The Fresh Loaf

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Need help with small batches and stiff doughs in Electrolux DLX...

cloudcover's picture
cloudcover

Need help with small batches and stiff doughs in Electrolux DLX...

hi folks -

since i'm planning to bake all of our daily bread, i decided to splurge and get the electrolux dlx mixer.  but i'm running into problems.  i know that the dlx involves a learning curve and that there are many folks on this forum who use it, so i was hoping to get some help and advice.

one thing that i like to make regularly is a batch of dough for making indian flatbreads called rotis.  it's an extremely simple dough that uses only flour (a special type of wheat flour called "atta flour") and water.  my typical proportions are 750g of flour and 450g of water.  i tried making this in the dlx, using the suggestion of leaving the roller's knob loose, starting it halfway up the single line for a couple of minutes, then increasing the speed.  the dough came together but after increasing the speed the roller was really slamming hard against the rim after the dough passed by it, so i locked down the knob with the roller about 1/2 inch away.  the problem is that it seemed like the dough was passing by the roller without really much kneading going on...it seemed like the dough was pretty easily pushing the roller out towards the center of the bowl.

i also tried making one loaf of the "light wheat bread" recipe from peter reinhardt's "bread baker's apprentice."  it calls for 11.25 ounces of bread flour, 6.75 ounces of whole wheat flour, and 10 ounces of water (along with a couple tablespoons of butter).  again, it seemed like the rough-ish dough ball was going around and around, past the roller, without a whole lot of kneading happening.  in this case, i made another identical batch using a zojirushi bread maker to do the kneading, as a comparison.  as i suspected, i think i didn't use the dlx properly because the batch from the zojirushi rose higher and seemed lighter than the one from the dlx.

i haven't tried making larger batches yet and maybe that's where the dlx really excels.  but i know there will be frequent times when i'll need smaller batches and if the dlx won't do well in those situations then it might not be the right machine for me (in which case, any suggestions?)  ideally, i'd like a machine that can do both small batches and larger ones equally well.  i'm still hopeful that the dlx is the solution and that i just need to do something differently than i currently am.

thanks,

cc

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

Some vendors suggest using the roller and scraper, going so far as to say the dough hook was introduced just for the American market.  personally, I don't have much use for the roller.  It's too finicky.  I strongly prefer the dough hook

 

We had a thread about the dough hook a while back, it's at http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/6746/dlx-dough-hook

 

In that thread, I talk about making batches smaller than what you are talking about - the total batch was smaller than the amount of flour you are using.  I also make bagels at very close to 50% hydration with the hook.  No problems.

 

Mike

 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Cloudcover,

Mike is right on with his advice to skip the roller for stiffer doughs. If you do use the roller, I suggest starting with the liquids and add solids while manually positioning the roller arm to the outside and establishing the "dough nut shape". This is the part that is finicky and requires practice. I haven't had any luck locking the arm position as suggested in the manual. I does lock and work with certain semi slack doughs like rye mixes and high hydration dough. I usually don't count on locking and just play with the arm/roller position manually.

The first time I used the "Hook" attachment I watched with happiness as it rolled around the hook all by itself. Then I discovered the timer dial was actually useful. Once the dough comes together and you might need to poke and push it slightly to establish the ball, I set the timer and walk away. Imagine a kitchen machine that actually works without constant fiddling with.

I'm curious about "Atta flour" and Rotis bread. Could you tell us more about this?

Eric 

cloudcover's picture
cloudcover

well, i tried two more doughs and have a couple more data points:

 

1.  i tried making the "neo-neapolitan pizza dough" from the american pie book, which uses 22.5 ounces of high gluten flour and has somewhere around 71% hydration.  for this, i tried using just the dough hook with no scraper.  it worked fine for a while, but then the dough started wrapping around the hook and started "climbing" up towards the top of the hook.  i tried adding the scraper to see if that would help, but it didn't.  so there were two (seeming) problems:  (1) it looked like the dough had grabbed onto the dough hook and was mostly rotating around it, which doesn't seem like a particularly effective kneading action in terms of distribution of ingredients; and (2) the dough was climbing up towards the top of the hook.  hmmmm....

2.  i tried making the "soft white sandwich loaf" from rose levy beranbaum's "the bread bible," which used about 30 ounces of ap flour and has about 66% hydration.  i mainly made it because i thought it would be a good one to try with the roller and scraper, to see if i could work the "doughnut ringh" approach that people have mentioned.  by reserving some of the flour, i was able to get the doughnut ring to form.  hooray.  but then as i gradually added the rest of the flour, the doughnut ring transformed fairly quickly into a ball of (pliable) dough.  (by the time that happened, i'd probably mixed on low speed for about 2 minutes and then on medium for about 1 or 2 minutes).  and that ball of dough then kind of slapped around the bowl.  hmmm...

so, i still feel like i'm not "getting" it right.  i wish there was an experienced dlx user around here that i could watch.  :)  short of that, is anybody willing to take a video clip of making dough with the roller/scraper and the hook and posting it on youtube (with audio commentary explaining what they're doing and why)?

mike and eric: if you're mostly using the dough hook, then why not something like the bosch universal plus?  i know i'm probably thinking wrongly about this, but it seemed to me that the simple dough hook on the magic mill wouldn't mix ingredients as well as the more structured one on the bosch.

thanks again.

