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kitchenaid artisan stand mixer: will it help me bake!!??

Am thinking of asking Santa for one this year. How much would I really use it? I've given up on baking anything with yeast in it; would the dough hook help me with that? Does it come with a grinding attachment? If you have one, how often and how do you use it?

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  1. I'm asking for one as well, but have done all my baking by hand. I think the key thing that the stand mixer will help me with keeping the mess to a minimum, allowing me to incorporate items without having to turn off the mixer first (like a hand held would) and having the power to get through some cookie doughs. Why are you so adverse to yeast recipes? To me, those have more to do with time and temperature (as does most baking), than mixing the products. Put it this way, if you put the wrong ingredient or too much/too little of an ingredient into the recipe. A stand mixer won't make much of a difference.. at least that is my thought. Though I will add that since I do not have a my own stand mixer, you should take what I say with a grain of salt. Is it a useful tool? I think so. I think I'm most confused by the question of will it help you bake and it seems that you want to know how often you would use one.

    24 Replies
    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

      thanks bf - when I bake, I measure everything accurately and even take the temp of the water I use, etc - it's not me disliking yeast recipes, it's the other way around. I have the time for the risings and I truly want to bake, but it isn't happening. Must be doing the kneading wrong even tho' I've studied on that too. Maybe it's the humidity here - on a dry day, it's 60% humidity. I am a very experienced cook, and have cooked for more than 40 years. Baking just eludes me. Was hoping the mixer would do the kneading and maybe that would do the trick. Also would love the grinder attachment. We'll see, I guess...

      1. re: bayoucook

        i dont think a stand mixer would actually help with that. as long as you are kneading to the right consistency and feel for bread it shouldnt really effect the final product too much i think. bread making i feel like is much more about knowing what a dough is supposed to look/feel like than being super scientific about it. especially in a really humid environment.

        i do think it would help with other baking projects though by making meringues, creaming,mixing thicker batters and doughs, etc faster and easier. but IMO bread baking is almost as much an art as it is a science. you have to have a feel for it and it can change a little bit day to day and recipe to recipe!

        1. re: bayoucook

          Grinder as in meat grinder? Yeah that would be cool. I think I'd use the pasta extruder. Either way see the other suggestions. I really like Peter Reinhart's Classic French Bread dough out of his Artisan Bread Everyday. Take a look at The Fresh Loaf website as well. I asked the question about yeast because a lot of people seem to frustrated with it or fearful of it. Also, skip the active dry yeast and go for rapid rise. I'm not sure there is a wrong way to knead dough. YOu've got the classic method of rolling and pushing and then you have some methods like just take the dough and slapping it down on the table. I do like the stretch and fold method which reminds me of a french fold (I think that is what I'm thinking of). So what are your most recent accounts of failure and the board may be able to help you along that path as well as what the artisan mixer will/won't help you with. Humidity may have an effect on you dough and rise, but I don't know about it killing yeast. Dough is definitely requires a sense of touch and look together. I've followed the same recipe twice and one time I'd have to add more water or flour and the other time not, but having done the same recipe a multitude of times I know what that dough should feel like before it goes into its slow fermentation. Now my oven is another story... but that is a different variable and one I'm assuming that is not causing your frustration.

          I came the question almost as if you were to substitute mixer with bread machine..

          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

            I check my oven temp every six months or so and set it accordingly. I have no feel for dough at all, I have kneaded the way I was shown in the books. I have never served a bread or roll made with yeast; in fact, it's become a custom to throw out my Thanksgiving yeast rolls every year - kind of a throw and duck with my family (smile). I have read that some people, like myself, are simply unable to bake bread. This year will be my fourth year to try it again....I DO have a bread machine that makes great bread, but - I want to experience it all by myself. I have the Bread Bible, guess I should read it - hehe....

            1. re: bayoucook

              be specific. what exactly is wrong with your bread.
              my breadbook has a whole troubleshooting section -- we can help!

              1. re: Chowrin

                Thank you. Can you stand by until I get back from Paris? Leaving tomorrow, back on the 16th.

                1. re: bayoucook

                  with baited breath. please provide pictures! ;-)

              2. re: bayoucook

                its not about STUDYING it. its about PRACTICING it.

                if you are just trying to make rolls once a year on thanksgiving, then of course you arent gunna have a feel for working with dough.

                a book can only teach you so much before you have to get into the kitchen and just do it a whole bunch of times until you get it right! dont give up though! keep trying!

                1. re: mattstolz

                  I understand. I have tried a variety of breads, have tried yeast rolls and breads probably two dozen times or more (just tried to start baking 2 years ago). When I get back from vacation, I'm going to really start working on it, hopefully with help from my chow friends.

