The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Metal Vs. Plastic Mixer Bowl

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Braxton's picture
Braxton

Metal Vs. Plastic Mixer Bowl

I am getting the Bosch Universal Mixer.  It comes with a plastic bowl.  However, there is a metal bowl replacement accessory for $140.  Why would I want to switch the plastic bowl for a metal one?  Would that improve the bread or dough some how?

Thanks.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Keep the original plastic bowl. No reason to buy the $140 metal bowl - it has no bearing on how your bread will turn out.

dwcoleman's picture
dwcoleman

I have the Bosch Universal, I'm thinking about getting the metal bowl replacement myself.  Unfortunately the plastic bowl doesn't seem to disperse heat quick enough, a metal one would.

After kneading the dough for 10 minutes I can get the dough temperature up to 120F!

davidg618's picture
davidg618

...especially if you frequently want to chill the bowl's contents quickly, or keep cold contents cold; e.g., retarding dough, sausage-making food safety, egg whites, etc.

David G

ehanner's picture
ehanner

As per the other comments above/below, I would add that learning to control dough temperature is the single most important aspect within your control in baking. This has been established by authors far and wide, who recognize the need to be able to predict yeast activity in dough. Temperature and yeast activity are connected directly. We adjust dough temperature with water temperature to arrive at the DDT (desired dough temp). If you then place your 78F dough in a stainless steel bowl that is 60F (as mine frequently is), the result will be a cold and slow dough. On the other hand, if you warm the bowl first, you will find the dough stays at the DDT much better. Hope this helps. Plastic speaks for itself.

Eric

FoodFascist's picture
FoodFascist

Despite what others have said about the benefits of metal's high heat conductivity, I'd save money and stick with plastic. Many metals are known to inhibit the activity of microorganisms and even kill them (silverware, for example, is still used today to desinfect water - one of the reasons why churches use silver chalises and silver crosses to serve wine/make water holy, and people give silver spoons, cups, etc. as gifts for a new baby). Small quantities of ions from the metal your bowl is made of will transfer to the liquid in your dough. This is why many people, often intuitively, prefer to only use plastic, wooden or glass/stoneware utensils when handling dough, kefir, yoghurts and other foods which have live culture in them. That said, if you're using large quantities of dough and not leaving it in the bowl for very long, any harm done will be minimal and probably negligible.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Home mixers are scaled down copies of the commercial tools available to professional bakers and chefs. ALL commercial mixers are made with stainless steel bowls. They are easy to clean. You can't easily cut the inner surface thereby providing a place for bacteria to hide and multiply later, and yes they are more stable to temperature control. Heavy, yes. Expensive, yes. Teething toy, no.

Eric

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Sorry, FoodFascist, but while the use of non-metallic instruments for mixing leavened preparations is well established as a good "be safe not sorry" practice, the metallurgy that might apply to non-ferrous metals doesn't apply to stainless steel (e.g. stand mixer bowls).

Braxton   -  go for the metal bowl.

FoodFascist's picture
FoodFascist

FnW, please don't confuse fellow TFLers. Iron is one of the metals most easily susceptible to hydrolysis. Many ferrous alloys are as well. Of course stainless steel is one of the most resilient alloys but it's not totally safe from corrosion either, especially in an environment high in salt or notably, bacteria. Industrial applications of steel sometimes involve implanting another metal, e.g. zink, which corrodes more quickly than metals in steel, thereby retarding the corrosion of steel itself. However, I couldn't tell you  how much this would apply to dough and food-grade stainless steel. I don't know exactly how food-grade steel is protected from corrosion and how good that protection is. I don't know whether the mirco-organisms in sourdough would accelerate corrosion of steel. Above all, as I said previously, if you don't leave the dough to sit around in the bowl you'd probably be all right.

That said, most metal utensils these days are made of steel, not copper or aluminium or silver (silver utensils are perfectly safe to use though, and even have health benefits). Yet the advice to not allow them to contact live culture remains.

As to the safety of mass-produced gear in general... aluminium cans are meant to be safe, aren't they? Well in my bygone days as a chemistry student, I once tested a bit of Pepsy out of a can. Just for fun. The amount of aluminium in it was unbelievable, even the teacher was taken aback - cans are meant to be coated after all. Well obviously this coating doesn't work.

Is the plastic bowl in question made of good enough quality plastic though? I don't know.

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Excellent points.  The only health risk for relying on plastic products is probably lead.  A little lead in your bread?  What the heck.  Go for it .....

FoodFascist's picture
FoodFascist

As I said you'd wanna know the quality of the plastic in that bowl. I've never heard of lead in food plastics. would you care pointing me to your source? I wouldn't be surprised by anything these days but I'd like the opportunity to read up on it.

Aluminium is no better than lead yet most of us use aluminium frying pans. And don't give a heck if we scratch the coating.

"Lead may also be released from soldered joints in kettles used to boil water for
beverages<...>The amount of lead added to paints and ceramic products, caulking, gasoline, and
solder has also been reduced in recent years " but some remains. http://www.haz-map.com/leadfact.htm. Fancy lead in your tea, from both kettle and mug?

You'd consume more lead and other heavy metals from "organic" food grown by the side of a busy road (as plants absorb petrol fumes and toxic dust your car spits out) than from the dough you had in a plastic bowl for like 5 minutes. That's even if your bowl even has traces of lead in the first place.

That said, most food plastics contain a lot of other nice stuff - BPA for example. Which is why I only use wooden or glass bowls for my dough but I don't own a mixer that can mix dough.

To conclude, I'm not saying plastic is generally better than stainless steel. I don't know if it is or isn't. However I suspect that for dough containing live organisms and quite a bit of acid if may be a safer bet, unless as I keep saying you make sure your dough doesn't remain in contact with metal for a long time.

 

 

sammarshall's picture
sammarshall

I stopped using plastic some years ago.I don't have the patience to discover what is food grade and what is not. Dishwasher safe or not? Good quality or not?     With everything being imported today I would most certainly not use plastic. My Kitchenaid K5-A has a stainless bowl that has served a multitude of services and still looks like the day I bought it 40+ years ago. Plastic is made for landfills, not food prep. As to saving money? I rest my case.

 

 

 

Braxton's picture
Braxton

Ok...so, if I wanted the metal bowl then the Bosch Universal and the Magic Mill DLX mixer are about the same price.  Looks like I have more thinking, reading, and analyzing to do.  Darn.  lol

Thanks so much for the comments so far.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

If it is down to deciding on Bosch or DLX, please try and find somewhere near by to actually use one or see one up close being used. The two work very differently and there is a learning curve to the DLX that some find daunting. I have a DLX and love it but others struggle with the weird way the roller works. This is a long discussed topic here so a search on the names will reveal much information that should help you decide, or, drive you crazy.

Eric

dwcoleman's picture
dwcoleman

Such a passionate debate over a somewhat trivial topic, only bakers and engineers would do that!

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Not so trivial actually, considering the price.

If they were the same price, it would be a no brainer; Stainless Steel.

Patf's picture
Patf

would be to mix and knead on your work surface, whether tiled, or melamine or marble or wood or whatever.

I don't have a machine and do  all the mixing and kneading by hand.

Of course for commercial quantities this isn't possible.

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Yeah. But there are other things to mix besides dough. Batters, liquids, ad infinitum really.