The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Mixer Quandary

Nomadcruiser53's picture
Nomadcruiser53

Mixer Quandary

I'm in a bit of a quandary about a mixer purchase. So far I have done all my mixing or kneadind in a bread machine or lately by hand. I'm thinking a mixer would be nice. I like the 1000W, 7Qt Cuisinart at Costco since returns are hassle free if there is a problem. It's $499 CDN and I'm not sure how that compares to Bosch or Electrolux. The other option that interests me is a used 20 Qt Hobart purchased online. I see a few at reasonable prices now and then. Is a 20 Qt mixer huge overkill for the 3 or 4 loaves I make a week? Actually I know it is, but is it even feasible? Would a 20 Qt be able to do a reasonable job on small batches? I'd hate to buy one and not be able to put it to use. Any input would be appreciated. TIA. Dave

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

What's the max amount (by weight) of dough you typically knead at one time? You say you make 3-4 loaves/week, but its unclear whether that is all at the same time or maybe split into 2 bakings/week or possibly different kinds of loaves (requiring different kinds of dough).


Besides the simple dough capacity you need, I'm also wondering whether you make breads that require greater strength from a mixer. For example...


> do you like to make bread with mostly (or all) high gluten flour? I'm thinking bagel or bialye dough - high gluten flour puts more stress on the mixer motor.


> do you make a lot of whole grain bread (from 70 - 100% whole grain). Weight for weight, whole grain dough puts more stress on the mixer motor than a mostly white flour dough.


Plus...


> do you sometimes only want to make only 1 -2 pounds of dough, maybe for a speciality bread that you're trying out or a bread you only make now and then?


It strikes me a 20 qt mixer is a bit overkill for most home bakers, especially if your typical amount of dough to be kneaded at one time is 4 lbs or under. The 7-qt Cuisinart sounds better.


I know a number of posters here praise the Bosch (I've never used one myself).


Overall, I'm recommending that you clarify your bread baking needs in more detail. The more detail you provide, the better we can help you.


Best of luck on your purchase decision.


==========================


PS & FYI - I like to use a mixer to combine ingredients and maybe do some initial kneading but, basically, I'm a "knead it by hand" baker.


My favorite kneading technique is shown is this video...sourdough.com/video/hand-kneading-demonstrated-french-baker-simon-gosset


 


 

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Hi Dave,


Price is of paramount consideration, of course, but check out the SP-5 mixer at TMB baking:


http://www.tmbbaking.com/sp5.html


If you just don't have the cash (probably over a grand, at least), or you're happy with a planetary mixer, then go no further.  Still, if you might have the cash and you need a grand rationalization for the extra spending, explain to yourself how happy you'll be using a mixer that does what you need it to do, with no compromises.


If you do opt for the planetary mixer, go to SteveB's blog:


http://www.breadcetera.com/?p=157


for very good tips on adapting a home-sized planetary mixer for professional-level mixing results.


Actually, there was a pretty good thread about mixers here:


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/11831/my-new-spiral-mixer


--Dan DiMuzio

Nomadcruiser53's picture
Nomadcruiser53

Thanks for the input Dan and Sub. I'll certainly review my mixer needs, but on the other side of the coin I'm kind of a "what if?" guy. I hate it when I buy something and then down the road it doesn't meet my needs. And there is always the occassion where you need to bake way more than normal needs. Dave

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Which leads to the conclusion (at least on my end) that even a high-priced mixer should be considered if, "down the road", it doesn't require major repairs and it does everything I need it to do with relative ease.  A cheaper mixer, used frequently for any sort of stiff bread dough, will wear down in just a couple of years or less, and if that happens, the $400.00 price tag was no bargain.


--Dan

handsandpaws's picture
handsandpaws

We bought the 1000 watt Cuisinart this past weekend for $299 at Williams f Sonoma. They are clearancing them out since they are replacing them with some new model of some sort (they weren't specific). I returned it 2 days later.


1. I didn't like the depth of the bowl. For normal batches of pre-ferment, I found the machine didn't do a great job because of the shape. I prefer my OLD KA for that. I also didn't like how narrow the area was between the dough hook and the side of the bowl, in order to add additional ingredients as you mix/knead. Of course you could use the cover, but you'd be taking it off constantly. (see #5)


2. It's loud. Loud isn't the word. It's very loud.


3. The engine heats up super fast and puts out a wierd odor.


4. While making a NORMAL batch of Italian bread...nothing major...oil started dripping from the machine, down over the dough hook and into the bowl. YUCK.


