The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Mixer Ratings by Cook's Illustrated

Cliff Johnston's picture
Cliff Johnston

Mixer Ratings by Cook's Illustrated

I've read with interest the various threads posted here about mixers - likes and dislikes.  I was browsing through the "2005 Cook's Illustrated" annual when I came across an article in the "November & December 2005" issue titled "Mix Masters".  Needless to say I read the entire article avidly.  Rather than repeat the entire article I'll just lift a few of the points that I found very interesting. 

"Cook's Illustrated" rated the mixers on the following task categories:  Capacity, Price, Wattage, Dye Incorporation, Kneading, Creaming, Whipping, Design, and Features.

"Rating Standing Mixers - Recommended: 

1.  KitchenAid Professional 600:  With 18 models tested, a KitchenAid still came out on top - though just barely edging out the DeLonghi.  With 575 watts (the median for the group), it plowed through 4 cups of dough almost two minutes faster than most  "super-wattage" models.  Ideal 6-quart capacity distributed wide (rather than tall) made for easy scraping and additions, if a bit more flour spray.

2.  DeLonghi DSM5:  Watching this compact mixer expertly cream butter and sugar into a uniform consistency was a thing of beauty.  Flared bowl and well-sized attachment kept ingredients "low in the bowl" and minimized scrapiing.  A bit more composure during heavy workloads might have broken the near-tie for first in its favor.

3.  Hobart N50:  "Purrs like a kitten," said testers about this industrial-strength lion, as it calmly processed rustic dough, oatmeal cookies, and anything else we threw its way.  Narrow bowl mouth (the narrowest) made it awkward to add ingredients, and turning off power to change speeds was a pain - but not as much as transporting the 55-pound beast."

Then there was the largest group "Recommended With Reservations" and finally the "Not Recommended" group which included:

"Electrolux DLX-2000 Assistent:  Wide bowl allowed easy access and capacity for nine bread loaves, but cookies, cakes, and even single loaves got lost in the abyss.  The roller tool's grooves are a haven for butter, and the least intuitive user interface in the lineup had us constantly re-deciphering the manual before every task."

There were a couple of very interesting tests/comments in the main-body of the article. 

One test involved using food coloring to evaluate the mixing ability of the mixers to thoroughly mix 4 cups of pizza dough.  I'll just lift a few words here:  "The quickest?  A speedy 3:45 .  From fastest to slowest:  KitchenAid Professional 600 (3:45), Bosch Universal (4:45), DeLonghi 7 (5:03), Hobart (5:30)...(omissions)...and Electrolux (11:15).  And wattage?  Clearly unrelated."

This comment about wattage is explained:  "If I hadn't included the Hobart in the lineup, I might never have discovered the sneaky truth behind wattage ratings.  Most mixers list their power in watts;  Hobart is the only one to use horsepower.  When I learned that 1/6 HP equals a mere 124 watts, I scratched my head in puzzlement.  How could this quiet, powerful workhorse have the lowest wattage rating in such a hacking, shuddering group (from 250 watts to 1,000 watts)?  Turns out Hobart is the only mixer to list output power rather than input power.  What's the difference?  Output wattage is the amount of power the motor actually produces - which flows out of the motor, moves through the mixer arm, and, ultimately, smacks the ingredients around.  Every other mixer lists input wattage, which is simply the power that flows from the electrical outlet into the mixer's motor.  What does input wattage tell you about the power of a mixer?  Absolutely nothing - it's purely a marketing gimmick."  How interesting!!!

breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

I read that issue when it came out. As a DLX owner I was a little dissapointed with their review, though the machine is so unlike the rest of them it is hard to compare. I will agree that smaller batches of cookies etc. are "lost" in it (though wet batters such as cakes do just fine).

 

This quote never made sense though:

"and the least intuitive user interface in the lineup had us constantly re-deciphering the manual before every task.""

The DLX has TWO knobs, one is a timer and the other is speed, so how hard can it be? If they mean the actual design (IE how to assemble etc, not the "interface") then I guess I can understand somewhat, especially if you're coming at it from a planetary mixer experience.

 

The wattage thing is funny too--I had suspected that advertising watts was just a marketing ploy! At the time I bought my DLX I was hearing a lot of bad things about the KAs (5 or so years ago), for example that they were making them larger capacity but not improving the motors, hence burnouts etc. I think they've turned around and are doing better now, based on how many folks seem happy with them. The funny thing to me is at the time the DLX was a LOT more expensive than all the rest, but now everyone is just making higher end models that are just as pricey--like the Viking.

 

I really bought my DLX just to make large batches of bread, and I love it. It also does other things fine, but I did eventually pick up a KA Artisan on sale for little tasks, and I like it okay too. If I was just starting to look for a mixer now, I'm not sure what I'd do!

Cliff Johnston's picture
Cliff Johnston

I think perhaps that if the DLX were used primarily as a dedicated, large-batch, bread mixer then it would rate much higher, in fact on top;  however, the article appeared to be keyed into the small-batch, multifunction user.

Yes, I had to chuckle too at the comment about having difficulty deciphering the manual.  Perhaps INS should check there for illegal aliens??? (said tongue-in-cheek and not meant to offend anyone;  however, should anyone take offence - tough)

Cliff. Johnston
"May the best you've ever seen,
 Be the worst you'll ever see;"
from A Scots Toast by Allan Ramsay

fthec's picture
fthec

I, too, have performed my own tests with the Bosch, Electrolux, and KA (for bread dough only).  I strongly disagree with the CI results regarding pizza dough.  There is no way that a KA will "thoroughly" mix a batch of pizza dough in 3:45.  Never..ain't gonna happen.  Even at speed#4, which is 104 RPM, you'd need at least 8 minutes for proper gluten development, and by that time, the dough would be badly overoxidized.  The Bosch is quickest at developing various types of bread dough, from high hydration ciabatta to super stiff bagel dough.  The KA would seize in minutes with bagel dough.

Finally, it's true that wattage ratings are not necessarily a good predictor of mixing prowess-  e.g. a 450W DLX is more powerfull than a 600W KA.

athagan's picture
athagan

Cooks Illustrated was reviewing the mixers from the point of view of their general use for all of the varied things one might use a stand mixer for. From that point of view I suppose they weren't too far off.

I have a Bosch Universal and I use it primarily for making bread. For that purpose I think it excels. I've made as much as five loaves worth of dough at one time and it turned it all out without straining.

If KitchenAid had been making their professional model with all steel gears like they used to do way back when at the time I was shopping for mixers I'd have gotten one. I spent a fair amount of time researching stand mixers then and it was near universal from what I could find that if you wanted to do three or more loaves of whole-wheat bread dough then don't get a KitchenAid because they couldn't handle it. Thus I got the Bosch.

.....Alan. 

The Prudent Food Storage FAQ

http://athagan.members.atlantic.net/Index.html

pumpkinpapa's picture
pumpkinpapa

A very interesting read about these different mixers that I have been curious about for some time.

I have a KA 300 and it is good for cakes, cookies and such but bread, pizza and the like is a no no. I recently mixed and kneaded 13 pounds of sicilian dough by hand, and then again in pieces in the KA (2 pounds at a time). And the machine took longer and shuddered around the counter too, mind you my biceps were like iron that night and my mind is still on a Hobart when I have to 20 pound batches :)