Melodramatic title notwithstanding, here's what's happening with our Kitchenaid mixer. We were given an "Artisan" for Christmas last year. In addition to the mixer, we also got the pasta roller set.
The first idiosyncrasy I noticed was that when using the hook to make a thick pasta dough in accordance with the recipe helpfully included inside the pasta roller book, the Kitchenaid began to moan and stall like a union steward the day before a strike. "RRR-rrr-R---Rr---RR-r"
The hook would pin the stiff dough against the side of the bowl and the machine would stall. A couple of times since then, making similar doughs, the thing has actually stalled out completely. Though tempted to let it sit there and decide its own fate, I have intervened, shutting it off and rearranging stuff before immolation commenced.
Then, the other day, I start the thing up to make a batter and next thing I know, the whole powerhead is knocking up and down and the mixer blade is banging the bottom of the bowl like a steel drum. Turned out that the hinge pin in the back of the thing had worked its way out and the weight of the powerhead was being supported entirely by the mad dancing of the mixer paddle.
So I fixed that by shoving the pin back in, but now, there's this:
Dough is no longer content to remain in the bowl. I have lately taken a shine to baking basic sourdough bread. Sourdough has only flour, water, salt, and starter culture. It does not use, according to the recipes I am using, any sort of fats or oils. I am trying to remain true to that notion at this stage of experimentation, but I am having trouble doing so. My recipe starts with a sponge, a mixture of starter culture, flour, and enough water to make what is really a thick batter. You let that sit until it begins to bubble like crazy, then you add more flour and salt and knead it until you get a nice, elastic, dough.
Well, the raison dêtre for this thing is that it knead the dough for its lazy master. It doesn't. What it does do is turn the beautiful dough into a snarling cobra whose only goal is to climb the hook and eat the grease issuing from the gears. Yup, the dough jumps right over the guard and climbs the maypole.
Panic stop. Pull the greasy dough off the spindle and shove the rest of the mix back in the bowl, reset, and the whole thing happens again. Today I tried lifting the powerhead up a bit to see if it might help. It does, but then the machine doesn't knead, it just spins the cobra by its head.
I am beginning to find this machine annoying. Is there a basic weakness of the design when it comes to handling fat-poor/absent doughs or am I an idiot?
Call 'em. Complain. Ask what they can do to fix it?
Don't hesitate to start a forceful dialog with the people there in Customer Service.
Did you try "calibrating" the bowl setting? I wonder if that could be the source of the problem.
On the Kitchenaid forum there were several complaints about mixing pasta which sound much like your experience. I do my pasta dough in my processor which is much faster and more efficient. To get the right texture for pasta, the dough is very hard, it feels almost like cement with no give. That's hard for any mixer to work. The processor with the slicing blade gets the dough nicely blended with little fuss and I finish it by hand.
As for soft bread dough climbing the dough hook, that is fairly common. I don't know if the Artisan has the bowl lifter or not. If it does, you can lower the bowl while mixing which usually will pull the dough off the hook. I saw Steve Sullivan (Acme Bread) demonstrate this when he was a guest on Baking with Julia. It works like a charm. If you have the hinged powerhead, I guess you have to stop the motor and pull the dough off.
I had that problem with the dough climbing the hook. I solved it by dividing the batch in half and doing it twice. I hope that's a possibility.