                  1. re: bayoucook

                    its really worth the time and practice. freshly baked bread is wonderful. do you use a baking stone when you bake?

                    1. re: mattstolz

                      Yes, I did, on several occasions - a pizza stone thing, does that count? Hope y'all are still around when I get back from vacation!! This feels to me like I might learn something this time.

                      1. re: bayoucook

                        yup! was thinkin of a pizza stone. the pizza stone really helps with baking bread. a dutch oven works really well too

                        1. re: mattstolz

                          The success I had was with the Dutch oven recipe from cooks illustrated. What I want is French: baguettes, rolls, brioche....I heard or read somewhere that water is used to get the crust on the French bread. Does that sound right to you?

                          1. re: bayoucook

                            yup. alot of recipes use a water bath in the oven to help a bread form a nice crisp crust

                            i do want to point out that even though i may seem like im arguing against the purchase, i think its a great tool to have. i just think that having the feel for the dough and working with breads is going to help your breads far more than a machine (unless that machine is a bread machine... which i dont think is gunna get you the french, crusty breads you are looking for)

                            1. re: mattstolz

                              exactly! When I get back home, I intend to work with dough several times a week to try to get a feel for it.

                            2. re: bayoucook

                              french bread first,
                              then rolls
                              then brioche, which is really difficult to make. ;-)

                              1. re: Chowrin

                                Or make something brioche like .. like a challah which isn't hard at all.. though my braiding needs work.

                    2. re: mattstolz

                      And then after you do it.. you play around with it to see if adding more liquid or fermenting it longer or whatever gives you what you want.. It's really to some degree like learning anything.. I may make my first Indian meal and keep making it but eventually I'm going to want to play around with the spice and spiciness of the dish.

                      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                        See, I have that natural feel for regular cooking - rarely do I taste anything I'm cooking - I can tell by sight, smell, *feel* - will work on it for baking.

                    3. re: bayoucook

                      You're going to paris... Thats like one of the bread capitals of the world.. Seriously tour as many boulangeries as you can. I'm not sure where Piolaine's shop is but head there it is supposedly a mecca for bread..

                      I love the feeling of dough when it is as smooth as I think it should be. It's hard to explain. It's cool smooth pliable... Where I get frustrated is when books (which aren't gospel) say the bread should no longer be tacky or sticky (no the difference), but don't say if it is just keep doing this or add more flour.. I think most books now are good about saying this is what it should feel like and if not knead some more or add more flour. I've had some doughs that turned out okay but just never seemed to become "not sticky" during the kneading time.

                      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                        Yes, I love the breads of France - one reason I want to try to make them. This will be our 6th trip, wanted to see Paris lit up for Christmas; also taking a 7 night small ship cruise on the Seine. I hear it's freezing and snowing (!) there now. Also, as far as breads go, where I live is strongly influenced by the French and some excellent breads can be found here and in New Orleans. The nearest real French bread to me is about 40 minutes away in a direction I don't often go, so....vive la france!!!

                        1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                          Staying on the left bank, Montparnasse area, arrid. 14. Research shows many restaurants and shops there, plus a great jazz club.

                        2. re: bayoucook

                          Oh I was just saying that I recently moved to a new place and the oven has neither a light nor a window. The thermometer measure out okay to what the dial is set at but the bottoms of my recent bakings have been a bit darker than I'd like and that is with a silicone mat or parchment.

                        3. re: burgeoningfoodie

                          I have the Pasta extruder and it was a total waste of money. Buy the roller set, far more expensive and can only make flat pastas but great. Consider the Pro 600 Kitchen Aid, it is larger and the gears are all metal vs plastic in the current Artisans

                    4. if you like the bake, the kitchenaid mixer definitely makes things easier for you! but if you don't, it won't magically turn you into a master baker.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: edintern

                        I will never be a master baker, but I sure would love to make homemade sourdough french bread one day! Any foolproof recipes for it out there? Also want to make bagels, brioche, challah, English muffins.

                        1. re: bayoucook

                          "sourdough french bread"... make white french bread. Let sit out from 2-48 hours, depending on the sourness you like. Roll, proof, bake. voila! Why bother with the starter -- just extra fuss.

                          be very careful about making bagels in the mixer... stiff dough is hard on poor Kitchenaid. don't make the gears squeal.

                      2. The KitchenAid will definitely make your mixing and kneading easier. I use mine to bake all our own bread every week, plus pizza dough for Sunday afternoon football.

                        The new dough hook is really great. I also have the pasta rollers which function very well.

                        You should try the NY Times recipe for no-knead bread:

                        It's so easy a caveman could do it... or an 8 yr old...

                        America's Test Kitchen recipe for (Almost) No Knead Bread comes as close to a sourdough taste without all the work babysitting the starter. It's truly sublime!

