The Fresh Loaf

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stand mixer and wheat grinders which one????

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mon and al's picture
mon and al

stand mixer and wheat grinders which one????

Hi

Our family is pizza dough and bread baking mad and are now at the stage where we need to invest in a stand mixer that is able to cope with bread dough as well as usual baking needs. We are in the UK so can anyone suggest the top three mixers available please that would be fantastic?

We are currently grinding our own wheat using a borrowed wheat grinder so can anyone suggest a good one of those also please?

We are looking to invest and not buy a new one again next year! It seems to happen a lot now with electrical appliances thanks in advance.

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

For pizza dough and bread, a Bosch Compact would be ideal - unless you have a large family.  The Compact will handle high hydration and small amounts of dough, which will be needed if you are making whole wheat pizza dough ( My favorite recipe is 82% hydration)  If you have a big family and need to make much larger amounts, consider the Bosch Universal Plus, or the Ankarsrum  previously called the Assistent.  

For grinding wheat,  I prefer and electric machine with stones.  New ones are very expensive, but you can usually find a used model on ebay for around $200, though I don't know how much shipping would be to the UK.    At the bottom of this page in a green box, there is a pretty good description of the different types of mills http://www.pleasanthillgrain.com/index.aspx#Nutrimill

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

Sure.  Bosch Compact, Bosch Universal Pro, or Ankarsrum.  It all depends on your expected usage and budget.

The compact and the Ankarsrum are available on Amazon UK and all of these are available on Amazon Germany - but the Bosch are cheaper on Amazon Germany, and the Ankarsrum seems to be cheaper on AM UK. 

Bosch Compact = 79 Pound sterling on AmUK (93 EU) or 60 EU on AM Germany    (translated page)

Bosch UP = 185 EU on AM Germany     (translated page)

Ankarsrum = 575 pounds on AM UK

Bosch Compact

PROS

  1. low cost
  2. small, lightweight
  3. handles small volumes
  4. good general purpose mixer
  5. up to 6 lbs of dough at a time (that's about 3 loaves)

CONS

  1. Mixer arm tends to bump up and down a little while kneading dough
  2. comes with a plastic bowl; metal one costs additional 44EU from AM Germany

BOSCH UNIVERSAL PRO (basically the larger Bosch, which in the EU/UK has a different model #)

PROS

  1. Moderate cost
  2. powerful 800W motor
  3. Belt driven motor - no gears to strip, high torque
  4. Larger 15 lb dough capacity

CONS

  1. Is said to handle small quantities poorly
  2. Requires cookie paddles for mixing cookie dough - these come with the machine in the US, don't know about UK/EU
  3. comes with plastic bowl; metal bowl available at additional cost, not sure how much that might be in EU/UK

Ankarsrum (made in Sweden)

PROS

  1. Comes with one metal and one plastic bowl
  2. large capacity 15 lbs of dough
  3. is said to handle small amounts of dough (on the order of 1.5 to 2 lbs) of dough pretty well
  4. sturdiest of the three choices (though the Bosch are no slouches in this division)

CONS

  1. Most expensive of the three
  2. Nontypical "dough roller" means there's a learning curve
  3. When to use the roller and when to use the dough hook may not be obvious
  4. Usage documentation from manufacturer is poor
  5. Unknown (to me) how well it handles non-dough tasks
  6. Some people say it DOESN'T handle small amounts very well (despite some people saying it DOES)
  7. The set up for non-dough tasks is not intuitive - the whisks and what-not seem to only fit the plastic bowl - this could be less than optimal for whipping up a meringue (maybe)

In general, the owners of all 3 are happy with their model, as long as it meets their needs for capacity.

I don't know about VAT or extra taxes in the EU but its my understanding the "free shipping" option on Amazon works anywhere in the EU; I imagine all of these are available through other sources in the UK which I don't know about being as I'm in the USA.

BBQinMaineiac's picture
BBQinMaineiac

Just get the Ankarsrum and be done with it. It does everything. Buy it once have it for decades- seriously. I did my research with folks in Sweden whose family had Ankarsrum for at least 40 years and that machine is still going strong. The entire family now has them. No problems whatsoever. It's an impressive machine.

Yes, there's a learning curve, but it's not difficult.

It'll also be the end of flour spewing out of the mixer. That always ticked me off. Too, it's easy to add ingredients when the mixer is running since it's wide open and nothing is in the way.

I make our bread and make and knead pizza dough and the Ankarsrum is the best I've ever used. If the dough could handle it you could knead the bread for hours and the machine would barely get warm. Of course the gluten would break down long before.

I never make less than 2 loaves of bread (one for the freezer) or 12 hamburger /sandwich buns and the Ankarsrum handles that light load fine.

The plastic bowl w/whisks and such work fine as well. They aren't for heavy dough though, only for egg whites, cake batter, and cookie dough (choose the right whisk- it's not difficult).

