.

I haven't used the Bosch Universal Pro but up to now it's reputation has been good, except that it apparently doesn't do small amounts at all well without cheap to expensive add-on attachments - most people seem satisfied with the cheap solution but some haven't been.  But that's for bread - I don't know about small amounts of say whipped cream, meringue, or cake or other batters.

Anyway, for the price and if you want to make up to 3 loaves at a time but still be able to use the mixer for general purpose tasks, the Bosch Compact is a much better solution than the new KAs.

However if you already have a mixer for dough with which you are satisfied but want a smaller mixer for more general purpose tasks and maybe doing some of the things some of the big mixers sometimes don't do as well with - such as some of the high hydration doughs - then maybe this Sunbeam is what you are looking for.

And no, there is no internal fan in the Bosch, just a better, more efficient design and a better motor.  The more overbuilt the motor, the cooler it will run (less resistance in the motor to turn into heat), as well as generating less heat under load.  I still knead dough at the lowest speed because it generates less heat IN THE DOUGH - the motor will handle kneading at higher speeds but it creates more heat in the dough which has undesired effects.  So slow and steady as she goes and I get great results.

chris319's picture
chris319

The Bosch Compact has a 400-watt motor to the K5A's 300. Maybe that's why the Bosch runs cooler?

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

Probably that has something to do with it - but it's also the design of the motor and how it is driven.  Heavier duty wire even in the same size motor means less electrical resistance, hence less heat generated and less power lost in the motor itself.

KitchenAid's commercial model has a nominal 1.5W motor but it only DELIVERS .44W - so the max Wattage that the motor is rated for doesn't necessarily relate very strongly to the amount of power actually available.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Hi Chris.  The advertised wattage of a mixer refers only to input wattage:  the number of watts coming into the mixer from your outlet.  It does not reflect the output wattage or how much power the mixer generates. 

There is no fan in the Bosch Compact (I have one).  It is just a better engineered and designed mixer.  I can attest that mine never heats up, even when mixing at 55% hydration.  Two of the features I really admire are the small footprint and its lightness.  I can pick it up with one hand.  Something I could never do with my KA Artisan.

If your own mixer is getting too warm for your comfort, put an icepack on the mixer motor.  That's what I used to do when mixing bagel dough before I switched to the Bosch Compact.  

 

chris319's picture
chris319

I measured the DC resistance of the KA motor at the speed 1 setting and it was about 15.4 ohms. As P = E^2 / R, this thing is drawing 935 watts out of the wall at 120 volts which seems pretty high for a mixer rated at 300W. This gives me pause. It's an old mixer and I think it's showing its age. No telling how the previous owner used it. The heat from the KA can only serve to shorten the life of the motor. That the KA gets so warm at speed 1 with NO load whatsoever, just a spinning dough hook, gives me even more pause. OTOH, the little Sunbeam has a DC resistance of 63 ohms at speed 1, or 229 watts at 120 volts for a (brand new) mixer rated at 250 watts which didn't even get warm after kneading my test dough. The voltage in my house as measured with a true RMS volt meter is 117 volts.

Now y'all have got me curious about the Bosch Compact. Based on on-line reviews, I have to wonder if it gets all of the dough or leaves some of it un-kneaded. One reviewer put a drop of red food coloring in his dough and the BC had a hard time dispersing it. I can take the little Sunbeam off the stand and guide it by hand where it needs to go to get all of the dough.

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

You can't deduce the impedance of a motor by measuring the DC resistance of the primary winding. DC resistance is only the real component of impedance and is indicative of the efficiency of the motor. The lower the resistance, the greater the efficiency. (This is not a technical discussion so take the descriptions with a grain of salt.) The other component is the inductive reactance, or reluctance. This is the imaginary component and is added to the resistance as a vector at a right angle to resistance. When free-wheeling, the impedance is larger than either, and you pay for it at the meter, but no work is done. As a load is applied, the reactance is countered by the secondary and more current is drawn. The additional current load is resistive and is work. Ideally, the reflected load will equal the primary reluctance, and the power factor will be 1.

It's been too long since I worked with reactances, so before I lead you further astray, I will shut up. :-p

cheers,

gary

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

I'm not going to put food coloring in my dough, but if I'm getting full windowpane no matter where I test - and I am - then it's clearly kneaded the dough thoroughly.

And again, there is a huge difference between an 80% hydration dough and a more normal 62% to 65%.  No matter how you push it around with the mixer in your hand you will not get a good knead on a normally hydrated dough - no matter how doughty, that little mixer isn't properly equipped for the task.

I don't have my Hobart era KA anymore so I can't check the label, but it sounds to me like you are drawing way way more current than that mixer is rated for.  The only K5A I have seen was 300W and drew 3 Amps - according to your report, your mixer is drawing nearly 8 amps!  That is unsafe, I wouldn't even plug it in again if that's correct.

chris319's picture
chris319

you will not get a good knead on a normally hydrated dough - no matter how doughty, that little mixer isn't properly equipped for the task.

You don't know that. You haven't tried it so your statement is completely unfounded.

Give me a recipe for a test dough, in cups please, and I will try kneading it with the Sunbeam and we'll put your assertion to the test.

I watched some videos of the Bosch Compact on YouTube. For now I will be keeping my money in my pocket. If you're happy with yours, that's great!

chris319's picture
chris319

I can tell you this: the Sunbeam with its 250-watt motor can knead dough and not even get warm to the touch. The KA, with its 300-watt motor, just 50 watts more, gets "better-turn-it-off" hot with NO LOAD. Now look at the DC resistances I posted for both mixers and tell me there isn't a correlation.

The ohm's-law equation for power, P = E^2 / R, is based on simple resistance. Complex impedance does not enter into the equation or else it would be P = E^2 / Z.

chris319's picture
chris319

I put an ammeter on the K5A with no load, no dough and no attachments.It is drawing about 0.5 amps or about 58.5 watts at 117 volts, well under the listed 300 watts but again, there is no load on it.

chris319's picture
chris319

That looks like it's more than $40 :)

I'll bet amazon.com doesn't carry it.