KitchenAid Stand Mixer Help! (long)
I'm about to bite the bullet and order one. I have to order from Chefscatalog.com as I have $225 in gift certificates from them. I vaguely think that more wattage is supposedly better (but after watching a recent Good Eats episode where wattage was discussed and dismissed as being a bar for quality/power I'm not so sure anymore). I don't know the benefits of a bowl lift versus a tilt head. I am not an experienced baker. I make cookies from October to May....It's too hot to bake in the summer for me. And I've recently started baking bread (thanks to all for your suggestions...I turned out a lovely rosemary focaccia with olives and tomato last night). The biggest bread recipe I made yielded 3 loaves and took roughly 8 cups of white flour. I understand that the mixers handle considerably less specialty flour which KitchenAid defines as bread or wheat flour. I have yet to make a bread with anything other than white flour. How long does one need to knead using the mixer? By hand I've been averaging about 7 minutes. My Cook's Illustrated cookbook says that stand mixers make better bread as the risk of overflouring is reduced. They also mention that instant or fast acting yeast is preferable to the regular dry active. But I suppose that is another post. So basically I'm stuck. Doing this research is like reading webmd.com. I end up reading so much information that I'm totally conflicted, completely confused, and worse off than when I was just totally ignorant.
Thanks for sticking with me, if you've read this far. It's not an insignificant purchase for me, and I'd like my decision to based on something other than ordering the model with all the pretty color choices.
I've done a search on this board and I've seen the merits of buying refurbished discussed and I've seen wattage discussed....The majority seem to say that more is better. So I apologize if my questions have been asked and answered.
I have just gotten the DLX (Electrolux Assistent -- that is how they spell it), and I have to disagree with Cook's magazine in rating the mixers. We have a 25 year old Kitchen Aid mixer that is in need of repair, and I have used it ever since I got married (my husband came with a KitchenAid mixer -- how rare is that?) The problems I have always had with it are as follows: It is too small for really large recipes, so when I bake for a party, I have to make several recipes twice in order to get the volume I need. The KA is a pain in the neck to scrape down especially when you have the flour shield on. Moreover, you can't really see what's going on the same way that you can with the DLX.
I have ben told by several people that since KitchenAid is now owned by Maytag and by Hobart no longer, the quality has gone down. KA mixers are no longer built for the long haul. The other thing I love about the DLX is the fact that you can set the timer and it will mix or knead for the time you set it for and then turn off. I love not having to watch the clock. Moveover, it's got this very European vibe that looks a lot cooler and more interesting than the KA. Somehow, my bread seems to know the diffference!
I had a 4.5 qt tilt head for about 8 years and have now had a lift bowl 6 qt for about 1 1/2 years. Frankly I preferred the smaller model, however I will admit that I had problems with bread dough creeping up the hook on the smaller model. The 4.5 qt was much quiter and smoother running. I don't know if this was a function of the model of the age. I have heard there have been changes in the newer larger KAs and they are not as well made as they used to be.
I love my bowl-lift KA, which is over 15 years old and has never given me any trouble. I don't remember the wattage but it is more powerful than the tilt-head model. If you grate a lot of cheese or need to shred/slice a lot of vegetables, you'll appreciate the grater/shredder cones. That's the only accessory/attachment I have.
The top of the mixer sometimes gets warm if I am mixing a heavy batch of dough, but reportedly that's normal. It has never caused a problem. I would recommend getting the more powerful model--the endurance will be worth it.
The research is mind boggling!! I spent far less time choosing a refrigerator. I've been doing some research on KAs and interviewing friends who own KAs because I have been debating whether to get the 600 or Artisan model. They all agree that more power is better especially if you want to make lots of bread using whole grains and all say get the 600 model because it will handle whole wheat better. I was curious about the benefits/drawback of the tilt head vs. the bowl lever. Tilt heads have the advantage of being able to add ingredients easier than the bowl lever. However if space is an issue the tilt head needs to be brought closer to the edge of the counter if you have low hung cabinets. One friend likes the bowl lever because she can remove the beaters easier. The overall consensus from researching on Chowhound and elsewhere and talking with friends is to get the best machine you can afford. A friend offered for me to take her KA 600 for a spin. Perhaps you can query your friends to see who has KAs and do some physical research too. You may also want to call some department stores or high-end kitchen stores and see if they have any demonstrations planned or if they are willing to do a demo for you. You'll get lots of info and hopefully some tasty treats as a bonus.
I own the tilt-head 5-quart model (was about $299) and I absolutely love it. Would have loved to have gotten the cobalt-colored one, as my kitchen is decorated in cobalt and lemon yellow, but I still have a few appliances from the '70s in avocado green so I've since learned my lesson. White is good. Buy an extra bowl as your first accessory. It really comes in handy. My sister-in-law owns an Italian restaurant and has a huge floor model with a bowl the size of a VW bug (only kidding.......but it is huge!!) and also owns a tilt head and the lift type. Of all of them, she prefers the tilt head.
