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Rolled baguette loaf, crumb shot
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2020-06-18 Yet Another Mixer Shootout

Mike's (more or less) Weekly Baking Tips LogoShould I hook, or should I roll?  We could turn that into a rock'n'roll anthem!  What's it all about?  Hang in for a few more paragraphs, and you'll be in with the in crowd!

Like many bakers, I grew weary of my KitchenAid mixer.  I wanted more capacity than the 4.5 quarts it hinted at or the 8 cups of all-purpose flour or 6 cups of whole wheat flour the manual said I could use.  They say it can make 3 loaves at a time, though each of them would be just under a pound.  Worse, the reports of KitchenAids failing were worrisome.  The KitchenAid manual warns that you should not make more than 2 batches back to back, and then let the mixer cool down for 45 minutes.  After trying a Bosch Universal Mixer, I sold it on eBay and then got an Electrolux Assistent, now sold as an Ankarsum,  which fans call "Ank".  I've had it over 10  years and it is still a workhorse.  I've made batches as large as 4 dozen bagels and it made them with good grace.  A maximum load is in the 8 to 10 pound or 4 to 5 kilogram range.  It can make 8 loaves of the just under a pound size the KitchenAid can make 3 of.  It has no trouble with whole grain flours and no trouble with back to back loads.  Yeah, I like it!

When I bought the mixer Gisele, the lady who sold it to me, told me she never used the dough roller, just the dough hook.  She told me not to mess with the dough roller because it didn't work all that well.  So, I've used the hook for a decade.  I suggested using the hook to other Ank users and several of them switched to using the hook.

Lately, I've heard people saying that all the hook does is tear the dough, that it doesn't develop it.  They say that the roller emulates the action of hand kneading.  Because it is so gentle, they say you can make dough with less flour.

Some people in the middle ground use the roller for small batches and the hook for larger ones.  Others prefer the hook for firmer doughs, such as bagels.  A few people tell me they start with the roller and finish the dough with the hook.  That puzzles me since they say the roller does a better job of developing the dough.  Why switch from the tool you feel is better to the tool you feel is worse?

A few people say that a machine can't develop dough, and they use a mixer for the initial mix and then develop the dough with stretch and fold techniques.  I've NEVER had trouble getting the dough development I wanted using any mixer.  The breads in Calve's "The Taste of Bread" were mixed with a large Hobart mixer (think KitchenAid on steroids) and the breads were wonderful.

Still, the question of the hook or the roller deserves to be tested.  The cynics among you may say it's a bit late to have a shootout on the hook versus roller question since I've had the mixer for for over a decade.  Yeah, but on the other hand, the mixer has served me well.

This project caught me with my starter down.  It was 9 AM and I wanted to mix some dough RIGHT NOW!  So, sourdough was out.  And I wanted as simple a dough as possible.  Flour, water, salt and yeast - amirite?  None of my recipes or formulas hit that nail on the head, and then I remembered that General Mills had given away a wonderful guide called, "Creating Artisan Breads" that had a great baguette recipe in it.  I scaled the recipe to make two 1 1/2 pound loaves, and to use instant dry yeast instead of fresh, or compressed, yeast.

Ingredients:

Volumetric Measure (Cups)IngredientGramsBaker's Percentage
2 2/3 CupsWater640 Grams68%
7 3/8 CupsBread Flour930 Grams100%
1 2/3 tspInstant Dry Yeast5.2 Grams0.56%
2 1/3 tspSalt (See note 1)14 Grams1.5%
Note 1 - different salts have different densities.  Te weight is correct regardless of salt type.  You may need to adjust if you use kosher salt, sea salt or artisanal salts.

This was a great choice!  A simple bread which filled the house with amazing aromas as it was baked.  And while I made pan loaves rather than baguettes, it still turned out great.  I made videos of the mixing of both batches.  They are below, and they are about as exciting as watching paint dry.

For the dough made with a hook, I dumped all the ingredients into the mixer and let it rip!  5 minutes of mixing at the lowest speed, a 5 minute rest to the let the moisture equalize and the dough relax, and then another 5 minute knead at lowest speed.  The dough came out nicely,

For the dough made with the roller, I used the technique suggested in the Ankarsum videos.   They start by adding the liquid to an empty bowl and then adding the salt.  Start the mixer and then add the flour a bit at a time.  Once some of the flour has been added, add the yeast.  The claim that you can make a dough with less flour by using the roller doesn't seem to look good in the cold light of dawn.  I weighed the ingredients and the roller used the same amount of flour as the hooked dough.  The dough was rolled for about 12 minutes at a higher speed than the hooked dough was mixed at.  The speed knob was set to about 2 o'clock.  (I really wish the Ank had a better speed selector system.  It just seems so vague and imprecise.)