5. The dough rides up the dough hook and becomes quite comfy wrapped all around the plastic barrier to keep it going ALL the way up. Makes it "fun" when you have to unwrap the dough and push it back into the bowl so it continues to knead properly.


6. I wasn't overly thrilled with the plastic mat the mixing bowl sits on. I wonder how long that will last if you're a regular bread maker?


7. The way the head of the machine tilts back isn't condusive to those of us with low cabinets. I had to move it repeatedly every time I wanted to open it to unstick the dough from the hook. 


If you're a knead it by hand type of guy like you say, I'd say hit up ebay and look for an old KitchenAid. And I mean the old ones. The non plastic gear ones. Can probably find one for $50. No reason to spend tons on something just to get the dough mixed together. My great grandmother would have had a fit if she knew I even used my KA as much as I did!! An Italian using a machine to make bread!? A travesty!! (her eyes, not mine!!)


 

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Ya know, it's funny you should mention old KitAids's versus newer ones, because the older ones were manufactured by Hobart.  The newer ones are not.  I'm not certain when that switch occurred.


--Dan

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

To the best of my knowledge KitchenAid was sold by Hobart to Whirlpool in 1986 or something real close to that.  The drop in quality was quite noticable as evidenced by the endless and continuing complaints about the contemporary KA's and their inherent lack of durability.  I have heard recently that they have or are planning to return to all metal construction but I have strong doubts about the overall quality no matter what they might change or upgrade.


I bought a Hobart made KA (K5SS) on Ebay a few years back and paid about $100.  I look at Ebay now and then and it seems that the current price for a Hobart KA is $100 or more.


Jeff

tananaBrian's picture
tananaBrian

Well, I've had my KitchenAid since 1992, so that makes it 17 years old now.  It was one of the first ones they called the 'Professional' and I think it has about a 525 watt motor in it.  Nothing is perfect, but I use it for making bread on a regular basis and for grinding sausage as well.  It's lasted this long without problems of any kind, although 'something' in it is louder than it used to be.  My sister-in-law told me not to worry, that hers did the same thing.  Apparently the machine is designed with a sacrificial gear in it that wears quicker than the others, so rather than wearing out the whole machine, you just wear out the one gear or something like that.  Anyway, it's a simple replacement from what I understand, but I've never researched it.  I just planned on buying the new 575 watt version when this one gives up the ghost.  I think the truth is, that if you are wearing out your KA, that you are either mixing batches too large for it, which you can do with any machine, or you are incorporating too much flour while the dough is still in the mixer.  The only dough that risks this for me is 100% rye, and I've learned to finish the rye outside the mixer rather than force the mixer to do it all.  No big deal.  I won't be complaining about 17 years of service with no failures, and since mine was built and bought after Hobart sold the product line to Whirlpool, I'm not sure what all the fuss is about.  I still think the top-end KA is the best value purchase on the market and is completely adequate to the task, and should last long enough as well ...unless there have been changes in quality that I'm not aware of that is!  I'd hate to buy yet another American product only to find out that the batards (you know what I mean) have violated my trust once again and sneaked in low quality while keeping the price high ...a very bad move on any company's part that only generates additional profit margin for a short time, since the customers quickly abandon them for brands that are more reliable.  I will definitely do more research before I blindly buy another mixer.


Brian

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

There's no arguing with success. 


Other mechanical things display similar results where 90% say it's great and 10% say not or the other way around.  Glad you got a good one.


Jeff

Nomadcruiser53's picture
Nomadcruiser53

I'll keep looking. I don't mind paying for quality and I usually go bigger than I anticipate needing. I just don't want to buy a used 20 Qt hobart if it won't mix small batches. Dave

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I think we at TFL have to keep in mind that we use mixers almost in a professional capacity (hard and a lot), and that many of today's mixers (like those immaculate designer kitchens outfitted with the best of the best) are not really used that much (are mostly for show).


--Pamela

dlt123's picture
dlt123

I too make 3-4 loaves a week and I use a very inexpensive Oster Kitchen Center.  I purchased mine at a Senior Center Rumage sale for $12 and it came with all the attachments.



 



It works great and you can usually pick one up on eBay for a good price.  I use the dough hooks that come with the unit and it kneeds my bread perfectly.  I highly recommend this unit since it is so inexpensive and it does an excellent job.


I should note that I have had this machine for about a year, and it is still running like new.


Just giving you another option to spending a lot of money on a machine... Of course your milage may vary.


 


Dennis

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Looks great, Dennis. You've got a meat grinder and everything (I use my meat grinder all the time).


