Counter top mixer recommendation
I have a 22-year old Kitchen Aid Ultra Power (I think the bowl might be 5 quarts?) that is still going strong, but it's too small! I need one that has a larger capacity and a strong motor to mix dense cookie dough and knead bagel dough.
I am considering a Kitchen Aid Professional series but have my eye on a commercial Kitchen Aid from a restaurant supply store. The commercial mixer is expensive compared to the Professional but its main attraction is it appears to be more rugged. Professional models are on sale all the time and can be had for a reasonable price.
What are people's experiences with the Professional model? Are there other brands or models I should consider? I will live with this new mixer for decades so need to purchase wisely.
If you want it primarily for kneading dough, and mixing dense cookie dough, do a search here on the Ankarsrum Assistent, formerly called the DLX or Electrolux or Magic Mill. There are also some pretty good you tube videos - here is one for bagels https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nG52588uie4 and here is one with cookie dough, though I never put that much dough in my machine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1euZNh4zPE. The machine is expensive but will last for many decades.
I'd go for the Ankarsrum. I bought mine from Pleasant Hill Grain and gave away my kitchen aid. I do everything in it. Some people say that it's mainly for bread but I love it for cakes and cookies too. Larger capacity, better motor and quieter plus the bowl is completely open. The meat grinder attachment is fantastic too so much better than the KA version. Love the cookie press you can use with it too.
I have an older Ultra Power and I will say that it has served me well.
I've worked with the "Pro" series and although they did the job, they did it in what to me was a very noisy and scary way. The capacity was greater (I seem to recall) but not by that much.
I've worked with small Hobarts and they are great. If the "Commercial" Kitchen Aid is like one of them, it will be much quieter and perform very well.
I also have the Assistant (Ankarsum - DLX - whatever...) and it is positively great for cookies, cakes, egg whites, bread dough. For anything else but bread dough it is my favorite. It does a great job with bread dough, but...
If you want to be a real high roller, go to the Pleasant Hill Grain website and check out the Haussler spirals. That is my favorite for bread - brioche - bagels, etc. There is a beater kit for it, but I have no experience with that.
Because you speak of cookies, you should probably give the Assistant a look. I've worked with a number of mixers and, as I said, the Assistant is my favorite.
The European style mixers have a fundamentally different action than a stand mixer (merely a miniature version of vertical mixers). I have never owned a "DLX" style mixer, but I do have a Bosch "Concept" mixer with a Doughmaster Kneading Hook. When kneading dough, it cannot compare to a stand mixer, a spiral mixer, or a food processor. The only thing I now use it for is mixing fruitcake batter, because of the gentle motion of the dough "hook".
The best kneading performance is to be had with a spiral mixer, although the cost is high. They also lack the versatility of stand mixers. I own and use a SP5 micro spiral mixer (I believe it is the smallest and least expensive). It only has one speed, however, which makes it undesirable for whole wheat bread (whole wheat dough must be first mixed at slow speed). I once used the Bosch Concept mixer to do the initial slow mixing, then transferred the dough to the SP5 for development. That was quite a bother, so now I mix my 100% whole wheat dough in an old KitchenAid K5SS 5 quart stand mixer equipped with a replacement spiral dough hook meant for more modern models.
Bob S - I'm not sure if you really meant to reply to my comment or just post.
I actually do own an Assistant (DLX, Anskarum, whatever...) and I have mixed equal weights of bread dough in both it and in my Haussler spiral. The Assistant uses a roller and scraper action for bread dough (and people report for other things as well). It mixed the bread dough only slightly slower and with a bit more trouble than the spiral. I'd consider it to be very effective.
Of course a spiral mixer is the best for bread dough, but it is a one trick pony. I've made all manner of things in the Assistant - which outperforms my well used Kitchen Aid. One of the things that is difficult in pastry baking is creaming fat and sugar. Most bakers don't cream enough and I found that the Assistant, with its stable operation and timer really does a superior job. I don't get anything from anybody to praise a mixer and it really kind of surprised me with how it handled pastry needs.
I am unfamiliar with the Bosch, so I'll make no comment on that.
The story of my old SP5 is too sad to contemplate (although I had no trouble mixing whole wheat dough in it until the big trouble that stopped its mixing altogether happened). I've had to move on and try to forget. I am one of the rare home bakers that has had both an SP5 and a Haussler. The Haussler (although more expensive) is so superior in so many ways (removable bowl, 2 speeds, timer, ability to perform maintenance) that well, I just can't tell you. My advice, if someone is contemplating a spiral (on this date, as we will not know what might appear in the future) that they should wait until they can afford the Haussler and skip the SP5 altogether.
So not to be disagreeable, but I've got to stand up for my Assistant. I expect a lot from my mixers, so I try to be loyal to them.
Hope this helps.