Same too the roller or hook. If it's not an Ankarsrum recipe it's probably a KA recipe and use the hook the first time unless you know how to convert it. (use less flour and gauge it) Once it's converted use the roller. The Ankarsrum develops the gluten much better and requires less flour. It won't ake long until you know what to look for to convert a KA bread recipe for the Ankarsrum. Trust me, you can do it, it's not rocket science. But if you don't want to, just use the hook.

If you want to grind your own meat or make sausage you can also get a really nice grinder. It also has a nice grain mill. Just so many things can be fitted to the Ankarsrum and I have yet to be disappointed. (maybe with the blender, but it's simpy not a Vita-Mix and never will be)

Edit: Whoops! Forgot the grain mill. I've been using it for 2 months now and it works fine. It uses steel burrs and by passing the grain throuh multiple times I can get the whole grain flour just as fine as I want it, including the bran. I have a motorized Diamant grain mill, but for everyday grinding I just put the Ankarsrum grain  mill on the Assistent and in no time I have what I want. Many times I grind enough for 4-5 loaves. I never had one, but from a friend I understand her stone grinder can't regrind the flour. The Ankarsrum Mill has no such limitation. If I wanted to make cake flour I have no doubt that it could. It's an impressive machine.

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

BBQ,   just picked up an Assistent, and am not sure I follow why the amount of flour would vary.  If I mix a 82% pizza dough in the Bosch Compact, or the Assistent, it will still be 82% hydration - why would you change the hydration because you are using a different mixer?    I am even more confused when you say that you use a different hydration if you use the hook instead of the roller and scraper.  I don't follow the breadbeckers method in making bread or pizza, that is I know what hydration I am shooting for ( I mill my own wheat berries in bulk, and store it in the freezer, so I assume the moisture level is more consistent than flour stored at room temperature where the moisture levels vary with the weather)  and I just add the water and flour and knead until done.    

Theresse's picture
Theresse

I've been reading about it and it seems the Bosch is better with low-hydration doughs (sandwich bread, pizzas, rolls and bagels) and the Assistent is better with high-hydration doughs (open-crumb, crusty artisan breads).  It also seems both can have tweaks done to make them each the opposite re. hydration - to some extent.  E.g. with the Bosch, if you want to have a higher-hydration dough you would use the metal bowl (not sure if it matters which of the two optional stainless bowls matters but some reading has lead me to believe the one with the dough hook that comes up from the bottom - the older model - is better for higher-hydration doughs as well as lesser amounts...not sure if that's accurate though).  If you want a lower-hydration dough in the Assistent you would knead it a little by hand.  In the end though, and I could be wrong about this, it seems the case may be that doughs that are tougher to hand-make/knead (denser, lower-hydration doughs) would be better in the Bosch because the Bosch will save your muscles or tennis elbow whereas the Assistent is so gentle on the dough (better for higher-hydration) - if I'm understanding correctly - that you could just as easily make it by hand without hurting your muscles or tennis elbow, if that makes sense.

Furthermore if you have a family that's medium to large in size, the issues re. the Bosch not being as good with lower amounts wouldn't be so much an issue (plus you could get the metal bowl with hook on the bottom which does better with lower amounts, or the shredder-slicer accessory which comes with a smaller bowl and dough hook and whisks for smaller amounts).

Like Kitchen Barbarian was saying, I've read both comments about the Assistent - that it doesn't do well with small amounts and that it does.

I'm stuck between these two machines too (love the look of the Assistent or whatever it's most recent name is) but the way things stand most often in my home is that I'm often making double and triple batches of anything I make, whether it's cause we're a family of 5 or because I like to freeze or give as gifts... and really dense chewy whole grain sandwich breads are our staple (plus we like a lot of pizza) so I'm going to want to be making lower-hydration breads more of the time.  So I may be "forced" to get the Bosch just cause it may be more useful for our particular purposes more of the time.  I think I'll eventually love to get into artisan or hearth breads but it may not be as often or I might just want to do them by hand since they're so delicate.

I wish I could convince myself to get the Assistent though. :(  I LOVE the way it looks (and love love love all the colors!) and I'm entranced by the way it works.  I just think it may not be as practical for us, if I'm to be realistic about it.

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Theresse,  I had read that the Assistent was not good with small quantities, but saw a few videos on You tube which seemed to show it working well, and this weekend I made up some very small batches of flour to see what it could handle -  it had no problem with 300 gram of  wheat flour   ( about 2 cups) in a baguette recipe, then tried 100 grams as a soaker for a pizza recipe, and it worked fine. It handles it in a different way than a normal mixer, that may be why there is some confusion.  I also made two different batches of bagels, which are low hydration, no problems.  Since I only use a machine for dough, I think the Assistent is the best of the machines I have owned (  KA K5M5,  Bosch Universal, Concept - with the European hook and the American hook, Compact)  but if you often used a machine for whipping eggs, you might not be as happy since that would involve using a different bowl and beaters, and I don't make cakes or cookies, so I can't say whether it would be better or worse than the other machines.