--Pamela

dlt123's picture
dlt123

Yeah for the price, it can't be beat...  With this unit you can also buy a pasta maker which works pretty good. Works for me.  :)


Dennis
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
Belief has no affect on reality.
My Website: http://www.roadtobetterliving.com

Nomadcruiser53's picture
Nomadcruiser53

There are definately deals to be had if your in the right place at the right time. Dave

davidinportland's picture
davidinportland

Hi there,


I posted my results with my Cuisinart 7 quart earlier this week in a different spot. But, I'll recap here. I've had it for a month and love it. I use it as much as 5-7 times per week for tasks ranging from Viennoiseries to relatively heavy-duty bread making (8 cups of whole wheat flour well hydrated). It works like a champ under all circumstances. Like any planetary mixer, on occasion you have to scrape down the sides (same with KA, Viking); I also found this necessary with a Bosch that I used for a number of weeks, but just couldn't bond with. This Cuisinart replaced the short-term Bosch, but moreover replaced years of KitchenAids, culminating with a Professional 600 that seemed to fall short with almost any bread demands I placed on it.


I've had no odor, over-heating, or strain from the Cuisinart, to include a 15 minute kneading cycle last night on whole wheat dough. I've been surprised to hear people comment on it's loudness. I don't think it's at all louder than the Bosch Universal and is only marginally louder than the KA Professional 600. Keep in mind, it has a much larger motor, which will add some volume (e.g., Harley Davidson will likely be louder than a moped).


Short of the Hobart n50s I used in culinary school (and larger models that are too big for a home kitchen), I haven't been more pleased with any mixer than I am with this Cuisinart.


Enjoy whatever you choose and just use, use, use it during the period in which you can exchange/return it in case this significant investment isn't right for you. 

landras's picture
landras

I have a 5.5 qts at home since february 2008 and I love it. I make bread at least one a week and a lot of pastry stuff (I'm in pastry school so I practice during the weekends). I never smell burn or over heating. I do have to say that it is loud but also the KA is loud. I'm using KA at school and I have to say that I do prefer the cuisinart over the KA. Very, very good stuff.


my 2 cents

Nomadcruiser53's picture
Nomadcruiser53

It's good to hear some good news about the Cuisinart. Dave

Bill Fisher's picture
Bill Fisher

I have the 5 quart Cuisinart and can't report complete satisfaction.


As a general mixer it does quite well and I do like it better than my dead Kitchenaid for light batters and general whipping but I have the following gripes when mixing whole wheat doughs:


- In three months the mixing bowl loosened up and rattles.  Doesn't sound like a big deal, I know, but it's one more thing to be annoyed at.


- I did overheat mine.  Twice.  It stopped on its own, like its suppose to, and I don't think there is any damage but I need to closely supervise the knead time, < than 5 mins once all of the flour has been added. 


- 5 quart size was a mistake.  Even for my family of 3 I need 2 to 3 loaves a week and even a 2 loaf batch is a bit too much for this size mixer.  Not the mixers fault but I can't recommend this size unless you are going to make small batches.


- I haven't decided whether it's louder than other models, but it is annoying to me.  If it turns out that all other machines are just as loud then this problem's on me.  Still, I get annoyed listening to it drone under load.  And the rattle and clack (loose mixing bowl) as it kneads.


 


On the plus side:


- I love the timer.  It's worth it on any machine.


- I like the tilting head design.  More than the lifting bowl of the dead kitchenaide.


- I like the soft start, I would be one of those with flour on their faces if not for the slow start.  The soft stop doesn't impress me, I have no idea why I need to stop slowly.


- It's quite compact which is nice even if you have a large space to use it like I do.


 


In short, I don't think that the problem is with the mixer, it works very well for it's intended purpose.  But how do you find out what is the correct mixer for heavy doughs?  The Manufacturs/Retailers are not to be believed (according to them it will mix anything and clean up the kitchen when it's done :) ).


 


Bill (frustrated engineer seraching for the proper mixer.  That I can afford :) )

flourgirl51's picture
flourgirl51

A 20 qt Hobart is a bit of an overkill for what you are talking about baking. You have to have the room for it and it is very heavy.


I have both the KA PRO11 and the Bosch Universal. The Bosch is definitely a workhorse. I make between 28 -32 loaves of whole grain breads for each weekends market and it makes great bread. The KA gets hot in just a two loaf batch while the Bosch can handle a four - 2 lb batch of whole grain dough with no problem.

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Hi flourgirl,


What's the capacity of the Bosch in terms of dough weight?  And do you know the cost these days?