The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Mixers (Horizontal, Spiral & Planetary)

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Bhoodies_B's picture
Bhoodies_B

Mixers (Horizontal, Spiral & Planetary)

Hello TFL. I would like to know more on the three (3) types of mixers as follows:

- Horizontal

- Spiral

- Planetary

Aside from mixing dough, what are its specific functions that set them apart from one another?

 

Thanks.

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

I do not have experience with all three mixer types but I am hoping that by bumping this thread up someone who has used all three will add their opinion.

Jeff

charliez's picture
charliez

+1, Yes, this would be really interesting to learn!! 

ananda's picture
ananda

Hello Bhoodies_B,

Horizontal mixers are probably most commonly used in large bread factories in a "continous dough process".   So materials in one end, finished dough emerges at the other ready for next process stage.

I have used a horizontal "Z" blade mixer which is most commonly used for biscuit doughs.   The purpose here is to use a relatively intensive and heat inducing process.   This is to deliberately shatter the protein structure and thus create shortness in the biscuit.

Spiral mixers are specialist bread dough mixers popular in many different kinds of bakeries.   They feature a rotating bowl with a spiral shaped blade which is very efficient at pulling all the dough back onto the attachment for efficient mixing.   There are small spiral mixers, often used for small-scale pizza manufacture.   They tend to be single direction and single speed, but they run on single phase electric, so will plug into ordinary mains.   The bigger machines run of 3-phase, and the better machines have 2 speeds and a rotating bowl, so you can run it either clockwise, or anti-clockwise, which is much better for effective mixing of larger doughs.   The very largest machines have detachable bowls as well.   They are generally great machines because they mix the dough so well; the friction factor is quite low, there is no excessive oxidation and the dough usually develops rapidly and gently, considering the intensity of the spiral attachment.

Planetary mixers are the upright mixers which most people will be familiar with, as the home machines are a variation of these.   The best ones are made by Hobart, and they have been around for donkeys years.   The attachment fits on a rotating shaft coming vertically down from the top of the machine into a bowl sitting on the front.   The great thing about these machines is that they are genuinely multi-purpose.   A paddle beater allows for crumbing for biscuit, pastry and scones..and making rye sourdough, and for sugar and flour batter cake mixing.   A whisk is also supplied for whisked sponges, and a hook is used for doughs.   The old hook is a "D" shape, and there is a more modern and effective spiral shaped hook which stops the dough riding up the hook onto the shaft.   They are good all-round, but if you want just a dough mixer, then buy a spiral mixer.

Interesting that you don't mention my favourite mixer which is the Artofex.   this mimics hand action, pluging in and out of the dough.   It mixes slowly and gently, with dough development often taking nearly half an hour; fantastic machine, currently enjoying a comeback in the UK, thanks, I believe to Mono starting to make new models again.   Good on them!

Best wishes

Andy

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Hi Andy.

I see we think alike. I think the "twin arm mixer" as I call it, is the best type of mixer available. I love to watch them work! My enthusiasm for them allowed me to persuade a bakery manager to purchase one last year.

Do you know the history of this type of mixer? I'm really very interested given the picture below.

Melegatti producing pandoro back in the early 1900's.
 
Belt driven too!

Michael 

Annod's picture
Annod

Andy

I am new to bread making; completely green.

Can you tell me or send me an existing link which answers the following question, please:

Is there a generally accepted, bread dough mixer which can handle most kinds of bread dough mixing/kneading? 

My question is likely too broad; what data do you need from me to help me, please?

Regards

Donna

 

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Donna,

The most readily and commonly available mixers are planetary type like the Hobart mixers.  This is a multi purpose mixer that comes in sizes from 5 quart to 140 quart.  These are fairly easy to find, new or used, and can be fixed when repairs might be needed.  I would guess that this is the type of mixer you will want but I can not say that definitively without knowing what it is you want to mix and in what quantities.

Jeff

Annod's picture
Annod

Thank you, Jeff.  That's what I had gleaned.

