The Fresh Loaf

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Food processors for dough kneading - a question about brands/blade mechanisms

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StaffoflifeMtl's picture

Food processors for dough kneading - a question about brands/blade mechanisms

So after learning to knead by hand, to avoid too much RSI, I learned to use a food processor for most of the work. I check gluten development etc. on a marble board prior to going to bulk rise.

I was lucky in that I happened across a Braun CombiMax 600, and per Beranbaum and Bittman's books, use the regular blade to quickly knead by cutting, with all the usual caveats about temperature, etc.   The beauty of the Braun is that the blade is locked down onto the spindle by the cover, and it has 15 speeds, which means you can always put it at the optimum one for doughs, something most food processors are sadly lacking.

Now I'm trying to figure out what food processor to buy my friend in California when I'm visiting.  Sadly, Braun has stopped making kitchen appliances, and while there are a few left for sale in the U.S., it's without service other than replacement.  And from what I've read and seen in the stores,  build quality has dropped dramatically in the past couple of years, with each new model rollout. Fancy digital on the outside, and two-year innards, if you're lucky.

I was thinking of going with the Cuisinart DLC-2009CHB Prep 9 9-Cup Food Processor oops - Cuisinart DLC-2011N Prep Plus 11-Cup Food Processor, (since it's for making bread when I visit, and he'll occassionally use it for food prep otherwise, and I don't want to go spending $250 up on something like their premium line, for something that'll only be used occasionally). This one is the lowest-cost model with a dough button that slows down the speed a bit (I run my CombiMax at 6 out of 15 for dough), but I noticed that all the Cuisinart and KitchenAid brands seem to have blades that press-fit onto the spindle, and the spindle does *not* extend up to the cover.  Cuisinart even mentions about "blade lift" in the troubleshooting section.  I never have that problem in the Braun because as long as the cover's on, the blade *cannot* rise up, even if the dough is pressing from below.

I'd like to hear from Cuisinart users about how prevalent this is when you make dough in it.  I'm typically doing anywhere from 25% to 75% whole wheat artisan style yeast doughs, and I aim for hydration levels that allow for hand-kneading right out of the processor, so the dough's not too wet.

I was thinking of going with the top line Hamilton Beach, as it seems to have the locking spindle I want, but HB looks really cheap economical, from what I've seen in the stores.  I'm sure the motor will go first, but even the plastic bowl looks like a mass of dough will crack it.

While the Breville seems to be the platinum machine, it's way out of my price range.



proth5's picture

I used my Cuisinart for kneading bread and pasta dough (still use it for pasta dough sometimes, now that I think about it).  I loaded it according to directions and never really taxed it too much and I don't recall having much problem with "blade lift."  I have a vague memory of it happening once and the alert user can simply stop the machine - clear the offending dough and carry on.

Hope this helps.

fminparis's picture

I've been baking breads for over 20 years and only use my Cuisinart (14 cup) with the steel blade for kneading.  I never have had "blade lift."  I did tests with temperatures of dough rising due to the kneading and, as I wrote in a previous article, the results were at most about 10 degrees, so if you start with water at 100 degrees or less there's no problem. I use 90 degree water. I have never found any downside to using the Cuisinart to knead, only benefits.