The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Floydm's picture

Mixer musings

I baked for many years without using a mixer or any special gear. I really enjoy mixing and kneading by hand, and think it is a great way to get to know about dough.

But after a while it became clear a mixer would be helpful.  Not so much because there were things I couldn't do without a mixer, but because I could do much more of it with the help of a mixer.  Three or four batches of bread in an afternoon barehanded is exhausting; with a decent mixer it just becomes challenging to schedule everything so that it is ready to go into the oven at the right time.  A good mixer is a tremendous labour saver.

My first mixer was an entry level KitchenAid, something like this.  I found it on super duper sale and was very pleased with it.  I've put a lot of mileage on it and never had a breakdown, though there definitely were times I had to divide a batch or take a break from mixing because I could tell I was putting too much strain on it.

Last spring I decided it was time for an upgrade.  I think it was the Milk Bread with Tangzhong that finally did it: that dough was so sticky it would climb up the hook and get into the head of the mixer in a matter of seconds.  For every second spent mixing, I think I spent five scraping down the dough.  I'd had it.

After much research, including reading many of your threads here, I set my sights on an Ankarsrum Original mixer (aka Assistent, DLX, Electrolux, Verona, or Magic Mill).  It is a pricy machine, but given the amount of time and energy I spend baking, it seemed like a worthy investment that would pay off over the years. 

I've been using this mixer since September and really enjoying it.  Super sturdy build with a much larger capacity.   My KitchenAid used to walk all over the counter when it was mixing and I always had to stop it and scrape the dough back down into the bowl, whereas this thing barely moves and rarely does the dough get stuck on hook. This is the most I've ever seen it budge:

So while it has a bigger footprint than my KitchenAid, I don't have to give it as much clearance since it isn't whipping all over the place and bumping around like my old machine was. 

I'm still getting adjusted to using a spiral mixer -- meaning the bowl spins and the hook stays still -- rather than a planetary mixer where the hook moves and the bowl is stationary.  My preliminary impression is that while it takes a bit longer to knead the doughs in the spiral mixer with the dough hook, it does a better job, something much more akin to a hand kneading than the serious beating that my dough would get in the KitchenAid.  

Also, it may be completely irrational but I've always been scared of getting injured by a planetary mixer. I saw a colleague of mine get his hand caught in a large planetary mixer the first week I worked at a bakery.  That was a much more powerful and dangerous machine than my little countertop mixer, for certain.  But I like that my new mixer has a large, open bowl that makes it easy to watch the dough develop or poke it while the mixer is running (which I'm certain the instructions tell you never to do) without fear of having the hook swing around and catch a finger. Make of that what you will.

What else?  Yes, I actually feel like I am learning a lot more about dough development since it so easy to watch it now.  That's a pretty big deal, actually. 

The two attachments I use a lot are this heavy beater thing for getting ingredients incorporated:

And then the dough hook once my dough is together:

There also is a plastic bowl and attachments that allow you to use this as a standard mixer/beater, which we've used to beat eggs, make whipping cream and cake with.   See?

My favourite accessory that comes with it?  Very silly, but the plastic lid that fits the bowl just so.  For things like autolyze it is so handy to have.  I'm sure you can buy something similar for a KitchenAid, but I never did.

I've been in touch with both the US Ankarsrum distributor and the Canadian Ankarsrum distributor. They seem like good folks who thoroughly believe in the quality of these mixers.  

This mixer is a huge step forward for me.  I think is both going to make baking easier (and less frustrating) for me and, ultimately, make me a better baker, which is a very good thing!  :)

I know some other folks have been considering getting one and asking questions about them.  Let me know if there are any questions I can answer or particular features you want me to demo.  I should note though that I've never used the Bosch mixer or a higher end KitchenAid so I don't think I can offer a meaningful comparison.

chera's picture

Bakeable Cream for Danish

I need a recipe for a bakeable custard/pastry cream to use on Danish pastries.

Looking for one that will hold its shape, not "explode", or get completely absorbed into the pasty.

I've used several commercial ones that work great (Puratos) but I need one made from scratch.

If not available, any ideas on how I can keep the pastry "dented" so I can deposit the cream after baking?

varda's picture

Fig Anise Bread

Recently a customer asked me to bake a fig anise bread.   She had bought a loaf from Standard Baking in Portland Maine, and loved it, but doesn't get up there often.   At first I was a little reluctant to go down this road, as I thought figs?   anise?   really?   but then decided to see what I could come up with.   A search on TFL revealed that there was just such a bread in Nancy Silverton's La Brea book.    As this has been on my list forever, I bought a copy, procured some dried black mission figs and anise seed, and put it together.   This morning I baked the loaf, cooled it and then dug in.   I have to say this bread is incredibly delicious.   The anise helps instead of hurts as I had worried.  The figs are absolutely decadent.   Sometimes it is good to listen to people (not always of course.)  

The crust of this bread comes out almost black.   Fortunately Nancy Silverton warns of this, or I would have thought I was burning the bread after only 30 minutes.   The only bread I've seen darker than this is Syd's squid ink bread.   But I didn't use any of that.

I must have read this somewhere on TFL as I'm hardly a gourmand, but this bread is just made to go with goat cheese.   What a treat.  

