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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

                              ordering:
                              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:
                        http://video.nytimes.com/video/2006/1...

                        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.