The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Do I really need a mixer?

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pixy's picture
pixy

Do I really need a mixer?

Hi, I am a new baking trying to make bread on a regular ocassion, I am researching mixers out there.  I am so glad I found your site. My big question is do I really need a mixer to make good bread.  I was all sold on saving up for a Bosch Universal Plus with all the bells and whistles when I came across the post on autolayse or something like that where you just let it sit.  The Bosch claims that it will help you get better gluten development, but I agree with the posting that bread has been around since like the bible or something and I am positive that Noah did not use a mixer to make his bread.  So is a mixer really a necessity? Is it just a matter of ease and convience?  What are the pros and cons of having a mixer vs. doing it all by hand. I have a bread maker and a VitaMix. If I really do need a machine, could you suggest how to make those work for me?  I don't like the look, taste or shape of bread baked in a bread machine.  HELP!!! 

Thank you in advance for all of your priceless advice and help... this site is amazing!  

PIXY 

SteveB's picture
SteveB

Pixy,

I have found that most types of bread can be made perfectly well without the use of a mechanical mixer.  I've detailed my experiences with dough mixers here:

http://www.breadcetera.com/?p=9

That being said, for people who are mixing very large quantities of dough or for those who might have a physical disability, a dough mixer might be the way to go.  As a home baker, I find my hands to be my best tools for mixing.   

SteveB

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Pixy,
Welcome the TFL! There are two things that will help you understand (well maybe more but 2 will do) that you do not NEED a mixer. First, watch the video from Richard Bertinet. This method works with any dough mix and is a very good way to get to understand what well developed dough should feel like. Save the location so you can go back and watch it again later. Here it is VIDEO

The second resource I suggest you look at is a thread called Eye Opening Techniques that is listed on the front page of this site. Here is the link. There are several stretch and fold videos and French Fold video clips to help you understand how to put dough together without a mixer. Mr Bertinet says you will make better bread by hand and I believe it. I do own a mixer but for a 2 loaf batch a hardly ever use it and lots of folks here make great bread and always work by hand.

Hope this helps,

Eric

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

And they knows how to make bread, that's for sure.

 

I don't use a mixer and have been very pleased with most of my bread. Even bread that calls for a mixer will come out fine once you learn the techniques like Eric said. Give it a good try. You can always change your mind down the line. Mixers cost a lot, they have to be hauled out, usually, they make a lot of noise and use energy that you already have in your hands for free. And you don't need lots of strength or stamina when using stretch and fold techniques. Good luck.

 

And Welcome to TFL. Enjoy. weavershouse

Floydm's picture
Floydm

No, you don't need a mixer to make great bread. That said, I got a KitchenAid on sale a year or two ago and find that I bake more often now that I have one. Baking 2 or 3 batches of bread a day is no sweat with mixer. But you most certainly do not need one.

Welcome to the site.

verminiusrex's picture
verminiusrex

I'll agree with what everyone is saying, you don't have to have a mixer to make bread, but it does make bread baking easier and faster.  I can do up a 3.5 lb lump of dough in about 4 minutes with my KitchenAid 600 series mixer, and every Friday I use it to make about 8 dozen bagels and 4 loaves of bread for the local Farmer's Market.  If you enjoy the zen of hand kneading, go for it.  If you are in it mostly for the fresh baked bread with the least effort, then go for a mixer.

 

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Welcome Pixy, and no, you don't need a mixer to make great bread. But a mixer can help make great bread and one sure does come in handy when dealing with wet doughs such as Peter Reinhart's pain a l'ancienne.

I use my KA Artisan for the Reinhart baguettes, ciabattas, and of course, cookies, pies, cakes, mashed potatoes, etc. I have the best of both worlds as I do hand knead my sourdough bread.

I think how much time you have available and how many loaves you will be baking each day/week are important considerations, not only in the decision of whether to invest in a mixer, but which brand.

In addition to looking through this site, reading a good book on baking bread, such as Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice may help you in reaching a decision on which route to go.

 

Marni's picture
Marni

Welcome to the site! 

I'm also in agreement with everyone above.  I have made and do still make bread by hand, but the mixer sure makes things fast and easy.  I have a KitchenAid Artisan and the Pro 600.  The Artisan is almost always enough machine and for large batches, I use my hands. (Hauling out the big machine is a pain.)  Also, I love having the mixer for cakes and cookies.  The smaller one sits out on the counter and is used almost daily.

That said, I have a bread machine that I used before I had a mixer just to knead the dough.  The machine made fine soft white bread doughs, and pizza dough, but I don't know that it would work well for heavier dough.  I never tried it.  Since you own the bread machine, you could try it just for mixing, see what you get.

Marni

granniero's picture
granniero

granniero  I use my bread machine more for mixing and kneading than baking. I can get 2 medium loaves out of a batch of dough, one to eat and one to share. And I can shape it into rolls,etc. I have joint problems that prevent me from much hand kneading so it is ideal for me. With my old bread machine, I was happy for years to mix and bake in the machine but then branched out into removing the dough and doing other things with it. Thought I had to have a new toy so bought the big Zojoruishi but not 100% happy with the way it bakes, so use it mostly for mixing and kneading, it does a good job of that.  Lots of ideas and advise to be found here, this is a great place to learn.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Pixy.

As all the previous respondents have said, you do not need a mechanical mixer to make great bread. I agree.

That said, I always use a mixer to knead my breads. I use the mixing time to wash up the bowls and implements used in the preceding stage. The whole process goes faster for me. I almost always bake on weekends, and I almost always bake 2-4 different breads on the weekends I bake, so I want to use my precious time most efficiently.

I usually do finish kneading by hand after most of it has been done mechanically. A lot of doughs seem to want this before bulk fermentation.

Just to be perfectly clear about this: My reason for machine kneading is entirely for convenience. I do not think my bread is better because of it.

I suppose I am forgoing the pleasure of entirely hand kneading, and I would like to have more of that experience. Maybe I'll switch over when I retire.

Now, you have a bread machine. I don't, but I understand you can use it to mix your dough and knead it and still bake it in loaf pans or free-form. I think Janedo, who bakes bread almost every day, does this. Maybe she will show up and offer her experience. Marni may have more to say about this option too.


David

pixy's picture
pixy

Hello and thanks for all the responses to my question.  It sounds like I ought to just use what I have to make bread.  I have 4 little boys and one in particualar really likes to help me in the kitchen (he even helped me when I was home canning my tomatoes! Pretty good for a 4 year old!), so maybe doing bread my hand would actually be something we can do together. 

I also see that doing bread with a machine is nice for the convience and ease, so I would like to know more about how to make bread in a bread maker and then bake in the oven.  What temperature do you bake the bread at?  How is this done?  I would love to hear from the person mentioned above who does this every day.  Please tell me all about it!  My goal is to want to stop buying bread at the store all together, I saw a recipe somewhere on this site for a sandwich bread, which is how I found this site in the first place.  My children love bagels so between sandwiches and bagels we eat a lot of bread that way.  Please advice how to make these breads with a bread machine.

Thanks so much!

Pixy 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Pixy,
Learning to bake bread is a fun adventure that many people have enjoyed for thousands of years. I suggest you go back to the front page of this site and look at the top for a link called "Lessons". You can learn how to bake a basic loaf and follow the lessons placed there for just this purpose. The owner of the site has been very careful about making this process easy to understand and sequentially build skills you will use forever.

It doesn't matter how you mix dough much. You can start by hand and switch to using some kind of machine if that suits you later. Have you seen the video I mentioned above? The one by Richard Bertinet? It doesn't get any easier than that. Good luck and please let us know how you are doing.

Eric