The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Mixers (Horizontal, Spiral & Planetary)

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 

Clayton123's picture
Clayton123

I see this was a few years ago but to clarify, very few large scale bakeries actually use a continuous mix dough system. Horizontal mixers are mostly used as batch mixers. Where you mix a dough, kick out into a dough pump, chunker, tro, and convey to divider. Then another batch is mixed and the same follows.

But I would agree, planetary are the best for general use. Just be careful if youre planning on mixing lots of bread doughs. They can and will burn out fast. Unless you get the hobarts, which are large machines but extremely durable and powerful.

I recently completed The American Institute of Bakings Baking Science and Technology residence course and we used these hobarts daily for hours at a time. Mixing a variety of doughs over the course of 5 months. Zero issues. They are fantastic pieces of equipment. But they are large to have in a home setting. And they are Expensive.

I should add that the Hobarts I used had modified bowls and agitators, they were 3 bars and the bowl had a flat bottom. This was to try and replicate the motion of a horizontal mixer, even though they were vertical.

anyways, good luck! 

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.