The quantities will be domestic. 

Can you (or Andy if you're around) tell me any more about the manufacturer, Artofex?  Why do you prefer this, Andy?

Thanks.

Donna

 

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Donna,

As you will see from the link here:

http://www.euromixltd.com/proddetail.asp?start=1&bakery=1&textpage=&mainpage=&id=6546

the smallest of these machines mixes 80kg of dough, with the largest one having a capacity of 300kg of dough!

I like these machines because they are very gentle, but also effective at mixing high quality dough.   The action replicates hand-mixing and slow mixing means the dough is not subject to excess oxidation.   A long mixing time is used, which industrial manufacturers reject as inefficient, but those seeking high quality dough will prefer for quality reasons over time factors.

I don't really need to add to what Jeff wrote about in answer to your first post.

Best wishes

Andy

Annod's picture
Annod

Thank you both.

Kind regards

Donna

Annod's picture
Annod

Jeff and Andy

Some questions for each of you, please:

First, we're talking about the Hobart N50 and the Legacy.  I am considering buying one or t'other and need to understand real differences aside from price (Legacy is twice the price).

1.  Remembering I'm new to baking, I want to ask you a basic question: how important is the machine in the grand scheme of things?  In other words,  does the machine make a real difference to the end result?  Will a quality machine reduce or remove some of the risk of failed bread dough?  Why? 

2.  The Legacy is a planetary mixer.  You had recommended a planetary mixer in your response to my previous question.  Why, and if I chose the N50, what challenges might you anticipate?

I'm clear that making bread is a craft and the machine is only part of the process, but given the investment, I want to make sure I get the best start possible and get it right first time.

I appreciate any advice you're willing to give.

Kind regards

Donna

(Addendum: sorry Andy, I've been reading so many posts.  I was wrong, you had not recommended a planetary, but provided a description.  You seem to recommend the spiral).  

 

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Donna,

The advice I can offer has to be understood in the context that I live in the UK.   I take it that you are US-based?

Remember also that I bake professionally, so the mixer I own is of commercial specification.   I suspect you are looking at 5 quart machine, where mine is 20 quart.   My machine weighs in excess of 100kg, which is 224lbs in "oldmoney"!   It was built in London, in 1957.   I believe all the original Hobart machines were built in London.   So it is probably not appropriate to compare my mixer with the machines offered new for use in the home.

Before I decided to start baking serious quantities at home just a few months ago, I didn't own a mixer.   I have a hand held mixer which I use for small confectionery mixes such as biscuits and cakes.   Everything else, I made by hand.   This is my personal opinion, and one that may well not be shared by others, but I haven't found a mixing machine aimed at the home market which I was remotely interested in buying....except the Assistent, which is very difficult to obtain in the UK, and costs an awful lot of money.

So when I needed to buy a machine, I automatically went for an old model, because the commercial specification is way superior to the new gadgets aimed at the home market.   I paid £300, plus £93 for carriage, and I consider that a bargain.

Remember you have asked questions on a thread that primarily addresses commercial machines, and I tend to try and keep my comments on threads relevant to the original questions aked.   However, my honest answer is that I really cannot recommend a particular machine for you.   If it were for me, I'd be mixing by hand and saving my pennies for other equipment such as bannetons, blades, couche, or even a prover, or oven..and most essentially of all some digital scales and a digital thermometer.   All of these are essential pieces of kit in the longer run.   Your hands will always make good dough once practiced!

Very best wishes

Andy

Annod's picture
Annod

Thank you both very much.  Outstanding responses and valuable advice which I can use. 

Kind regards

Donna

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Hi Donna,

If it were me and I were brand new to bread baking, I would not buy any mixer at all unless physical limitations or special needs forced the issue.

The N-50 is a 5 quart capacity work horse of commercial quality and durability.  You could put it in your kitchen without it being overly intrusive and use it not only to mix and knead bread dough but also for a variety of mixing and whisking tasks, not to mention the vast array of attachments available also.  This mixer should easily live longer than you do in the home application.  The capacity means that you could mix/knead up to a few loaves at a time and not much more.  This may be perfect for domestic applications. 