After mixing, the dough was coated with a bit of olive oil, covered and allowed to rise for an hour.

The picture on the left is of the unrisen dough, the picture on the right is the risen doughy, about an hour later.  The dough on the left in each picture was mixed with the dough hook, the dough on the right was rolled.  At this point, i didn't have a clear preference for one dough or the other.

After the rise, it was time to preshape and shape the loaves.  The rolled dough surprised me in that it was not at all sticky.  Both doughs formed nice loaves.  The loaves were put in bread pans, covered and allowed to rise.  After panning the loaves, I turned the oven on to 425F/220C to let it warm up.  After about 40 minutes the loaves were risen and put in the oven.  After 20 minutes, the loaves were moved around in the oven to ensure they were evenly baked.  After 20 minutes more, they were pulled out of the oven, checked to see if they were done and then allowed to cool.

Here are some more pictures.

In the pictures above, the hooked dough is on the left, the rolled dough is on the right.  The crumb on both breads was a very nice sandwich bread crumb.  It felt good when I ate it, and both loaves tasted great!

However, the shape of the rolled dough was superior to the hooked dough, the rolled dough rose somewhat more than the hooked dough, and the rolled dough had better color.

This leaves me with questions.

  • Would the hooked dough have caught up if allowed to rise a bit more?  I could let the hooked dough rise more, but considering the shape of the hooked loaf, it may have already risen too far.
  • Were the differences due to mixing or oven placement?  Both rolled doughs started on the bottom rack of the oven and were then moved to the top rack.  Next time, one of each lof should be on each rack to minimize the possible differences in heat distribution.
  • Using a longer, and faster, mix with the hook may make a difference.

Some tentative conclusions:

  • It's not clear the roller emulates hand kneading,
  • The hook clearly does more than tear the dough,
  • We need to try again with longer and faster kneading with the hook, and
  • The roller was more effective than I was led to believe.

Until next time, may your dough always rise, no matter how you develop it!
-Mike

10 thoughts on “2020-06-18 Yet Another Mixer Shootout!”

  1. Dennis McCanna

    Hi Mike, enjoyed the article and video. I am curious though. I ONLY HAVE EXPERIENCE with 2 mixers, the Wondermix (a POS) and the Artiste a cheap version I believe of the Bosch. The Artiste with the dough hook actually “rolls” the dough similar to hand kneading. It does it without tearing the dough. For me I am absolutely in love with this mixer but I use for small batches of dough so I don’t know how it would react with large batches. It develops the dough beautifully requiring no additional manipulations. Can you some time talk a bit about the Bosch and your experiences with it? Real life experiences with products especially from a professional helps folks in their purchases.

    I almost bought an “ANK” until Eric from Breadtopia (the owner) elaborated on his views. His wife uses the “Ank” he the Artiste. Although I never bought from him I am glad I spoke to him on the subject.

    1. Hi Dennis,
      Thanks for the kind words. As you said, the Artiste looks like a Bosch copy.

      Neither my staff nor I liked the Bosch we had. (This was when I had a bakery.) We wanted a mixer that could handle larger batches of frostings, fillings and test runs. Our KitchenAid K-45SS was not up to the task, and our 30 quart Hobart and our 50 quart spiral mixer were total overkill. A planetary mixer, like a KitchenAid or Hobart has a minimum load of about 1/3 the maximum load. A spiral mixer is a bit more flexible and the minimum load is about 10% of the maximum load.

      For bread dough, we felt that the Bosch heated the dough too much and worked it too hard. Even the Hobart was more gentle. The other problem was that the whisks were SO fragile. With the KitchenAid I have often put sticks of frozen butter in the mixer and beaten them into submission – it’s quite noisy, but no harm is done. With the Bosch, the manual warns you to only use butter at room temperature. When we tried refrigerated butter – not frozen, refrigerated!, the whisks were destroyed in seconds.

      The staff begged me to get rid of the Bosch. Which model was it? It’s been over 15 years, so I really don’t remember.

      We got the Ank, and while there was a bit of a learning curve, it found a happy home in our bakery, and then in my home.

      Best wishes,
      Mike

  2. Peyton Perkins

    What model Kitchen Aid mixer did you use previously? I have both a 4 at and a Pro 600, the latter allowing up to 3500 grams of dough.
    Regards,
    Peyton Perkins
    Boulangerie sur le Bateau
    Oregon

    1. Hi Peyton,

      We have a KitchenAid K-45SS I bought in the late 1970’s. It was one of the last ones Hobart made. It has been a very reliable machine, but then again, I read the manual and stayed within its guidelines. It is featured in the first mixer throwdown we did.

