The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Looking for a Mixer

Jeramiah's picture
Jeramiah

Looking for a Mixer

I have been mixing dough by hand and would like to buy a mixer. I don't want to spend a ton of money because I just don't have it. Can anyone suggest a good mixer?

Thanks

David R's picture
David R

There are way too many mixers that are expensive and not good!

Sure you can get an excellent mixer for a ton of money, if you know what to look for. But it's truly sad how much money can be wasted on sub-standard poorly-performing mixers.

Nearly all modern mixers have lots of power. It's good design vs bad design that really counts. Please please completely ignore the power ratings of mixers until you've made your final choice. After you've made your final choice based on design, THEN look at watts or horsepower or whatever. (If you put a rocket engine into a truck that has a bad gearbox, it's going to drive just as badly as before.)

This is a tricky question, because dough mixing is one of the jobs that can easily ruin poorly-designed mixers. Just for example, let's say you spent $40 on a not-very-good mixer, and the third time you used the thing, it broke. That's not saving money - that's completely wasting $40.

But it's still true that you can easily spend far too much on a mixer. If you're not baking for money, and not already well-off, then the expensive machines are crazy.

So now what?

You have some requirements:

  1. If a certain machine is not actually better and easier than working by hand, there's no point in buying it. Spending even one dollar on a machine that doesn't do what you got it for, is a waste. For example, a mixer that's always getting stuck and forcing you to fix the problem by hand - that might be worse than nothing at all.
  2. You need to be easily able to afford it. Unless baking is your business, it's hard to justify major expense for a mixer. (If baking IS your business, then it might make more sense to endure temporary sacrifices that allow you to greatly increase how much work you can get done.)
  3. You need to study what's available and see if this can work. If you initially budget a certain amount and then discover that there's nothing good enough available for that price, then either you reluctantly increase your budget, or you put the whole thing off.
Jeramiah's picture
Jeramiah

Thank you for your response.

jeffheffner's picture
jeffheffner

i know your situation, but what I did, is, I saved until I had enough for what I wanted. A family member gifted me a brand new KitchenAid, and it worked ok but now as I am more seriously interested in breads, it is making some strange noise and over heats quickly. I went and saved and bought an Ankarsrum, and I do not regret that decision in the least. I had researched many machines, and the Ank assistant was the best option without going to a professional machine. So, go to the Ankarsrum web page and look at the refurbished machines, I got one that was basically brand new, but still with a 7 year warranty. I cannot in good faith recommend KA any more as they seem cheaper made. 

The Ankarsrum brand new is about $700.00 the same as KA, so look for a refurbished Ankarsrum 

Jeramiah's picture
Jeramiah

Thank you. This was very helpful. I will head on over there to take a peek.

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Jeremiah,  if you are willing to buy used,  you can often find an older Ankarsrum on ebay for around $300.  That is where I got mine, and it is built like a tank and will surely outlast me.  If you decide to go that route, you need to search for a number of different names -  it has always been made by the same company, but it was marketed in the US under a number of different names, such as Magic Mill Assistent  ( yes it is supposed to be an e in the spelling of Assistent ),  Electrolux DLX, etc.    I prefer the rounded face models, they are newer than the square face models which are often labeled as Model DLX 9000 .  

David R's picture
David R

I have heard people say they dislike the Ankarsrum mixer because it's weird and doesn't look like others.

I find it interesting that not one of them was able to credibly claim that it did a poor job or didn't work - only that it looked odd to them.

Jeramiah's picture
Jeramiah

Watching some videos on it, it is weird but I kind of like the concept of the mixer. I would assume you can fit a better motor or gears in the base of the machine versus a smaller head of a “normal” mixer. 

David R's picture
David R

I'm not sure - you can make a big powerful overhead motor too. But the motor size isn't really an issue - you only need enough power to easily do the job, and all the halfway decent available mixers have a far more powerful motor than they really need. The issue is how well the designer gets that power into your dough - in automotive terms it's the drivetrain, rather than the engine, that will usually be the downfall of modern mixers. (Has electric motor technology improved a lot? I don't know, but the watts are sky-high so I guess it has.)

jeffheffner's picture
jeffheffner

i am a new owner of an Ank. I purchased it as refurbished, off their website. Having been in the restaurant industry for 30 + years now, I wish I knew about this machine years ago. The thought that went into this is genius! The mechanics of the dough hook makes bread making a whole new thing for me. It twists and turns the dough like a professional bakery machine. For home use it is amazing, as well as being able to out do the KA style mixer. As a pastry chef, I say buy it and put KA out of biz.