                        Also, King Arthur Flour's website has a bunch of great info and recipes. Try their 100% Guaranteed recipes for bread-- they're pretty fool-proof.

                        Yeast bread is easy. I've found that too high a water temp can kill off the yeast, yet yeast is very forgiving of lower temps-- just takes more time. Also kneading long enough to develop the gluten structure is key. After those things, it's just a little flour, salt, sugar, water and oil and you're on your way!

                        Good luck.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: EdBakesBread

                          thanks so much, Ed - I will try the no-knead bread. I actually have a book on the subject and have tried cook's illustrated version using a dutch oven - it worked great - may get Patterson's book on baking - I also want to start making homemade pasta - should be an interesting new year of trying to bake for me - thanks for the help!

                        2. It won't make your bread better. It might make it worse because it's waaaay easier to knead the ever-loving snot out of it. I actually started making bread as an excuse to use the mixer but often just do it by hand.

                          We otherwise use it at least once a month, whether it's mashed potatoes, butter cream, just being super lazy with boxed cake mix, etc.

                          It does not come with a grinder, but you can get one. I like to use it. The pasta rollers are also nice, but pretty expensive.

                          1. An alternative to a Kitchenaid is to use a food processor.
                            I use a food processor for my yeast doughs.
                            I still hand knead for a few minutes. Mainly to get a feel for the dough and whether it needs more flour or water.

                            1. the first thing to help you bake.... is an oven!

                              12 Replies
                                  1. re: JRCann

                                    I'm (almost) ready! Just got back from Paris and had a wonderful, snowy, time. Ate some excellent French bread and pastries. Watched a brioche cooking class that made it look so easy. Still undecided about the mixer - I loved the way the baker just threw that brioche dough around and kneaded it When I get over jetlag and get rested, I will get to baking, and this time it's going to work. !!

                                    1. re: bayoucook

                                      That is the attitude. Do you take notes when you venture into your baking territory? I don't but since you have a cooking background and may have done so during that time... It may help to take notes and see where things may seemingly be going wrong. Again, I whole heartily recommend the classic french dough from Peter Reinhart's Artisan Bread everyday or checking out The Fresh Loaf and seeing if some of those recipes and suggested adjustments will work for you. I don't know much about actual brioche as the closest I've come is Challah. One other loaf that is really good is the Cinnamon Raisin swirl from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours.

                                      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                        You know, I've always taken notes on cooking and recipes, but never on baking. Thank you for reminding me. I have the Bread in Five Minutes (forget the title), should I get Reinhart's book as well? Maybe Greenspan's too - Santa needs to bring me something if I'm not going to get the stand mixer, right? Have had a horrible cold, so will be after the holidays before I start my baking plans. Thanks to everyone for their advice and help - hope you'll be here when I actually start the baking process (please?).

                                        1. re: bayoucook

                                          Before you buy.. try... see if the library has any books you are interested in.. I've got the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a day and have talked to Zoe via her site online. I've not tried the breads from it yet. Dorie's book you can preview online at google books website and I would also look into King Arther Flours book. These I've found at the library so check there first and see what they have before paying for it. Yeah we will be here.. definitely take notes... location matters as much as temp in the oven and house.. The baking/bread community is a great community.... we like to help people raise their skill as well as their breads.

                                          Just so you know.. I use either my hands (for kneading) or a dough whisk for mixing which does fairly well. I don't think my hand mixer could do dough and the food processor though it works well won't let me use my doughblade without a certain amount in it... at least that is what the instructions ay so it gets a bit messy.

                                          The two easiest breads I've made thus far are the Peter Reinhart classic french bread (not the lean dough) and Dories Raisin Swirl Bread with latter being the least time consuming only because you don't have to store it int he fridge overnight.

                                          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                            Thank you. Just bought the KA 4 1/2 qt. classic mixer with attachments for 120.88 - great last-minute price, huh? It has a "c" dough hook. Also ordered the Reinhart book - the review said he had developed a fold and press or some such method for kneading the bread - it arrives today. May be up to doing some baking this weekend, my cold is getting better.

                                            1. re: bayoucook

                                              It was 120.88 with the rebate, but they took another 22.00 off because the dough hook was missing. The darn thing is only going to cost me 98.00! and a new dough hook, of course. I'm happy.

                                              1. re: bayoucook

                                                That is pretty sweet. Just so long as it has enough power to handle tougher things like cookie dough.

                                                1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                  I think it does and it's very heavy. I rarely bake cookies and don't mind doing them by hand in small batches, anyway. I've learned many ways of using it on this discussion, looking forward to it.

                                            1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                              Very helpful, love the recipe, thanks again!!