So two questions.   Has anyone been to Standard Baking?   (Karin?)    Any chance that this is the same bread as they sell there?    What is your favorite bread from  Silverton's book?   I can't wait to try something else.

christinepi's picture

Is there hope?

I've lovingly tended to and fed my starter twice a day for a week now, keeping it on the countertop. It always doubled within 4-6 hours after feeding, and bubbled nicely. Yesterday evening I used Breadtopia's sourdough no knead recipe. I've made no knead recipes with yeast with success a number of times. So this morning, when I checked, I hoped to see the same kind of rise as with the yeast loaves. No such luck. Just sitting there like a brick, hardly risen at all. There are still 5 hours left to go, but I can't imagine much happening in that time. 

If it's still small in 5 hours, should I even bother to continue? It would be such a waste to throw away all that dough, but I don't want to eat a brick. Well, my chickens would, I guess, if I soaked it long enough. What could have gone wrong? Starter still too young?

ichadwick's picture

Tweeting bakers? Who to follow?

Any suggestions who to follow on Twitter? I have already followed:


Any others who you think I should follow?

golgi70's picture

Olive Levain

Made with 35% fresh milled local Hard Red Winter Wheat (Hollis).  I miscalculated with the olives and after pitting came up short but proceeded.  I will post my formula but I'd double this for sure.  The addition of an herb could also be nice but my olives were a mix of three green varieties brined with garlic and oregano.  Had I used enough maybe I wouldn't need any herbs.  I'll find out next time around. 

Olive Levain:                              Makes two large or three smaller loaves                                                                                                                                         

Total Flour       1120

Total H20           813             72.5%

Olives                 150            13.5 %

Levain: 3-4 hours @ 72.5% hydration DDT 78F (20% prefermented flour)
90 Wheat Starter
180 Wheat, fresh milled
118 H20
200    Wheat
32      Rye
663    Artisan (malted bread flour @ 11.5% protein)
650.   H20
150    Olives, herbed (a mixed variety of garlic oregano green olives)
16      Salt


Total Dough = 2132   3 loaves at 705 or 2 loaves at 1066  

Drain and dry olives on paper towels when you make the levain. 

Autolyse 2 hours

Add levain and mix on speed 1 for 3 minutes 

Add salt and continue mixing on speed 1 until well incorporated. 

Turn to medium speed and devlop dough to medium development.

Add olives and mix until evenly dispersed.

Bulk ferment 2 1/2 hours with stretch and fold at the 30 minute and 1:15 minute mark

Divide, preshape, shape to bowls.  Retard for 8-12 hours

Bake 500 w/steam and turn down to 460 and continue for 20-30 minutes pending size of your loaf. 


Beloz's picture

First SD loaf - moderate fail

So I finally baked with my first starter on the weekend. I was very excited!

I was going to make this loaf: But I made the recommended levain the night before and it didn't even have one bubble in it by the next morning. So I went to plan b and made this one instead:, but followed the kneading and shaping instructions for the first recipe. (Apart from missing the reference to kneading on speed 2-3, so it took a long time in the Kenwood Chef)

The result was not a complete failure, but after 6 hours proofing it still hadn't risen enough. I baked anyway, hoping for a miracle. It came out looking more like a cake than bread, but the crumb isn't too bad and the taste is pleasant. Would've taken photos but it was a late night and I'm not a morning person either.

Now for my questions to the hive!

1. I just read another thread about starter ratio. And only just notice that that second recipe uses  50%+ starter! (If you are supposed to compare it to water/flour in the recipe, that is). So might that be why my proof took so long? I was going to try this same recipe again tonight, put it in the fridge overnight and then let it proof for 8 hours tomorrow, but now I'm not sure if it's worth it?

2. When I checked the levain for the recipe I originally wanted to make after 24 hours, it did have plenty of bubbles in it. It was too late to use it, so I put it in the fridge. Can I still use that? Or will the yeast have been starved by now?

3. If either of the above recipes are not feasible to start on tonight (I want to bake tomorrow night!), can you recommend any other sandwich bread recipes that you've tried? I'm trying to please an 8yo who has gotten used to super-soft white bread and hasn't liked any of my home-made bread so far. I want to make it SD because it's healthier and I love the idea of it.

Thanks in advance!

ichadwick's picture

Best app or program for keeping a baking journal/diary?

Any recommendations for keeping a journal or diary for baking? I have both Windows PC and iPad.

I thought of creating a Wordpress site, bit that seems a bit over-the-top for something potentially modest. I want to keep track of recipes I try, changes, experiments, added ingredients, etc.

Suggestions welcome.


talalzahid's picture

help in identify the problem with my bagels.

Hi there, 

I followed peter reinhart recipe for bagels.  i had 12 bagels 3 which i baked without retardation which turned good. but then when i retarded the rest for the next day for some reason the dough was overproofed ( even with cold temperture in the fridge) and i hardly could pick them up out of the try and drop them in the water and they were super flat. 

I have a feeling that my tray cover is the problem or maybe the dough temp was more than 80 ? 

attached couple of pictures. 


thanks in advance


philyphil's picture

Some greenish looking starter

Hello! I'm new to bread baking and I've started my first starter about two days ago. This morning I checked on my starter and it has a greenish little puddles on top of it. Is this ok? I've read that this is just alcohol and as long as it smells tangy and is not pink it's ok.