Among Kitchenaid stand mixers, bigger is definitely better, you can't really compare wattages across brands.
I own the lift type, and have used the tilt style, but didn't see any benefit.
There are some rebates on accessories floating around right now, so check before dropping all your money at one store.
As rugged as they are they can't do everything, I stripped a gear kneading a large heavy dough ($80 fix). Given that the machine is doing the work, splitting a batch is cheap insurance.
My KitchenAid is a K5B that's 50-some years old; got it at a flea market for $35, spent another $100 to get it refurbished - yes, all the parts are still available - and love it. I'd like a little more power, and the spring on the bowl lifter needs replacing, but these things are darn near immortal! All of the current attachments fit on it; so does the meat-grinder, which came with an even older KitchenAid, a "baby" model from 1932!
So by all means bite that bullet and get the best one you can afford - barring some major disaster it'll almost certainly outlive you!
I know you've been baking bread lately. I use my KA for bread exclusively, so let me give you a few of my thoughts based on my experiences using a KA for bread.
First, let me say that I really recommend a KA. I use it for breads all the time. And I can significantly bump up the water ratio in my doughs as a result. You simply can't hand knead really wet doughs.
I have a 5-quart Kitchen Aid Artisan. I got it free, so I can't complain. However, there isn't a single time I've used it when I haven't wished I had the larger, more powerful version.
Most important, I think, is to get a 6 quart. There is just no way you could ever make a 3-loaf batch of bread in a 5 quart. Or even a good, wet 2-loaf bread dough. On big double loaves in my 5-qt the dough creeps up to the top and over, so I have to split it into two and do it separately. Lame.
Also, get bigger power. While folks say wattage or whatever isn't a measure of power... fine... I don't know. All I know is that if you are comparing Kitchen Aid to Kitchen Aid, the higher wattage, the more power. Mine really struggles on big loaves. It will only go to medium on a dough. I turn it up higher, but it doesn't go faster... I'm sure I'm burning up the motor 10x faster than I would if I just had a more powerful motor.
I think all the big ones have the lift-bowl feature, rather than tilt heads. I have a tilt head, but wish mine was the lift-bowl type.
So, the long and short of it is:
* Yes, get it.
* Spend some extra $$ and get a bigger more powerful version
if i recall correctly, cook's illustrated, within the last 2-3 issues, reviewed stand mixers. they covered most of your questions. i can look it up tonight and summarize for you if you don't have access.
power going into a motor, whether it's measured in amps, watts, ohms, etc, doesn't matter too much as it depends on what the motor does with it. it's a rudimentary comparison at best (it would be more useful if you were looking at models within a brand, rather than comparing brands). output power is a better measure, but is much less frequently speficied.
1) short and wide is better than tall and deep regarding the bowl.
2) most manufacturers provide wattage figures for how much power the motor uses, not for how much power it produces; and it's not necessarily a linear relationship. only hobart provides output power figures. in most cases, power info is a marketing gimmick.
kitchen aid pro 600 - best all around.
delonghi dsm5 - as good as above, but "lacked composure" under heavy loads.
hobart n50 - cons = massive, quiet, narrow bowl, hard to turn off/on, and expensive, pros = handled anything with aplomb.
recommended w/ reservations are:
viking vsm500 - performed well when they were able to keep the attachments attached.
delonghi dsm7 - awkwardly shaped bowl. strained a good deal under a load.
kitchen aid artisan - kneading & heavy mixing caused strain. somewhat awkward bowl shape. great at creaming & whipping. ok for infrequent bread makers.
kitchen aid accolade 400 - just all around slightly sub par than the artisan above.
viking vsm700 - same as vsm500 above w/ addition of cavernous bowl that 2 egg whites basically got lost in (too little for the beater to even touch them).
hamilton beach cpm700 - weak motor, poor performance on large loads, awkward power switch, same bowl problem as vsm700 above.
bosch universal kitchen machine - processor style handled dough well, but condensation on lid affected dough moisture. does poor job of mixing lighter ingredients.
not recommended are:
kitchen aid classic - too small, fine for creaming/whipping, inadequate for dough making.
electrolux dlx-2000 assistent - huge, too huge. very poor design.
Ho Ho Holy cow! That's wonderful!!! Congratulations! When I got mine ten years ago, the 600 wasn't available, but I got the highest power availabe - at the time the KitchenAid Pro something with 350 watts. I got it as a gift for my graduation from graduate school. I LOVE it and use it twice a week, minimum. Enjoy yours!