      The manual warns”DO NOT PREPARE MORE THAN TWO BREAD RECIPES CONSECUTIVELY, ALLOW MIXER TO REST 45 MINUTES BEFORE USING AGAIN.”

      The manual warns against making batches of bread that use more than 8 cups of all purpose flour, and to cut that in half when using whole grain flour. The Pro 600 is supposed to handle 16 cups of flour, if memory serves.

      We should start with a discussion of “What’s a Cup?,” and that leads to the question of is 8 cups 800 grams, 960 grams, or 1,600 grams? That is a serious enough a discussion that it is worth noting professional mixers (rather than ones that just claim to be “Pro”), list load limits by weight and type of work. LOTS of egg whites, less cake batter, less white bread, less whole wheat bread, and much less pizza or bagel. The cups are confusing. Even if we, like the flour companies, assume that a cup is 130 grams 8 or 14 cups pf flour could be 1,716 or 3,432 grams of 65% hydration sandwich dough, 1,590 or 3,161 grams of 52% hydration bagel dough. That much bagel dough will kill either the K-45SS or Pro-600. The “Flour Power” concept KitchenAid uses is pretty lame.

      Sadly, the Ank isn’t much better in this regard, though it isn’t claiming to be a professional mixer. The manual says it can handle 5,000 grams of dough without specifying what kind of dough. That said, I haven’t been as careful with the Ank as with the KA, and the Ank has handled everything I’ve thrown at it. 4 dozen bagels was a mess, 3 dozen worked well

      Best wishes,
      Mike

    2. That’s shocking because I have the Pro 600 and it can barely do a 1500g of bagel dough (16 bagels) and it gets warm and struggles horribly so I avoid it if possible. Half that is usually not an issue though. I’ve never been very happy with it. Maybe the feeling is mutual.

  3. OMG, I’m in love! The Ankarsrum looks AMAZING.
    I used to bake bread a lot, but am no longer physically able to knead. As a (not-so-great) solution, I was using a bread machine to knead, stopping the baking process and re-kneading in it for three kneadings total. Then I removed the dough to rise and bake in my oven in loaf pans because I dislike the tough crust formed by the bread machine. A couple of years ago, I quit baking bread entirely–I got into a job that took 70-80 hours a week and too many other things had to be left out of life! I’m now retired and eager to get back to baking my own bread!

    As I have been getting a new sourdough starter going, I’ve been refreshing my memory of baking and found your website. This machine looks SO MUCH BETTER than what I was doing! Guess what’s going on my birthday wish list!

    I have a couple of questions after watching the two videos comparing the dough hook to the dough roller. Would it be possible to start with the hook, then change to the roller, and would this make a difference? Also, if one were to make the timing on each exactly the same–kneading time, then any rest and additional kneading time–would the dough still behave differently or more alike for the hook and the roller? I’m wondering whether the loaf made with the roller rose more because it got kneaded for a longer total time.

    Thanks for all the very helpful information you provide!

    Thanks for providing these videos!

    1. Hi Sandy,
      Thanks for the kind words.

      Different people have different reasons they can’t knead by hand. We’ve had a number of people with carpal tunnel issues in our classes and they told us they couldn’t knead. They, and we, were delighted when they could knead the way we teach with no problems. Another approach is to use the much gentler stretch and fold technique.

      Yet another approach is the no-knead recipes we’ve seen online. While they make better bread than you’ll find in the grocery store, or even in many bakeries, we haven’t been all that impressed. They look great, but they are lacking in flavor. Still, we wouldn’t turn our noses up at those breads.

      That test is actually on my radar, hopefully for this week. Stay tuned for an update.

      -Mike

  4. Hi – I have been using an “ANK” here in Israel for about 8 years. It is very definitely my mixer of choice for bread doughs (I should know, over the past 20 years I have destroyed many Kenwood mixers which I was an avid fan of). I still haven’t decided between the roller and the dough hook. The first dough I made was using the recipe that came with the ANK and it used the roller. I remember the bread as being excellent – but it wasn’t sourdough, just regular yeast. That was great, but so was the dough hook when I tried it later with regular dough and sourdough. So what I would say is that it’s a bit like your favorite soccer team – you may not know why you support them, but you do. One thing I can say is that because it’s a direct drive machine (rather than belt driven) it’s a real workhorse and has given me no problems from the day it arrived. That’s a good thing because here in Israel they cost around $1300.

    1. Hi Phillip,
      I’m always glad to hear from another Ank fan!

      The price you mention in Israel is frightening! At that price point, I’d have to think long and hard about buying one.

      Best wishes,
      Mike

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