                                1. I use my Kitchen Aid mixer to mix dough, and it can do a much better job for things like cookie dough than my slightly arthritic hands. I also use it to mix meatloaf, because putting my hands in very cold meat does not feel pleasant, and again, it does a great job of mixing evenly as long as you don't overwork whatever it is that it is mixing with the paddle attachment.

                                  I also use the meat grinder attachment regularly for making my own ground beef or veal. I am not too crazy about grinding pork, because that is a wet and gooey meat and it is harder to push through and clean up afterward, but the grinder enables me to make the best hamburgers in town because they taste like sirloin or brisket, or whatever it is I am grinding, and not like stale meat in store packaging. Go for it. One of the best purchase I ever made.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: RGC1982

                                    Chill your Pork almost to freezing to avoid the gooey quality you note then grind it

                                  2. mixer helps with mixing. seems obvious? also stretches gluten strands. but you need a lattice for proper efficient rising, and that takes hand kneading...

                                    1. honestly, they're so useful I think anyone who cooks would love one. I've given a few as gifts and 10+ years later the recipients still tell me how much they love them.

                                      From mixing cookie dough to whisking fresh whipped cream....they're so useful (as is the killer bowl with the handle (that I use all the time). Also they evenly distribute ingredients and that makes for great cookie dough, meatloaf or whatever you use it for.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: masha bousha

                                        oh - I would love to be your friend! Very nice gifts ;-)

                                        1. re: masha bousha

                                          Look for the aftermarket paddle with rubber blades to clean the bowl sides. I finally broke down and bought one for mine this summer and it is great. No more stopping and scraping down the sides. Spare bowls are handy also, I got two off craigslist for a ridiculous price.

                                        2. We gave a friend her first Kitchenaid for Christmas. The next Easter when she made Pashka (Ukrainian Easter Bread), it came out higher and lighter than previous years. So I'd say yes, it will make you a better baker.

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: pdxgastro

                                            she must have made kulich, which is flour based, rather than pashka, which is cheese based.

                                            1. re: justanotherpenguin

                                              Do you mean the Ukrainian word Kolach, which is a round sweet bread? For Christmas we Ukrianians have a Kolach on the table for our 12 dish Christmas Eve supper.

                                              1. re: justanotherpenguin

                                                perhaps there is a difference depending on which part of the ukraine. my ukrainian grandparents on mother's side were both born near taganrog around 1890. came to the us in 1950 and died around 1970. last name overchenko - very common. they referred to the easter bread as kulich, and the molded cheese as paskha. they did not use the term kolach - though our serbian friends did, and did not call paskha - paska.

                                                1. re: justanotherpenguin

                                                  You need to check a map as well as a dictionary. Taganrog is in Russia not Ukraine.
                                                  "Taganrog (Russian: Таганрог, [təɡʌnˈrok]) is a seaport city in Rostov Oblast, Russia, located on the north shore of Taganrog Bay (Sea of Azov), a few km west of the mouth of the River Don." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taganrog

                                                  Kulich is a Russia word for a bread. Paskha is a Russia word for a cheese dish served at Easter.
                                                  Please check any map of Russia and any Russian dictionary.

                                                  Kolach is a Ukrainian word for a braided round bread. Paska (please notice the spelling) is a Ukrianian word for Ukrainian Easter bread. Please check any Ukrainian dictionary or cookbook for verification.

                                                  1. re: LidaK

                                                    spasibo, i appreciate the input. please note that in my post my very first statement was that i recognize the fact that there are differences as to various parts of the ukraine. i also stated that they came from an area "near" taganrog. they actually came from a village northwest of that city.

                                                    in 1890, and for the previous millenium or so, an independent ukraine did not exist, it had been a part of russia for over a thousand years (with a couple of short exceptions). when russia accepted orthodoxy in 988ad, the "russian" capital city of kiev was used for the ceremonies. so around 1890 it was all russia.

                                                    that being said, i am very well aware that there are differences of tradition within the geographical boundaries of the ukraine. i am also aware that the borders have changed many times over the millenia.

                                                    what i stated was what my maternal grandparents believed. with a name like "overchenko" it is difficult to believe that the family was anything but ukrainian. my father's side, which came from an area not far to the east, was completely russian/don cossack. i have a photo from 1915 of my dad in cossack uniform.

                                                    so all i am attesting to is how my ukrainian side of the family referred to things. i understand that there are geographical and cultural and language differences.

                                              2. re: pdxgastro

                                                The correct word in Ukrainian for Easter Bread is Paska not PASHKA.

                                              3. i received one as a gift over five years ago. it is one of the very few things i would run out of a burning house with. i absolutely love my KA. i bake about once a week and am so much more efficient with a KA than with a hand mixer (i can't even imagine!).

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: lilaki

                                                  a handmixer is called a spoon ;-)