Breadmaking-Standing Mixer vs. Food Processor
- Jeff Campbell
I seem to recall some book mentioning that the food processor is the very best for kneading bread dough. I make a lot of bread, and always use my Kitchenaid. (I did compare handkneaded to the Kitchenaid. If I kept the dough wet enough to get the crumb I wanted, the hand kneading was such a B**** that it lead to a lot of swearing, and the bread turned out the same.)
Since I just got a big food processor, I decided to make two identical batches, one with my Kitchenaid standing mixer, and one with a Cuisenart food processor.
It took much less time for the first knead- 2.5 minutes instead of 5, and the dough was much smoother, "window-paned" great. I rested each of them, added salt, then kneaded again, 2 minutes for the Cuisinart, 5 for the Kitchenaid. The processor dough was so smooth that the surface was glassy, like plastic. The Kitchenaid dough was the usual "baby's bottom" texture.
But after raising, shaping, retarding for 12 hours, then the final proof and baking, the two breads were identical. The Kitchenaid bread may have risen a little faster.
The biggest difference was getting the food processor clean- this took me 45 minutes. Some of the dough had crawled up the bowl shaft, into the inside of the dough blade, down the drive shaft, and around the base of the drive shaft. It was really hard to clean some of those areas, particularly inside the dough blade and where the drive shaft comes out of the motor.
I will never knead bread dough in the Cuisinart again.
But in the interest of fairness, what experiences do others have when using these tools?
I can't believe you haven't graduated to a good bread machine...makes great dough for rolls and shaped bread, and bakes a pretty good loaf for general use. In fact, lately I've been making great focaccia...I just can't seem to make enough to keep everyone happy.
I use a large size Cuisinart regularly to make bread, and make a pretty good-sized loaf (6-7 cups of floour) and have never had this problem. I love it because I can start the poolish the night before in the Cuisinart, leave the cover on, and just continue in the morning.
It sounds to me like you may be leaving the dough in the Cuisinart longer than I do, however. Generally following some instructions I read a long time ago in Julie's "The Way to Cook" I use the machine to first mix the ingredients together thoroughly and then let the dough rest. Then I knead it for 40-50 seconds in the machine. If it goes longer, the machine will heat the dough. By this time it is relatively easy to get the dough out of the machine onto a board, where I give it a final knead before putting it in a bowl to rise.
Cleanup is a cinch. There is sometimes a little liquid around the base of the machine that cleans up easily. Everything else goes in the dishwasher and comes out fine.
There have been a number of books about the food processor method of making bread, but one of the best known is Charles van Over's "The Best Bread Ever." In my experience making recipes from van Over's book, the food processor method works extremely well for basic flour-water-yeast breads like pizza dough, baguettes, sandwich bread, etc. (Come to think of it, I can't wait for cold weather, so I can make some more of those pizzas!) On the other hand, I've had really disappointing results making enriched breads.
Van Over's technique requires that you process the dough for exactly 45 seconds and bring the dough to no more than 80 degrees. My own opinion is that this is just pseudo-science. I've processed for longer than he recommends and heated the dough up to 100 degrees without any difference in the final product.
Finally, cleanup has never been a problem. If some dough goes up the shaft, I slide it up and down the base while running COLD water. Remember, you should always use cold water to clean up bread dough...hot water will turn your dough into glue! Better yet, just toss the whole thing in the dishwasher and forget about it.