Theresse's picture
Theresse

That was very helpful to read, thanks barryvabeact.  I made a triple batch of cookies tonight using a borrowed older-style Assistent.  I'll start a thread about it inquiring about what the differences might be between that style and the newer style.

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

Actually I have heard the opposite about the Ankarsrum - eg that it is the mixer you want for more normal levels of hydration.  Most people I know who have one do not make high-hydration doughs, or at least rarely do so.  There is a learning curve associated with the Ankarsrum.

But let's address the issue of the perception that dough that is handled "roughly" (the implied opposite of the Ankarsrum's "gentle" handling of dough) is more likely to be fully and/or properly developed: this is very much NOT the case.  It is the stretching and folding motion that develops the gluten, not roughly pulling it around and slamming.  In fact, rough handling of a dough may tear developing gluten strands and cause irreversible damage to the ultimate structure of the dough.  I'm not implying that being, shall we say, DEFINITE in your kneading will damage the dough; but neither will the apparently "gentler" way the Ankarsrum kneads the dough (I assume you're talking about proper use of the roller for this) fail to develop the dough.  If anything, it enhances dough development through a variety of avenues, including the fact that the dough doesn't heat up as much or as fast as in some other types of mixers.

Most people who have used both the Bosch UP and the Ankarsrum seem to agree that the Ankarsrum has the edge for certain kinds of "picky" doughs, such as baguettes, but particularly for pizza dough (a lean dough similar to baguette doughs and their ilk).  Again, there is at work both personal opinion and the fact that the two mixers operate on the dough somewhat differently; so comparisons between the two, even by people who have owned both, are sometimes comparing apples to oranges, and may be more indicative of which mixer they have learned to use optimally than whether or not one is objectively better than the other.

I don't think there is any clear-cut difference between the two based on the hydration of your dough; but then most reports I hear come from people who don't do much in the way of high-hydration doughs, and most feel the Ankarsrum has an edge over the UP, at least for their (non-high-hydration) purposes.  Not a HUGE edge, perhaps, but somewhat of an edge.

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

I don't make a wide variety of dough styles, and didn't use my mixers for other general mixing like cookie dough, but in my experience, the Bosch Universal excels in normal hydration levels, with typical amounts of dough, but the Assistent excels in high hydration dough. I regularly make a 92% hydration all whole wheat ciabatta.  I have tried making it in the Bosch Universal - not the plus, though I think the dough hook and bowl is similar, the Concept - using the American Dough Hook and the European Hooks, the Compact, and a food processor. ( I also tried it a few times in a KA but it was so long ago I can't recall how it worked out ).    With the Bosch Universal and Concept with American Hook, the dough wrapped around the center column and the hooks bare nudged it.  I haven't tried it with the stainless steel bowl with the hook on the bottom, but think that would probably work much better.  The Concept with the European hook  could knead the dough, but it would work its way up the column and get inside of the hook assembly and make a mess to clean up.  The Compact can knead it, but would shake quite a bit, and definitely warmed the dough up noticeably.  The Assistent handles it with no problem, did another batch this morning.   I have also used it for baguette dough and pizza dough in the 80% hydration range, and it is fine.  I think the Bosch Universal does a great job for normal ranges of hydration, and the Assistent, while expensive, does a much better job at high hydration, very low hydration,  and very small batches.    

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

It may be true that the Ankarsrum does a much better job than the Bosch when making high hydration doughs - I have seen it said before that the UP doesn't handle those as well - but this is the first time I've ever heard anyone opine that an Ankarsrum can't handle normal hydration jobs better than, or at least as well as, a Bosch.

I think its down to a user-specific usability issue.  That hasn't been the experience of any of the dozen or so people I know who have an Ankarsrum.  They are working dough mostly in the "normal hydration" range and occassionally at the low end of it, and for them, the way they use it and the doughs they are making, they feel the Ankarsrum does the best job on the exact same doughs you feel it doesn't do so well.  That is compared to any mixer they've owned in the past.  I don't think either mixer would be a mistake, whatever kind of dough you make most often.  As long as the user is willing to ride the learning curve until they've got it broke!

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Sorry,  I guess I wasn't clear.   The Ankarsrum does a great job with normal hydration as well.  What I was trying to say, but didn't do a good job explaining, that at least as far as the doughs I have made ( mostly 100 percent whole wheat ) the difference between the mixers is that the Ankarsrum has done well at low, medium, and high hydration, and low and medium sized loaves, it probably does well at big batches, I just normally don't make big batches. In contrast, the Bosch Universal and the Concept with the American Hook, have trouble with small batches, and also have trouble with high hydration in that the dough gets wrapped around the center column.   For a regular sized batch at typical hydration levels, the Bosch is fine, and I don't know whether it is better than the Assistent, but since I pretty regularly make doughs in the 80 percent hydration and above, the Assistent is what I use the most.