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.
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!
I had a tilt head, although not a KA. I now have a bowl lift model and would recomend that. Mine is almost 10 years old, gets a lot of use and is still cranking away.
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
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!
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.