Kitchen Stand Mixer Suggestions

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Alf 101
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Kitchen Stand Mixer Suggestions

Post by Alf 101 » Mon Apr 28, 2014 1:42 pm

I'm wondering if anyone can comment on purchasing a stand mixer for your kitchen, or rather, the utility of having one and your selection. I think it was of great disappointment for my mother, when we got married recently, that we didn't want one. At the time this seemed too traditional of a gift, we would really rather have help funding an excellent trip, and we really didn't have the counter space in our kitchen.

Lately, however, I've become increasingly interested in making my own bread, hamburger buns, and the like. I've found many of the recipes call for a stand mixer, that it saves you from adding too much flour in the kneading process, and results in a better loaf. My mother doesn't live very far away, so every week I stop by, bring my dog to run around with hers, and use the stand mixer.

I have figured out where we have space for one, and it may be getting to the point where I should either buy one or I'll get one as a gift. So I have a few questions:

1. For those who own one, is this something they regularly use? Does it give you utility and value, or does it gather dust?

2. I've only ever used a stand mixer to make bread products, and the only attachment I've used is the dough hook. Have others found expanded use, or is this pretty much it -- the best and primary use? I don't anticipate making a lot of angel food cakes.

3. Any suggestions as to what model to select. I believe the KitchenAid makes the archetypical ones, and offers an Artisan models (325 watt motor) and a Professional (575 watt). There is a $100+ difference between the two, which shrinks in importance if one is more durable over time, and grows in importance if performance is comparable. Some of you may own one of these and can comment. Also other companies make kitchen stand mixers, that some of you might have and believe offer better value.

4. Is there a prime season to buy one? I told my mother, yesterday when she hinted at this, that you always want to wait until the Christmas shopping season for the lowest prices. I'm wondering if others have seen whether that's true. I have seen these on sale in a number of places lately; summer isn't generally the peak season for home baking.

As I began to investigate this, the more I've felt out of my depth. This forum has a great range of knowledgeable people, and I appreciate any help and insight you are willing to share.

oxothuk
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Re: Kitchen Stand Mixer Suggestions

Post by oxothuk » Mon Apr 28, 2014 1:56 pm

My wife and I have had one (KitchenAid) for 36 years, i.e. since we got married. I don't think they've changed much over that time, and maybe not the 36 years before that.

Ours gets used mostly for bread and cakes. It has a food-processor attachment that we used to use quite a bit, until we got a dedicated food processor. We also have a meat grinder attachment that we've used occasionally to make upscale hamburgers.

A couple of years ago we got an ice-cream freezer attachment that we use a LOT during the summer. I'm no longer impressed by Haagen-Dazs or Ben&Jerry's.
Last edited by oxothuk on Mon Apr 28, 2014 1:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

bungalow10
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Re: Kitchen Stand Mixer Suggestions

Post by bungalow10 » Mon Apr 28, 2014 1:57 pm

I have a Kitchenaid stand mixer, it's about 14 years old. It's the original model (the Classic, 275W, 4.5 quart), before they started doing all these fancy ones. We have a family of five and sometimes I wish I had a larger one, but not that often. It fits nicely on the counter. I also have the meat grinder attachment, that I use several times a year for venison, and a vegetable juicer thing I use in the summer when canning tomatoes. I make about 50-75% of all the bread we eat, plus use it for all other baking, some pasta, mixing meat for meatloaf or meatballs, etc.

My mixer is used multiple times/week and I would replace it immediately if it broke down.

You can get the Classic for less than $200.
Last edited by bungalow10 on Mon Apr 28, 2014 1:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Random Poster
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Re: Kitchen Stand Mixer Suggestions

Post by Random Poster » Mon Apr 28, 2014 1:57 pm

My wife has a Kitchenaid stand mixer---I don't know the model name but it is the basic one with a metal bowl and a hinged mixer head (the higher end ones have a glass bowl, which is very heavy just by itself and might be unwieldy when it is full of various ingredients, and the even-higher end ones have a lifting bowl mechanism).

She likes it quite a lot and was using it quite regularly to make all sorts of desserts. I don't think that we've ever tried to make any sort of bread product with it (except for banana bread, but that's really just a dessert in my view). It is about 2 years old now. Within about 4 months of buying it, I gained around 5 to 10 pounds. Since then, I've had my intake of treats strictly rationed and my weight gain has been eliminated.