The Legacy is a larger more commercial mixer and depending upon its size (there are many) used in places like small bakeries up to large operations using very large mixers.  There is a 12 quart Legacy that would work in the home but for many this mixer would be over bearing in size and appearance sitting in the home kitchen.  This mixer would more than double the capacity of the N-50 (which comes only as a 5 quart mixer) but it could be way more than you need or want as it weighs close to 200 pounds and cannot easily be moved about.  I would most definitely not buy a Legacy mixer before actually seeing one.

Either mixer would prove to be a well built nearly indestructable machine in the home kitchen but again, at this stage I would not buy any mixer at all.

My advice is to first learn to make bread and after doing that repeatedly over a good deal of time then see if you want a mixer and what sort of capabilities and capacity might work for you.

Machines alter the quality of bread dough but it is the operator who influences whether that change is positive or negative.  In the grand scheme of things, you could go a lifetime and never use a mixer in the home application.  There are even some smaller bakeries that do not use mixers.

Jeff

NeilB's picture
NeilB

I know this is 2 years ago but what donna should have been told and now I'm hoping that this might be helpful to someone else is, The Hobart N50 is not recommended for stiff dough at all! It will do 1.8 kg of bread dough but only 900g of Pizza dough. You really should  go for 10 or 20 qt machines. 

 

Bhoodies_B's picture
Bhoodies_B

Hello Andy,

 

Thank you very much for your input, that was very informational.

 

Best regards,

 

Bhoodies_B

ananda's picture
ananda

Hello Michael,

I'm not really up on Artofex history, but this is the Co. website:

http://www.euromixltd.com/index.asp?bakery=1&textpage=bakerytype&mainpage=bakerytype

They are now known as Euromix.

Best wishes

Andy

clearlyanidiot's picture
clearlyanidiot

I've been thinking about mixers a lot in the last little bit and should probably draw some lines. 

First, most mixers probably fit in the category of "good enough" If it can mix any volume of dough without releasing the magic blue smoke that mixers actually run on*

Better mixers can handle more dough, last longer, don't overheat regularly, etc. 

The best mixer will vary, depending on who you ask. Some will say a Hobart planetary, others a spiral mixer, fewer still will answer a coveted Artofex mixer, or a Diosna diving arm (In a kitchen size) Each of these mixers has it's own set of advantages and disadvantages; There is no true one size fits all, so it partially falls on what the baker wants to do. 

This is just speculation, but I think that Planetary, and Spiral mixers are better suited to stiff doughs with high gluten flour just the design and layout of components. Diving arm/Artofex/Hubkneters seem better suited to folding gently bringing together high hydration doughs with lower gluten European flours. 

This isn't to say that each of the mixers can't do the work of any other design, just that each has it's own strength and weakness. 

A Planetary mixer might need a baker to start with colder water, when using lower gluten flour, to compensate for extra heat generated while mixing. 

A Hubkneter (Single diving arm mixer) Might only be able to mix 3/4 of a batch of stiff/high gluten dough, due to extra loading on the arm. Etc.

 

We tend to treat kneading as a monolithic task, but in reality it's as diverse as the breads made. 

 

*It's a little known fact that electric motors don't actually run on electricity, they run on magic blue smoke. When they release this magic blue smoke, they don't work after that. An electrician friend taught me this. 

Antilope's picture
Antilope

I usually only mix about 1 lb (400g to 500g) of dry flour at a time. I find myself using the bread machine DOUGH cycle more than the Kitchenaid mixer in breadmaking. The finished dough from the bread machine (Zo Virtuoso) seems to be smoother and more thoroughly kneaded. Also less mess (flour and ingredients slung around the kitchen) and cleanup on the bread machine.

If you are usually making smaller batches, any brand bread machine with a separate DOUGH cycle is something to consider.