The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Do I need a stand mixer?

butterflygrooves's picture

Do I need a stand mixer?

I want to make the AB pretzels on the homepage but I don't have a stand mixer or a food processer.  I have a hand mixer or a wooden spoon at best.  Do I really need a stand mixer to make them?

ejm's picture

I haven't made the pretzels but I can't see that you HAVE to have a stand mixer or food processor. I hand mix all of our bread - I generally knead for 10 to 15 minutes.

I just looked at the Pretzels recipe (I'm assuming this is the one you mean?) and see that it includes an instruction for hand mixing:

Either use an electric mixer to mix the dough for 5 minutes or remove it from the bowl and knead it by hand for 5 to 10 minutes until the dough begins to get smooth and satiny.

Try to add as little flour as possible when you're kneading.

Happy Pretzel making!!


flour-girl's picture

I haven't made that particular recipe ... But I've made all the bread for our house in the last year or so and have never used a stand mixer!


I just love to knead ...


Happy baking!


Flour Girl

LindyD's picture

This is the recipe the OP was referring to.  The photo is on the home page.

While the directions call for a mixer, you certainly can do it by hand. It will just take longer to mix the ingredients.

ejm's picture

Aha. Thanks for posting the recipe location, Lindy.

Yes, definitely no problem hand-kneading. The dough looks a little looser than the dough for the Hamelman pretzels but it still shouldn't be a problem to hand knead. (I even hand-knead dough that looks like porridge - please see Kneading Slack Dough by Hand).


P.S. <rant>This is one of my pet peeves about so many of the TV cooks. They're always instructing people to waste resources by using electric mixers, food processors, and miles of plastic wrap and/or aluminum foil. (Sure, electric mixers, food processors and plastic/aluminum sheeting have their places but they don't have to be used for absolutely everything.)</rant>

Nim's picture

No, I hand knead all of my bread doughs. I have sometimes used the dough hook on my hand held mixer (KA) but I have never felt the need for a stand mixer.

baltochef's picture

A human kneading bread with their hands can do ANYTHING that a mchanical mixer run by electricty can do, except for two things..The human will take longer, sometimes a lot longer, to develop the gluten strands in the bread than will the machine; and in most instances the human hands will not be able achieve as high of internal temperatures after the kneading is finished as will the machine..Other than that, 21st Century bread bakers need to realize that mechanical dough kneading machines are a relatively recent tool for home bread bakers..People have been using their hands to knead and shape breads for thousands of years..I ALWAYS recommend learning to knead by hand before learning to use machines..This way one learns a "feel" for the proper texture and elasticity that a dough should have..This tactile sense of feel for a properly worked dough cannot be overstated..If the machine fails, for whatever reasons, then one knows how to dump the partially worked dough out onto a counter, and to finish kneading it by hand, with little or no angst..


ejm's picture

Bruce wrote:

in most instances the human hands will not be able achieve as high of internal temperatures after the kneading is finished as will the machine

This is precisely why I hand knead. There are so many cautionary notes about watching for overkneading and overheating the dough when kneading with a machine. It's virtually impossible to overknead or overheat the dough with hand-kneading.

It takes 10 to 15 minutes to hand-knead dough.

And the cleanup is WAY easier and uses up far fewer resources.

This is why I ALWAYS recommend learning to hand-knead all the time and to forget about learning how to knead with a machine unless a physical problem like broken arm or arthritis forces the use of the machine. Save the mixer for when you want to beat a lot of eggs until they are light and frothy.