From what I could tell at the time, the better Kitchenaids are the older ones--which were made with metal gears and stouter components. We haven't had any disasters with ours, but if there is a lot of stuff in the mixing bowl and if it is a thick mixture, the motor doesn't sound too terribly strong. I've also been told that the wattage of the motor is irrelevant and misleading information, but I don't know enough about electricity to know if there is any accuracy in that.

As for when to buy, I guess the best time is when they are on sale. They are (as you indicate) popular wedding gifts, so perhaps in May or June there will be a rash of sales?

DFrank
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Re: Kitchen Stand Mixer Suggestions

Post by DFrank » Mon Apr 28, 2014 2:10 pm

We have a Kitchenaid mixer that we "inherited" from my mother in law who didn't use it regularly. We use it at least several times per month. I do use it with the dough hook for kneading bread and pizza dough, and it works very well for that purpose. I also use it for any recipe that uses the creaming method (creaming the fat and sugar together before adding other ingredients). For that purpose I'd typically use the paddle.

The model we have is an older version. I'm not sure it's available any longer, but it's somewhat lower power than their larger models. One of my bread recipes is a very heavy, wet dough, and even our mixer has no problem kneading that dough, so it's not obvious to me that you need the largest or most powerful model.

Dave
Dave

barnaclebob
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Re: Kitchen Stand Mixer Suggestions

Post by barnaclebob » Mon Apr 28, 2014 2:20 pm

I've never regretted buying the next step up in power or quality when purchasing equipment or tools.

I have the 575 watt kitchenaid and its seems to work well although doesn't get used that much now that we have a stand alone meat grinder and fruit strainer. Its a bit heavy to pull out of the cabinet though.

Luke Duke
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Re: Kitchen Stand Mixer Suggestions

Post by Luke Duke » Mon Apr 28, 2014 2:59 pm

I've been very happy with my Kitchenaid mixer. I use it weekly to make my own pizza dough and a couple of times a year to make butter and to grind meat. I'm pretty sure that it was at least 15 years old when I inherited it 10 years ago and it's still going strong.

mervinj7
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Re: Kitchen Stand Mixer Suggestions

Post by mervinj7 » Mon Apr 28, 2014 3:05 pm

We got a Kitchenaid Artisan series from our wedding registry and it's been working out great. My wife uses to mix dough for cakes and breads. I've used it along with the meat grinder attachment to make sausages several times.

BarryZuckerkorn
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Re: Kitchen Stand Mixer Suggestions

Post by BarryZuckerkorn » Mon Apr 28, 2014 3:12 pm

I bought my wife a 600 series KitchenAid about 1.5 years ago. It is difficult to personally testify to its longevity due to the relative newness of the purchase. However, I regularly see KitchenAid mixers in professional kitchens around DC, if that means anything. Typically, you also see the large Hobart mixers at pizza shops and bakeries.

We use ours regularly for a variety of reasons: making pasta, grinding meat, bread dough, cookie dough, marshmallows, and cakes. The 600 series was worth the upgrade with a better motor. The better motor is really handy with bread dough (as you mentioned would likely be the primary use). The 600 series also has a larger capacity. There is a smaller bowl attachment and whisk available, if needed. We use that for smaller batches. The bowl lift also provides some utility if you ever need to keep the batter/bowl chilled while in use.

I was on the fence about which to purchase between the 600 and the Artisan, but most of the reviews I read indicated that if you could afford the better one, then you’d be happy getting it. I have to agree with that assessment. Good luck and happy baking.
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Snapper
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Re: Kitchen Stand Mixer Suggestions

Post by Snapper » Mon Apr 28, 2014 3:23 pm

Kitchen Aid Pro here. Terrific mixer. You will not regret buying. They do occupy counter space but well worth it. Buy at Costco.

dylanh
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Re: Kitchen Stand Mixer Suggestions

Post by dylanh » Mon Apr 28, 2014 3:40 pm

I make a good bit of bread (bagels, pizza dough, french bread, etc.) with a Kitchenaid Artisan and it has required repair more than once. Its just not substantial enough for actual bread making. It bounces all over the counter and has to be held down. If you really think you will make bread more than once a month, I recommend you buy the heavier duty Kitchenaid or preferally move up to an actual professional brand device.


