The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How fast is slow?

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CottageCrafts's picture
CottageCrafts

How fast is slow?

Sorry if that's a stupid question but most recipes say "Mix x minutes onslow and then y minutes at medium" etc. What I wonder is is this a defined measurement? How fast is slow? or medium? What if I only have two speeds? And does it matter?

Cheers

 

Peter

 

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Generally mixers producers recommend to use low speeds for mixing (2 out of six), but as many of us have verified it's a nonsense advice. I always mix at speed 3, even 4 when the dough doesn't want to come together paying attention not to overheat the dough.

Actually since I mix at higher speed I've learned how a dough can come together much better that I ever thought possible, I even learned how a dough can pass the windowpane test.

CottageCrafts's picture
CottageCrafts

Thank you for your answer. It is not the mixer manufacturers, it is people like Peter Reinhart and all the other bakers. Basically all books I have who are not only (sometimes religiously)  promting hand kneading refer to low and medium/high speed. Even you in your reply say "on 3 or 4". Is this some sort of secret unit? How fast is 3 or 4? If Imix on slow and someone elses mixer defines the same seed as medium?

Cheers

Peter

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

I can count the rounds per minutes at those speeds, but that measure applies only to an empty bowl or to a dough that still hasn't developed enough (when it begins to come together the rounds per minute will decrease).

I don't know if mixers producers have agreed on how many rpm each speed tick should amount to.

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Peter, most mixers have a variety of speeds - somewhere between 3 and 10.  Most mixers are designed to do a number of jobs from whipping egg whtes, to mixing cookie dough or sometimes kneading bread flour.  If you have a mixer with 3 speeds -  1 is slow, 2 is medium, and 3 is fast.   If you have 5 speeds -  3 would be medium, and so on.  To whip up egg whites, or other light ingredients, you usually use the higher speeds, for kneading dough, you normally are at the mid to low end.  

CottageCrafts's picture
CottageCrafts

I guess I wasn't very clear with what Iwant to know. I know all the above, but thank you for taking the time to reply. I best give an example. 

I have a kitchenmixer for small batches. On slow it probably does 30 rpm I'd say. I also have a commercial bakery mixer, which on slow does closer to 60 rpm. So if a recipe says "Mix for 5 minutes on slow" then this would mean 30 rpm with my kitchenmachine and double the speed, 60 rpm with my dough mixer. So shouldn't the recipe rather say "Mix on 60 rpm for 5 minutes"? Then I could set my kitchen machine to medium (60 rpm) and if I use the dough mixer I would set it at 1. To me it would be the same as if a recipe would say "Rest the dough for a short time". I just wonder why recipes are very precise in some areas but almost all of them are quite fuzzy when it comes to mixer speeds. But if it doesn't matter then why bother at all with mixer speeds. 

Or am I just picky? 

I hope this makes it clearer.

Cheers

Peter

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Hi Peter.  

Jeffrey Hamelman discusses mixing guidelines in his book Bread (p 11), noting that mixing times can't be generalized because there are so many factors that affect them.   Including mixer styles and the differences in mixing arms.   

Mixing to moderate gluten development is generally preferred.   Further strength can be developed through folding during the bulk.  He notes moderate gluten development can be accomplished in most cases by mixing to 900 to 1000 revolutions (excluding doughs high in rye and doughs like brioche).    There's a table included which shows, for example, that a planetary mixer will take longer to achieve those revolutions than a spiral mixer.   Even longer for a stand mixer, such as a KitchenAid.  While the formulas in his book are specific to a spiral mixer, I found the table quite helpful in getting a general idea of how long it would take to get to moderate gluten development with my own stand mixer.  

Knowing the RPMs of your mixer is important.  But I think it's more important to feel the dough and even pull a windowpane to check gluten development.  Kind of fits into the adage to watch the dough, not the clock.

CottageCrafts's picture
CottageCrafts

Thank you LindyD. This is one book I don't have (yet!). I will see if I canget it. 

Cheers

Peter