Jeramiah's picture
Jeramiah

I am a fan of the design and functionality of the machine and I have only just seen images and videos yesterday. I am sold on the idea of a superior design.

Jeramiah's picture
Jeramiah

That's how I envision it as a drivetrain type system on the traditional mixers. I don't honestly know though. I picture the motor in the back of the arm with a drivetrain out to the front to power the mixers and things. Versus the Ankarsrum being right underneath the bowl giving all of the attention right to the action. More strain on the drive train on the traditional heating up the motor quicker.

But as I said I have no idea what I am even talking about. You are correct about the designers getting the power into the dough.

David R's picture
David R

I'm pretty sure Ankarsrum is a belt-drive, not direct drive - but I could easily be wrong.

In any case, an overhead motor with a geared transmission can work spectacularly well when it's done right - there's ample proof of that in the history of 20th-century mixers. But there has been an intentional and systematic push from the bean-counters at nearly every manufacturing company - "We must go as cheap as we can, so that each machine we build is a hair's breadth from failure at all times. Some of our machines must fail in normal use, and if they don't, then we're not being cheap enough yet. Keep cutting corners until there are no corners left at all." (They might not use those exact words - I'm not sure why. 🙂)

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Jeremiah,  you are right that the KA has an electric motor that runs from front to back in the top of the arm, with gears in the very front to convert the rotation from horizontal to vertical.  The Ank has a motor located in the base that rotates in a vertical plane, and a drive belt that transmits power to the drive shaft below the bowl.  What makes the Ank so different, is the bowl is rotating, not the head, and the roller basically squeezes the dough flat on each rotation, and the scraper scoops it back together.   It is very similar hand kneading where you press out the dough, then fold it over, turn it, then press it out again.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9avZp3xFNU  Start at around 1 minute and you will see how he does it.  

Bealtaine's picture
Bealtaine

I am new here and am based in Ireland. Here everyone i know who bakes bread uses Kenwood machines. The older ones are fantastic. Made in England with all metal gears. The newer models are made in china and while still better than kitchenaid arent a patch on the old ones. You can pick an old model on ebay for less than 50 dollars. Dough hooks come as standard. To make it even better you can get a flour sifter attachment (again about 20 secondhand on eBay) and Messerschmidt in Germany make stone mill attachment to fit them which are about $120 new. (I've never seen a second hand one). Kenwood make their own steel grain mill too. I have an all in one bakery with my Kenwood. To make it all the better they also have potato peeler attachment which works like a dream, ice cream maker, mincer etc etc. Its the only machine you will ever need. I do not work for Kenwood or have any connection with the company whatsoever. I just love my machine. Check them out before you buy.  Consider getting an old Major. 

Bealtaine's picture
Bealtaine

https://youtu.be/qPqAPZdU3d0. That's a video of someone making pizza dough in a Kenwood Major. Note the old ones do the same job but have an aluminium dough hook that doesn't go in the dishwasher. I recently bought a second hand kmp771 which is a new all metal professional model for bakeries (looks almost identical to the one in the video) but it has stainless steel dough hooks and tools and thank god they do go in the dishwasher. Enjoy your search. So much fun buying a new toy!!

Bealtaine's picture
Bealtaine

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Kenwood-Major-A717C-Food-Preparation-Machine-Mixer/293003395233?hash=item44385d00a1:g:OJkAAOSwzExcU3Ud.       

All you'd have to do is get a compatible dough hook. Check out eBay.co.UK.  they have lots for sale there and most ppl will mail worldwide. But the part that fixes to the machine could be swapped from the whisk onto a non compatible dough hook by opening a screw at the top. Probably be cheaper to do that than search for a perfect match. That model is an odd number I've never heard of before. But the parts always come up on ebay because almost everyhousehold here has one. That machine will outlive you if you get it serviced. 

albacore's picture
albacore

A good price, but bear in mind that the front power outlet on the A7xx series mixers only takes attachments specific to that series, which can be hard to find.

Kenwood changed the fitting when they brought out the A9xx series and that fitting is standard on all subsequent Kenwoods up to the present day (though it's just being replaced now).

However if you are only ever going to use the dough hook, K beater and balloon whisk it might be OK for you.

Lance (happy owner of a Kenwood PM900 - amongst others!).