Good luck!

nerdymarketer
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Re: Kitchen Stand Mixer Suggestions

Post by nerdymarketer » Mon Apr 28, 2014 3:57 pm

I looked into this pretty deeply last year.

Here's the scoop:

1) Kitchenaid was originally made by a company called Hobart. They built industrial grade equipment.

2) Hobart didn't make much money in the consumer market with Kitchenaid, but they'd built a rock-solid reputation for reliability, so they sold the brand to GE/Whirlpool.

3) GE/Whirlpool has slowly gutted some of the reliability, for example a while back they swapped some parts to plastic that blew out all the time (don't buy a used Kitchenaid from late 90's I think was the time period), although they've tightened it up a bit.

4) Hobart still makes mixers for the restaurant market--if you dig deeply, many really serious home bakers use Hobart N-50's (http://www.hobartcorp.com/products/food ... art-mixer/). These things are built like tanks, and sell for $2K new, although you can get them used for $500-$800 on ebay. These things have a motor that's 1/6 horsepower if I remember right--blows kitchenaid out of the water--seriously, you could knead bricks with these things. One negative is they are a bit heavier than Kitchenaids, so not something you want to lift in/out of a cupboard.

5) I'm not an electrical engineer, but if I remember my reading aright, Kitchenaid power ratings in watts is a bit misleading... you should really care about a motor's output power (horsepower), not the input power that goes into it (watts). However, within the Kitchenaid lineaup, watts is a good enough relative measure of power. But they don't rate them in horsepower because they wouldn't be that powerful.

6) Kitchenaids use a rheostat to adjust the motor speed, meaning they reduce input power to the motor, so at lower speeds, like when you're mixing heavy bread dough, you're actually getting less output power from the motor. Hobarts have an actual manual transmission, meaning as you slow the motor down, the torque increases because you're putting the same input power into the motor, so you're getting around the same output power, just at a slower rotational speed.

7) For most consumers who don't use their mixer that much, a Kitchenaid will do just fine. But If you expect to use it 10+ years, and especially if you plan to do stickier things like bread or pizza dough that take more power and tend to burn out Kitchenaids over time, you might consider a used Hobart.

8) You can regularly get deals on Kitchenaids that are 40%-50% off--search SlickDeals.net for "kitchenaid" and you'll find postings from various users on the current best deals from various sites around the net.

8) After doing all this research, I bought a great condition used Hobart for my wife for Christmas. I was so excited--I mean, who doesn't want a manual transmission in their kitchen mixer? My wife--who has a MS in engineering from Stanford and is normally a very rational person--took one look at it, and decided she wanted a Kitchenaid because they offered prettier colors. :oops:

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NORDO
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Re: Kitchen Stand Mixer Suggestions

Post by NORDO » Mon Apr 28, 2014 4:04 pm

We got the higher-end Kitchen Aid Pro Series model (this one, I believe) for our wedding. Don't use it a ton (some things are just easier/quicker/less to clean with a hand mixer) but it absolutely serves its purpose. Great for serious baking (Christmas cookies, etc.) and anything that needs extended mixing or timed additions of ingredients. When you need it, you'll appreciate it.

Although we haven't bought one yet, we've also had one of these SideSwipe blades on our shopping list for a while. Anyone here happen to own one?

Pro tip: if you ever need to shred chicken, toss the forks, throw it in the stand mixer, and turn it on for about 15-20 seconds. Perfectly shredded with none of the work.

-----------------------

If you're really interested in homemade bread, I can't recommend a bread machine highly enough. We have a Panasonic SD-YD250.

I'll be the first to admit I thought it was the most worthless thing on our wedding registry, certain to be relegated to the corner of a closet within months of the wedding.

I think we've used it as much as any other gift we received. Love the thing.

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Swamproot
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Re: Kitchen Stand Mixer Suggestions

Post by Swamproot » Mon Apr 28, 2014 4:18 pm

I'm not one for status symbols BUT I dig that people who come on into my kitchen see the Kitchen Aid on the countertop, along with my Anova Soux Vide Immersion Circulator, among other things. I once saw an ad for a cover that had these pockets for the different attachments and could only think "who would want to cover up their Kitchen Aid mixer?". I have a friend that leaves her Sunbeam stand mixer out on her counter and I tell her in my faux-snobbery "awww. That's so quaint."

