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Experience with Esmach SP-5 micro mixer

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Maryann279's picture
Maryann279

Experience with Esmach SP-5 micro mixer

I've finally decided to bite the bullet and buy an Esmach SP-5 micro mixer, and am really looking forward to getting it.  I'd like to get some feedback from people experienced with the machine on how they cope with the single speed, as well as the lack of a reverse speed. 

I've been told to autolyze the flour and water for about 20 minutes before mixing a formula, which will eliminate the need to mix on second speed.  Is this the same as the double-hydration mentioned on other threads?

I've found on larger professional mixers (think 30 kilos of dough and up), the reverse speed is very useful to incorporate additional ingredients, such as nuts, dried fruit, etc.  Since this feature is not available on the SP-5, what is the best way to add those ingredients?  Maybe a little at a time through the lid opening while the machine is running?

Thanks.

Maryann

Chuck's picture
Chuck

... autolyze the flour and water for about 20 minutes ... Is this the same as the double-hydration ...?

Nope.

Autolyse is mixing the flour and water (and often the salt too, but not the yeast in most cases), then waiting a bit for it to self-develop. You might think of it as letting the ingredients knead themselves:-) "Hurry up and wait" is almost always a good idea  ...especially if you want to save either your biceps or your mixer.

Double-hydration is adding part of the water, then doing most of the development, and only then adding the rest of the water. It's a technique that's useful if the hydration is so high that if you added all the water right away, the result would be so soupy you'd have trouble developing the gluten. So instead, you develop the gluten at a somewhat lower hydration, and only then add the rest of the water.

Maryann279's picture
Maryann279

Chuck,

Thanks for the clarification.  I assume one would do double-hydration with doughs like ciabatta, etc?

I was recently at my daughter's house and wanted to make baguettes.  I wanted to try out autolysing the dough, and only combined the water and flour to begin with and let it rest.  The only yeast she had was active dry, so I used a little water that I held back from the autolyse, and held the yeast mixture and salt back until the autolyse was done.  I may have left the autolyse too long, because the gluten was very developed and it was difficult to incorporate the yeast and salt with the machine I was using.  Have you had that experience?



Chuck's picture
Chuck

Well I'm not the expert on every possible solution, but I definitely know the problem.

One typical solution I've heard about is to pull out the autolysed dough fairly thin on your work surface, sprinkle fresh/cake yeast (which is already moist) over it, and thoroughly work it in with your hands ("frissage").

Another solution -the one I mostly use- is to put active dry yeast (not "instant" yeast) in the mix before the autolyse, and also use cold water (from my filter pitcher in my fridge). It takes the ADY yeast in the cool dough at least a half hour to "wake up"  ...by which time the autolyse step is done.

I'm sure there's a better way though, and am curious what others do (especially with "instant" yeast).

longhorn's picture
longhorn

Hi Maryann!

Larger spirals typically have two speeds 100 and 200 rpm. The SP5 is 150. When I was at the SFBI Artisan I class in August I asked LOTS of questions about the SP5 for I have long considered buying one.

The basic gist of spiral mixing as I learned it at SFBI is to count screw rotations. The first mix is 5 minutes at speed 1 for a total of 500 revolutions. That would be only 3 minutes 20 seconds on an SP5 at 150 rpm. At 500 revolutions we always stopped and evaluated the gluten window. The short mix got zero to a minute or so at speed 2 equating to an additional 0 to 100 revolutions. The Improved Mix  got 5 minutes at speed 1 (500 revolutions) and 5 minutes at speed 2 (1000 revolutions). I don't have notes on the intense mix but I recall it being about 8 minutes at speed 2 (1600 revolutions). You can approximate the results with the SP5 by simply dividing the nubmer of revolutions by 150 to get the mixing time.

