The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Mixer Guidance for a large family

Peter_pan's picture
Peter_pan

Mixer Guidance for a large family

Hello FreshLoafers! 

I need some help. About 14 years ago, I purchased a kitchen aid artisan mixer when I was newly married. My wife (who had never seriously baked) thought I was crazy and said we would never use it. Now, 14 years later, this machine is like an old veteran and has been through many battles - including but not limited to: walking & falling off the counter, losing the ability to stay locked down so we jerryrigged the locking mechanism with hair ties, and for several years we've just held the machine down while mixing. With that said, the machine still works. All in all, I've gotta say, we have gotten our roughly $250 (or whatever we paid) worth of money out of it. 

The problem now is that my family has grown quite a bit since our first days. My family count is now in the double digits. My wife cooks and bakes, but I'm the one who really loves to bake: pizza, bread, rolls, biscuits, artisan loaves, pretzels...oh man. I look forward to baking with my kids on the weekend. I grind my own wheat and most of my stuff is 100% wheat flour.

My wife and I are looking for a replacement mixer to fit our family. I'm struggling to figure out what to buy. The KA has been a workhorse and I'm tempted to just get another. They still sell for $250. If I got another 15ish years out of it, I'd be pretty happy. With that being said, the size of the KA mixer has been limiting. I end up making multiple batches. I see the Ankarsrum - and it looks tempting but for $700, I could get 3 KA mixers. With that said, since I love to bake and so do my kids, I'm willing to invest up to $1000, but at the upper end of the budget, the machine would have to do a lot like: greet me in the morning and personally make me pancakes. 

We've used the KA for many things baking related, but my wife has also used it for things like making pulled pork. (Put the cooked meat in the bowl and turn on the mixer ... boom - pork is all separated!) I want something which can handle the full array of cooking we need to do.

I want a mixer which will last me another 10-15 years of fairly frequent use for my large family. Do you have any recommendations? I appreciate your time and opinions.

Regards,
-Peter

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Peter, the short answer is Ank,  it will last for another 15 years and will handle dough mixing for a large family. For dough mixing, most here post positive reviews of the Ank as well as the Bosch Universal Plus.  Some feel that the Ank is  primarily designed for dough, and is not as good at some other tasks as other mixers, other users report they use the Ank for everything and it is fine. Some like the Bosch bowl, I was not a big fan, but that is more of a personal opinion.  

In my opinion, the price tag of the Ank is quite high new, though I did check on Amazon, and the price range on the bowl lift KA models went from $300 to $600 or higher.  If you decide to go the KA, do a search here since there are some model recommended more highly than others.  I went a different route and bought a used Ank - which you can normally find for around $300.  It is extremely well designed, and I think will easily last another 15 years.  The Ank won't make pancakes for you -  it has trouble judging when to flip the pancake to the other side, but I , and many others, find it is just a pleasure to use.   One very nice feature, which I have not seen on many others, is that if you want to mix the dough and water before an autolyse, you can set it to mix for a few minutes, and it will turn itself off. When autolyse is done, if you want it to knead for a set number of minutes, you can set that as well, then come back and check to see if it has reached the right consistency.  I find I do that all the time.  The bowl size on the Ank is quite large, I doubt you will be doing multiple batches, unless your dough size is very large.    

BTW,  your reports on the KA Aritsan are pretty common.  Americas Test Kitchen did a test on mixers a few years back ( though they didn't test the Ank, and some thought their review of the Bosch was not fair ).  On the test model, the lock that kept the head down broke during testing, and  they chalked it up to a less than heavy duty design.  They did like the lift bowl model, and some here report that they like the high end KA .

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Peter, Barry is an excellent source for most appliances dealing with baking. I agree with him wholeheartedly. I also own an Ankarsrum for years and am extremely satisfied.

Another Kitchenaid? For me - no way. I'm surprised you got 15 years from a relatively late model KA. I say this because you are using fresh milled whole wheat. The mixer is known to handle white flour if kneaded on the correct speed and not used for super large batches, but whole wheat is rough on it. I know from experience. 2 KitchenAids ago and stripped gears at 3 or 4 times. I got to the point that I kept an extra set of gears on hand to avoid delays when they failed the next time. By the way - my latest KA is a high end model. It is sitting in a cabinet with stripped gears right now. Keep in mind, the mixers I use are called upon to do a lot of work.

Copy and paste the text below into your web browser to get a better consensus.

site:thefreshloaf.com kitchenaid

site:thefreshloaf.com ankarsrum

With that said, if I had the room and wanted to spend the money, there is no question that this mixer would be sitting on my counter. Too bad it weighs 77 lbs. and won’t fit under the cabinets.
https://pleasanthillgrain.com/famag-im8-spiral-dough-mixer-variable-speed

All things considered, Ankarsrum is a great choice for your family.  Since you bake a lot, your money will be well spent.

Danny

Peter, check this link out. I know nothing about it other that what is written. It may be a great deal.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/184138038251

clazar123's picture
clazar123

I have a 44 yr old KA mixer that I LOVE, BUT  if I had a family of that size, I would reconsider getting a larger mixer.

The 5 qt bowl/machine is great for mixing cakes/cookies, bread dough( up yo 6 cups of flour-carefully and not too stiff), using slicing,grinding attachments for meat/veggies for a family of 4-5. 

As a previous poster has said, you get the most bang for buck buying a used, high end machine. A used Anskarum may be the best choice here. The new KA machines (even the Professional series) don't seem to get the same high ratings here on TFL. The older Hobart vintage machines do well but are more expensive and less available.