Take a look at the Bosch. It is half the price of the Ankarsum and can be purchased with cookie paddles. I have mixed 8 pounds of bread dough in mine and it doesn't strain a bit. Pleasant Hill Grains handles it also.
Thank you all so much! I have never heard of Ankarsrum, Haussler, or Bosch mixers. I will certainly go to Pleasant Hill Grains and take a look. I looked at the video link of the Ankarsrum Barry posted. It's a little weird. Does it really knead dough? I looked like it moved it around. So different from a dough hook. I suppose one has to have faith.
BobS: What do you mean by, "I have never owned a "DLX" style mixer, but I do have a Bosch "Concept" mixer with a Doughmaster Kneading Hook. When kneading dough, it cannot compare to a stand mixer, a spiral mixer, or a food processor." It can't compare in a good way or bad way? Not sure what a spiral mixer is?
I am not in a hurry and will take time to make the best informed decision I can since I'll live with this puppy for a long time. I so appreciate all the knowledge of this forum and the willingness of forumites to share.
Trimom, yes, the DLX does actually knead dough, but in a gentle way. I should have also noted that the DLX has a learning curve because it operates in a different manner than most mixers. Before I bought mine, I had no idea what people were talking about when they mentioned roller and scraper - but after you have used it 4 or 5 times you should be used to it. I am not as lucky as proth5, since I have never used a spiral mixer, but I have owned and used a Bosch Universal, a Bosch Compact, a KA 5SS ( IIRC, it has been a long while since I have used it ) , a Bosch Concept with both dough hooks, and the DLX. For general cake mixing, which I almost never do, I think the KA is pretty good - you will get a dusting of flour if you don't use the lid, and adding more ingredients is a pain, but I really liked the planetary action, and the paddle works well. The Boschs are all very well made. The Compact is the easiest to use, planetary action, and is very light and takes up very little space and is a good general purpose mixer. If you only made small amounts of dough, it is very durable and would be a great choice. The Concept , the Universal, and the Universal Plus take a little getting use to with the center column, and at certain volumes and hydrations, can have trouble with the dough wrapping around the column and not mixing. The DLX will mix anything - this weekend I made a test loaf of 200 grams of flour - and a ciabatta of 1000 grams of flour - and it handled both with no problems. Bagels are low hydration and can put a strain on a motor, and the DLX is just so powerful it is no problem to make bagels. I also have an older Cuisinart processor, that I have used for pizza dough and ciabatta, but have never tried it for bagels, and again, since they are low hydration, I don't know if that is a good match. Some reviews of the newer KA's are pretty positive, others have had some issues with reliability and fit and finish out of the box. Since there are so many other good options, I doubt I would spend much time looking at the KA unless you wanted a general purpose mixer that you could use on occasion to knead dough. For regular kneading of dough, I would look at Bosch or DLX.
Your experience with the Bosch Universal matches mine. I haven't been very happy with the machine. I guess if you were making mid to large size batches all the time, and the dough weren't too hydrated, then it probably works great. I make a lot of single loaves, though, and my food processor seems to work best for that when the dough is very hydrated.
To use the Bosch for creaming butter, you really need the cookie paddles.
The Bosch machine is very well built and quite powerful. But as you observed, it does not work well with small loads (3 pounds of dough and under). For someone contemplating running large batches of dough, it could be cost effective.
Oddly enough, I don't think it's the DLX's power that makes the difference. Watch the kneading action closely; no matter what the dough amount or its hydration, the motor works only against the spring loaded roller arm. Genius design, no?
No faith needed. It's about engineering. The roller squeezes the dough each time 'round. Then the scraper (more a breaker bar with dough) gives the dough a slight turn in its turn. As the dough comes together, the scraper begins to hold the dough for a moment to add a bit of stretch and turn. If your recipe calls for an improved mix, this is about that point. The gluten will get stronger and will hang on to the scraper longer. This is the point where you'll think nothing is happening. You couldn't be farther from the truth. Look closely, notice that the dough ball is held between the scraper and roller, while the bottom is being twisted like a rope. That shortens the dough ball until it is pulled loose from the scraper to be squeezed again by the roller. At this point or soon after, you can probably form a window pane thin enough to make out your finger print through the dough membrane.
The way the DLX cycles through squeezing, stretching and twisting the dough is fascinating and a testament to the machine's designers. I should mention again what I said responding to Barry above, The design means there is simply not much strain put on any of the parts. It should last about the same as a rock. Unless you run it through a crusher, it will keep on being a rock, or mixer.
What went wrong with your SP5 mixer? Could it not be repaired? Sorry if it brings back bad memories.
What happened with the SP5 is that the housing for the very tiny bearings on the spiral hook bent and the bearings came loose and went down into the shaft. I have since talked to other people and this is something that has happened on other SP5s - there seems to be a design weakness there.
Since it was out of warrantee, I got a "not our problem" from TMB Baking. They could recommend no repair facility.