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

Cloudcover was heard to mumble:

1. i tried making the "neo-neapolitan pizza dough" from the american pie book, which uses 22.5 ounces of high gluten flour and has somewhere around 71% hydration. for this, i tried using just the dough hook with no scraper. it worked fine for a while, but then the dough started wrapping around the hook and started "climbing" up towards the top of the hook. i tried adding the scraper to see if that would help, but it didn't. so there were two (seeming) problems: (1) it looked like the dough had grabbed onto the dough hook and was mostly rotating around it, which doesn't seem like a particularly effective kneading action in terms of distribution of ingredients; and (2) the dough was climbing up towards the top of the hook. hmmmm....

When I posted the instructions as to how I used the dough hook, an important part of the instructions were, "walk away." People seem to think because the dough formed a ball on the hook it isn't being worked. And then they have to futz with the dough. However, the dough is being worked. And effectively. The mixer doesn't need your help.

 

Walking away eliminates the temptation to mess with the dough and the mixer.

 

Here's how I use the dough hook. I put all the liquid ingredients in the mixer. If the total dough weight is less than 5,000 grams, I put all the solid ingredients in the mixer. I turn on the mixer at its lowest speed. I watch to see that the dough is coming together. Putting the mixer on a higher speedis like hitting the gas pedal on a muscle car too hard so the wheels spin instead of your the moving. Peeling rubber doesn't move your car, the bowl spinning too fast doesn't mix your dough.

Sometimes, especially with a wet bowl, I see the ingredients just spinning around. If the ingredients are just spinning around, I move the hook a time or two to change what part of the spinning ingredients the hook is contacting. That usually starts the ingredients along the path towards becoming a mass of dough. If not, I have been known to poke at the ingredients with a spatula to get them to come together.

 

With some doughs, the scraper helps, with some it doesn't. If the dough isn't coming together, I put the scraper in

 

Once the dough is coming together, I set the timer for 5 minutes and walk away. I set a household timer for 10 minutes. When the household timer goes off, I go back to the mixer and start it up again for another 5 minutes.

 

For most doughs, the 5 minute mix. 5 minute rest, and 5 minute mix is enough dough development. Some doughs, especially bagels, need more. I find the 5/5/5 approach works with hand kneading and most machines as well. The 5 minute rest allows the dough to absorb water and reach a better equilibrium. This is especially important for whole wheat doughs and higher gluten doughs which absorb more water than lower gluten doughs, but absorb it more slowly. The rest saves you time. And, yes, that would suggest that machine kneading really isn't any faster than kneading by hand... at least, once you learn to effectively knead by hand.  It would also suggest that most mixers are very similar in their dough development capabilities.

 

The problem is that new users often have preconcieved notions of how a mixer should work, so they freak out and have to help or otherwise obsess when the mixer doesn't do what they think it should be doing. Walking away short circuits those impulses.

 

Cloudcover also asked:

mike and eric: if you're mostly using the dough hook, then why not something like the bosch universal plus? i know i'm probably thinking wrongly about this, but it seemed to me that the simple dough hook on the magic mill wouldn't mix ingredients as well as the more structured one on the bosch.

 

I had a Bosch Universal. I did not care for it and sold it on eBay. A friend also bought one and quickly sold hers on eBay. I felt the Bosch overworked the dough, and that the beaters were far too fragile. Since I already own a DLX, I didn't see any reason to look at the Universal Plus. I strongly feel that the DLX was worth the extra money over the Bosch Universal.

 

Mike

 

RigoJancsi's picture
RigoJancsi

Hi Eric,

The word atta (or aataa) literally means just flour in one of the indian languages. It usually denotes wheat flour (without the husk) which is used all over India for making flatbreads. It only needs to be mixed well till a soft pliable ball forms but must NOT be worked like the bread dough as the flatbreads don't need gluten development.

The white flour is called maida. It does not give you the best results for breadmaking since its gluten level varies a lot.

breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

I've always used the roller for mine, I never got the hang of the dough hook. I do admit sometimes with small batches like for pizza dough I would end up kneading a bit by hand. The DLX definitely likes bigger batches...maybe it would help getting your practice in on some larger quantities of dough until you feel like you have the hang of it? Or else, make more dough and freeze etc. and bake less often, ha ha.

I do think once you get the feel for it you will be fine, even with smaller batches.