We did an autolyse improved mix baguette which mixed all the flour with all the water just to the point of wetness (no dry flour) and then let it rest for 20 minutes. Then add the yeast, salt, and malt (though the malt may be added in first mix for the autolyse). The prewetting of the flour allows gluten development such that the first mix (500 revolutions) comes very close to yielding a dough having improved mix characteristics. I believe all of our doughs required a bit more development which I think we did at speed 1. But in any event it was no more than another 100 revolutions or so.

Four minutes (600 revolutions) with the SP5 would have to be pretty close!

My conversations with Mac included the absense of a scraper bar in the SP5. I was concerned that its absense would require more mixing. Mac said it was very similar to the larger spirals. My interpretation is that you may find you need a few more or less revolutions (I would expect MORE) to achieve the same dough development with the SP5 but the above logic should get you close and you should always use a window to decide when the dough is ready.

PLEASE share your results and opinions of the SP5 with us for other eager buyers are lurking in the wings longing for opinions!

Thanks!

Jay

Yippee's picture
Yippee

This machine is known as a workhorse.  Large dough quantity is never a concern, but you need to pay attention to the MINIMUM dough weight it can handle and the corresponding hydration.  From my experience, a total dough weight of ~1,000 g at 68-70% hydration is the limit on the low end for this machine.  

 

I've been told to autolyze the flour and water for about 20 minutes before mixing a formula,

True.  If you want to skip that extra step, you can autolyze even AFTER mixing all the ingredients, as long as you are comfortable with the monitoring of bulk fermentation and  know what to look for during this process.  You know how people perform 'stretch and folds' for their dough? Think of it as 'S&F' done by your SP-5.  I usually briefly mix every ingredient, then let them sit for a while and run the machine for another minute or two and repeat this process until the dough reaches the desired gluten development.  

 

Since this feature is not available on the SP-5, what is the best way to add those ingredients?  Maybe a little at a time through the lid opening while the machine is running?

 Add nuts and dried fruit after gluten is substantially developed in your dough.  With the power of SP-5, it usually takes only an additional 1-2 minutes to completely blend in the nuts and fruit.  You may add them gradually if you have the patience or pour them all in at once, doesn't make a difference to me.

Hope this helps.

Yippee

 

Maryann279's picture
Maryann279

I now have one on order and am expecting to get it next week.  I will share my experiences ;-)

Maryann279's picture
Maryann279

I tried out the mixer today, making a double batch of the French Baguette recipe on the back of the KA flour bag.  A starter was mixed the day before, and today I mixed the rest of the formula; total weight 1800 g +, or about 9 cups of flour and 3 cups of water in all.

Everything went very smoothly.  The recipe called for the dough to be kneaded until nice and springy, but not totally smooth.  After 4 1/2 minutes, the dough was not that smooth, but since it was going to undergo three sets of folds over the next three hours, I decided to stop mixing.  My experience has been that the gluten continues to develop during that long a fold and rise period.

I was impressed by the ability of the machine to mix the dough thoroughly and completely.  While the dough climbed the hook somewhat, it was of the same texture and development as the dough in the rest of the bowl, unlike my previous mixer, where the dough would climb the hook but not continue to incorporate into the dough. 

Cleanup was a breeze - I scrubbed down the bowl and hook with a hot, wet paper towel to get the residue out, and then finished up with a damp dishcloth.  The manual says that the cleaning could be completed with alcohol on a cloth [I need to find out from the rep what type of alcohol they are talking about - I would want to use something food safe].  I would use alcohol if I were making an egg dough.

So far, I am very happy with my purchase.

longhorn's picture
longhorn

Hi MaryAnn!

Glad to hear you are off to a good start. 4 1/2 minutes would be about 675 revolutions which should approximate what SFBI calls a short mix. And in class we gave it 3 S&Fs at 30 minute intervals in a 3 hour bulk. So sounds like you were pretty consistent with their process.

For alcohol cleaning you could use rubbing alcohol. It would all evaporate.

Glad you commented on the texture. Sounds good!

I will look forward to your next report!

Jay