Anyway, these bearing got in to the mixer mechanism and tore up a bunch of other parts. The parts needed to be ordered from Italy and cost nearly the price of the mixer. But I soldiered on.
From there the story gets sadder and more personal. Suffice it to say, after many months I abandoned the broken mixer, paid for no parts or labor, and since I had gotten a big quarterly bonus, ordered up a Haussler.
Sometimes I reflect on my experience and write it off as "paying for knowledge." In terms of a mixer, however, I have never looked back. Even when it worked, I justified a lot of the shortcomings of the SP5 as "not too bad." And they really weren't "too" bad. It worked OK when it worked. I don't do that with the Haussler (which was not available in the US when I bought the SP5).
Hope this helps.
Holy cow is that one beauty of a mixer! I want it. But, then reality sets in, and I will probably go with a Bosch or the Anskarum, most likely Bosch. The price differential between a Bosch and Anskarum is enough that I can't justify the step up to Anskarum when in the end my cookies and bagels and bread dough will all be mixed and kneaded. Can someone disabuse me of this opinion?
try to tell someone to go against their own good opinion on anything.
But before you "lock in" - as a Haussler owner (Yes, it is a beauty. It comes emblazoned with the motto "So wird nature costlich" , which I translate from the pseudo German to be "Of course it's expensive" - No piling on with the real translation - I know what it is.) that I have found the Ankarsum nearly as good at mixing bread. And I love it for other tasks great and small.
I will offer the observation that on this thread, the Bosch owners say things like "works great, except for...". None of the Assistant (Ankarsum, DLX, whatever..) owners do.
I love beautiful tools, and I have often found that when I get something that seems like overkill, I up my game, because the really good tool makes it faster and easier.
Good luck with your choice. If you are as happy as I am with my assortment of mixers, then you have chosen well, indeed.
Well personally I never want to go back to an overhead motor. The completely open bowl is just a dream when adding ingredients and monitoring whats going on.
proth: Thanks for sharing your experience with the SP5. Sounds like something to DEFINITELY stay away from.
You really seem to like your Haussler. Sometimes you just have to chalk it up to experience.
love the thing.
Recently I have heard of troubles with the control panel, but mine has run like a champ. I also hear that PHC is working with the manufacturer to get things straightened out.
I don't mean to slander the SP5. It was a good machine while it lasted. But you should be able to feel some of my pain...
The "5" in Sp5 stands for 5 kg (11 pounds) of dough capacity. TMB baking lists the capacity at 8 pounds of dough, presumably because of the stronger nature of North American flour. In my experience, anything above 4 pounds of dough puts a great deal of strain on the Sp5. I was wondering; how big were the batches of dough that you ran on the SP5? It would not surprise me if running the machine at capacity shortened its' life span. I always take the capacities of mixers that are given by the manufacturer with a grain of salt. Sometimes they are correct, but are sometimes they are overstated.
While you make valid points about mixer capacity, I was not running the machine at anywhere near the stated or practical capacity, nor was it run many hours a day every day. And frankly, one should be able to put a bit of a load on a spiral from time to time and not have it break.
I'm going to say in my defense, that after careful examination of the bearing housing on my machine, it looked like it would be very easy to get bent out of shape. The fact that I have heard anecdotes about that happening in other machines, well....
Again, I've got nothing against the SP5 because after a long string of unfortunate incidents, I now have a better mixer. With that much of an investment in a mixer, my opinion is that the incremental cost needs to be evaluated in terms of quality received. Had the Haussler been available when I decided to take the plunge on buying a spiral, it would have been better for me to buy it not only in light of my sad story, but because it is demonstrably a more robust and better designed machine.
If you like your SP5 and it treats you well (which if you feel you cannot mix whole wheat doughs in it I'll question, but that's me) that's all a person can ask of a machine.
Trimom, sorry if I started you looking at expensive mixers, but you said commercial Kitchen Aid from a restaurant supply store, so I assumed that would be in the range of the DLX. As proth5 says, most Bosch users love their Bosch, and if there is a complaint is that for some tasks - it is not ideal ( Small volume, high hydration are the one most mentioned) If you don't need it for those tasks on a regular basis, I would guess that you would be very happy with a Bosch and save a lot of money v. an Assistent. I went used through ebay, so the price difference was much smaller, and as proth5 says, it handles more tasks than the Bosch without any issues. One other thing to consider is that the Bosch mixing bowl is plastic, the Assistent is stainless steel - which makes it heavier, but I like the stainless steel feel - others like the lighter weight of plastic. The only mixer I would rule out would be the tilt head Kitchen aid . It would not hold up to kneading bagel dough on a regular basis - IIRC, America's Test Kitchen did a test and the tilt head model broke before they could complete kneading 10 loaves of bagels and pizza dough ( with rest breaks in between.) I didn't agree with their findings on other machines, but to have a mechanical part fail during testing is not a sign of durability.