The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Stand Mixer for light work

dave1355's picture

Stand Mixer for light work

I am looking to buy a stand mixer.  I make bread about three times a week, usually only one loaf at a time.  On rare occasions I do need to make two. 

I have seen lots of recommendations in older postings about stand mixers, but they usually seem to deal with large amounts of flour.  I only need 3-6 cups for the regular batch I make.  The typical loaf I make has two cups white flour and one cup whole wheat.  I also make 'fancier' bread from "The Bread Bakers Apprentice" but the bulk of my baking is everyday sandwich bread for the kids.  Does anyone know a stand mixer that might be suited for this smaller capacity use? 

I look forward to any tips or advice.



mkelly27's picture

For what you are looking to do, the cheapest, best, choice is the Kitchen Aid Artisan Mixer, for another coupla' bucks you can buy into the 600 series, my advice is buy as much mixer as you can afford, just do your homework.  My sis-in-law works for America's Test Kitchen and their website is invaluable for kitchen machine reviews.  Google "Americas Test Kitchen" for their site.


Two wrongs don't make a right. Three lefts make a right

JIP's picture

I agree I have the KA artisianal and it is great for small batches.  One problem is you really cannot go over the capacity.  I personally wish I had the 600 series but the Artisianal was given to me as a gift so I really did not have a choice.  I can make almost everything I want but it reallt strains with heavier doughs and I have had to stop making a really nice country loaf from the Cook's Illustrated baking book that I liked alot because it was too heavy for the Artisinal.   If you can afford the upgrade and you have room for it I would definately get the 600 instead as far as I know the going rate right now for the 600 is $399.



subfuscpersona's picture

Only if you're a risk taker, you can buy older Hobart-made Kitchenaid mixers at times on eBay. The Hobart made Kitchenaids are generally much better made than the current Whirlpool made Kitchenaids. (If you want to buy a Whirlpool made Kitchenaid, I would personally not use eBay)

Price should be lower than an equivalent new Kitchenaid. The risk, of course, is that you have no guarantee to fall back on. If it needs repair, it must be done at an authorized Kitchenaid repair center and this can be costly.

I have 2 Hobart made Kitchenaids; model K5A and K5SS. Both are 5 quart stand models and would be good workhorses for up to about 4 to 5 pounds of dough per batch. I can attest to their quality but neither were purchased from eBay (though both were purchased used).

My model K5A was purchased used in the late 70s from a local bakery that went out of business. After 25 years of use, primarily for bread doughs and milling grain, it required repair. When I took the K5A to an authorized Kitchenaid service center, the store owner wanted to buy it, broken. He said he continually gets requests for this model Hobart/Kitchenaid from local bakeries and restaurants (I had it repaired for $150).

sphealey's picture

Hobart makes the N50 countertop mixer, which seems like a slightly more industrial version of these fabled KitchenAids of yore. It even comes in 6 colors.

Of course, average price on the discount resturant supply stores I checked was $2,200 US...


pjkobulnicky's picture

 I have a KA 600 and I love it for bread but I make big batches.  For all other stand mixer purposes, it is not as good as a smaller KA (and I do agree about Hobart KA's being better). It is noisy and if you want, for example, to whip a pint of cream into whipped cream, the cream gets lost in the big bowl of the 600. Also, did I say that the 600 is NOISY ! It is so NOISY that my wife leaves the room when it is running and I bet it would require hearing protection in a OSHA setting.

 I'd get a 5 qt KA.


Paul Kobulnicky

Baking in Ohio

ehanner's picture

Dave 1355,

Not withstanding the rare occasions one needs a counter top mixer, I suggest  that you invest a whopping $10.95 (plus a few bucks shipping) in a dough whisk. It doesn't have a motor to over heat or a max capacity. I know plenty of Artisan bakers who don't ever use a mixer for any home baking formulas. Honestly you will get a better feel for the dough and learn to understand what people are referring to when they discuss "gluten development". It doesn't take any more time to mix by hand and it's much easier to clean up afterwards. Unless you don't have two hands, you will be much better off learning the manual method. I do own a mixer and the last time I used it was to mix a 20 loaf batch of poolish for a big bake. I cussed myself later for using the mixer as it was totally unnecessary. All of the final dough was easily put together using one of these.

If you take the time to look at this video of a guy putting together a batch with a whisk, you will see and understand how simple it is. Save the money and buy yourself a toy you need. This is the tool that King Arthur uses in every single baking class they teach.

KA dough WhiskKA dough Whisk


bluezebra's picture

We had been researching stand mixers and my hubby found the refurbished ones 6qt KA for $239 online. It sounded like a bargain. Then I had the biggest breakthrough I've ever had when I found Mike Avery's demo video of the French Fold (stretch and fold) technique. He has since told me in emails that there is no dough that you would make that couldn't be made with this technique.

Now I'm such a newbie (about a 10week career in bread building) that I took his advice as gold and I must say that since I began building breads by hand using his method, I have been producing really decent bread and also, I'm now learning what Eric mentions...I'm learning what gluten development looks like and more what dough FEELS like as it develops at each stage, how to get more gluten development, what's happening with the dough, etc. It's awesome! I feel like I'm actually gainging momentum.

I don't think I would be feeling that if I was using a power mixer. I do have an old one that belonged to my husband's mom but it doesn't have dough hooks and it works great for cookies and cakes. So I will stick to using it for those purposes and let my hands do the work! It takes all of about 2-5 minutes tops (depending on how slow you are...) every hour for 3-4 cycles. Easy peasy!

We've now basically put the need for a new stand mixer at the bottom of our needs and wants's WAY down there!

Wayne's picture

I totally agree with ehanner about the KA dough whisk.  I purchased one a year or so ago and have not used my Kitchen Aid since for mixing dough.  The french fold method is easy to learn and just as fast.  If you do want a mixer for general use and single batch (ie: 3lbs.) bread dough, the KA 5 quart mixer is very good.  Have had mine for over 20 years now.  Also have a Bosch mixer that is equally good at mixing dough up to 5 lbs.

dave1355's picture

Thanks for all the tips and advice, I appreciate everyone's input. 

I ended up finding a great deal on a 6 qt Kitchenaid... I ended up going big after all!  I had my eye on the Artesian model, but Amazon had the 6 qt version for less than the Artesian, so I got myslef an early Fathers Day gift.

I won't quit making bread by hand, but after so many batches of sandwich bread this year, I'm ready for a change.  I do like making the "no knead" bread, but that isn't what the kids like for their PB&J for lunchs.

Thanks again for all your helpful comments!