Craigslist, The Fresh Loaf, local thrift stores and estate sales may be your friend for finding what you want but is very hot or miss. Good luck!

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Peter, you mention a large family. Here is a video mixing 11 pounds of Whole Wheat dough in an Ank. These machines are beast!

By the way - I don’t sell them or have anything to do with the companies that sell them. I am simply an avid customer that loves his Ank...

Danny Ayo

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Peter the very old KitchenAids were indestructible and in super high demand. The new models are much more prone to be over worked.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

LDS?

--

Another way to calculate a budget, is figure what $250 in 2006 dollars equates to today.  Probably close to $700.

And, I suppose since you're going to have a handful of teenagers at once, your baking/cooking quantity and food bill is going to skyrocket, since teens eat twice as much as pre-teens.  So I also think the Ank will work for your family.

If you go to your Account page on this web site, click the "Track" tab, you can review the responses to your questions/posts from 5 years ago.  There were some great comments on how the manual techniques of old can replace a mixer for bread.  Not straight hand kneading, but letting _time_ develop the gluten with just a few quick and easy "stretch and folds".  That is what this web site is all about!  Hours of "bulk ferment", a final fold/shape, then a "proof".  Either or both can be done at room temp, or for longer in the fridge   (You have two fridges, right? ;-)

Also, for raising self-sufficient kids, doing bread DIY-style, by hand, is great training.  

here is my favorite K.I.S.S. style bread:

www.youtube.com/user/artisanbreadwithstev      Mix, no knead, Overnight rise, 1.5 hr proof in the morning, bake.  See his easy ideas/methods for no dutch oven.

 

pmccool's picture
pmccool

shop on eBay.  You'll find used items, open box items, refurbished items, and brand new items.  Models with 6 quart or 7 quart bowls range from less than $100 to more than $500, depending on condition and model.  

Your tolerance for risk will have to be somewhat higher than it would be for a new mixer from a local retailer.  However, some of the refurbished mixers can be purchased from KitchenAid's own eBay store.  They cost more than used machines do but less than new machines.  

Paul

Peter_pan's picture
Peter_pan

First, thank you all for your responses. Let me try to respond to each in turn: 

Barry, I agree with you, I'm strongly leaning towards the Ank. I will keep my eyes out for used ones because your feedback and recommendation.

DanAyo - I can't wait to show my wife your comment about the extra gears that you have on hand. You're certainly helping me build my case for a more heavy duty machine. The FAMAG looks incredible. Now, if I could only justify it... The 11lbs of wheat video was pretty amazing. Thank you!

clazar123 - Like what Barry said, I'm going to keep my eyes out for a used Ank (or possibly a FAMAG). I was digging through craigslist this morning looking for used mixers with no such luck. 

iDaveIndy - LDS?  No. I'm Catholic. :)
Bringing the finance into the equation. Ah ha! A man after my own heart. I'm a finance guy by trade and for fun I checked your calculation a little. From CPI, the $250 would be $318.67 https://www.in2013dollars.com/us/inflation/2006?amount=250
 Not quite enough for me to justifiably coerce my wife with that argument. :( Though, with that said, there are many ways to measure inflation. Another measure might be to measure dollars against something like gold. . . in which case $250 was about 40% of an ounce of gold ($635.70) in 2006 and today an ounce of gold is $1560, so 40% of that is $624. Now I've got a solid argument to show the wife! 

Ok, back to bread, as for my old post: it's funny you mentioned it, I actually found it right after I created this post this morning. It was surreal to re-read my comments/thoughts now almost 5 years later. I'm in basically the same spot as I was then, but now I have quite a few more kids than I did then. ha! 

I'm pretty convinced that the ANK is the way to go. Before I do, I'm going to try the trough method. I'm going to go out to Sam's club this weekend and buy one of these:https://www.samsclub.com/p/cambro-poly-food-box-storage-w-lid/prod22322142?xid=plp_product_1_10

I tried the method a few years ago, but the tub I used was aggravating. I'm going to try something a bit easier to maneuver and see how it goes. 

Finally, Paul, thank you for your suggestions to take a look at ebay. I'll keep this in mind. 

No solo de Pan vive el hombre

Thank you all again,
Peter Pan

Camarie's picture
Camarie

I have the Electrolux DLX-2000 mixer. Had it since '06. It still works very well

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Peter,  Camarie makes a good point ,  when I said used Ank,  I should have mentioned that the one I bought was sold under the name magic mill.  So if you are doing an ebay search,  use Magic Mill, Electrolux, DLX,  Verona,  Assistent  ( yes e not a in assistent ), AEG Assistent.   In terms of design, there were only a few changes over the years, the earliest models have a square front, and are often listed by model number - N24 ,  later models have a more rounded front - some came with plastic bowls and beaters and some did not, though you can still buy the plastic bowl and beaters from Pleasant Hill, and the newest model has an upgraded motor and a higher speed, though I have the Magic Mill 450 watts and find it has plenty of power.  There were also some changes in how the dough hook attached, though I never use mine.  When looking on ebay and deciding what to bid, check to see what is included - and then price on Pleasant hill anything you will need to add, like roller, scraper, etc., plastic bowl and bid accordingly.  

Peter_pan's picture
Peter_pan

A fella sent me a private message and offered to sell me his used ANK. We agreed to a acceptable price for the both of us. I can't wait to let you guys know how it turns out.