But in the interest of offering something to the conversation in addition to my culinary elitism, you can find them refurbed for a little less coin.

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bottlecap
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Re: Kitchen Stand Mixer Suggestions

Post by bottlecap » Mon Apr 28, 2014 4:33 pm

My wife, her mother and my mother have the Artisan Kitchenaid. They love them. My mom makes bread and uses it a lot more than anyone else. Bed Bath and Beyond's 20% off coupon is good for it, I think. My wife says if you don't know what you need, the Artisan should be fine.

Good luck,

JT

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AustenNut
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Re: Kitchen Stand Mixer Suggestions

Post by AustenNut » Mon Apr 28, 2014 5:57 pm

I'll put a plug in for my stand mixer, the Cuisinart SM-55. It's the bottom of the line as far their mixers go, but it's worked well for me. It's 800 watts, has a timer shut-off feature if you need very exact timings, and some other cool features. I've had the mixer for four years and used it for making bread, meringues, frosting, and other baked goods. It's done everything very well, no shaking or rattling.

It was unusual for me to pick up such an item without extensive research, but my local Macy's had a return on clearance, plus an additional 50% off, as they don't normally carry it within their store. So I checked Amazon to see if it was well-reviewed (it was) and picked it up since I knew that I'd never find anything at a better price. Knowing what I now do, I'd probably go for the Cuisinart over the Kitchen Aid even with both at regular price. Just wanted to add another log to the fire.

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Re: Kitchen Stand Mixer Suggestions

Post by tomd37 » Mon Apr 28, 2014 6:03 pm

After forty-eight years of marriage and the purchase of a Kitchen Aide stand mixer I don't think there is any other better product. I must admit that the first unit finally deteriorated in that it finally started leaking lubricant. With that we purchased another unit and look forward to many more years of service from the new unit. Maybe we and our marriage will outlive it. ;-)
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Re: Kitchen Stand Mixer Suggestions

Post by sport » Mon Apr 28, 2014 6:32 pm

You can get a Kitchenaid 600 watt pro mixer at Costco for less than $300 IIRC. That would be a very good model for about the same price as a lesser model elsewhere.
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Use what the pros use

Post by davebarnes » Mon Apr 28, 2014 7:47 pm

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TheGreyingDuke
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Re: Kitchen Stand Mixer Suggestions

Post by TheGreyingDuke » Mon Apr 28, 2014 8:07 pm

It depends what your major use is. I bought a Kitchen Aid, the high power one, and found it could not knead any large quantity bread dough, especially one with 50% of whole grain flour.

I went with the electrolux asistent, now re-badged here:

http://www.amazon.com/Verona-Assistent- ... B009RP1R6K

it plows through 16 pounds of dough without complaint. If your retirements are light duty, then the MA might work, otherwise look for the Assistent. I think i bought it for around $400 about seven years ago.
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armeliusc
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Re: Kitchen Stand Mixer Suggestions

Post by armeliusc » Mon Apr 28, 2014 8:21 pm

I bought my wife KitchenAid Professional 600 series Stand-mixer about 5 years ago. It turned out to be one of the best investment I ever made. DW had been making bread regularly prior to that, and had ruined a couple inexpensive mixer (the only ones we could afford before since we were in grad school). Bread-making was a chore since she had to do part of the kneading by hand.

Almost immediately after my first job I bought her the mixer. Bread-making then became more fun, and I got regular, better, all kind bread varieties :). Mainly we use the dough hook. We like to whole-wheat, which results in heavier dough to knead. The kitchenaid mixer has no problem seeing regular use more than once a week for bread, and sometime extra for cakes, etc.

If you need stand mixer and use it regularly, might as well get a good one that lasts.

jeff1949
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Re: Kitchen Stand Mixer Suggestions

Post by jeff1949 » Tue Apr 29, 2014 9:20 am

FWIW I hated my Kitchen Aide mixer. I just did not like the way the beaters oscillate. I grew up with a mixer where the blades just went round and round and did not oscillate. I got it on sale for $150 and sold it two years later for $95.

I now own a Sunbeam and even though it is basically a POS as to quality at least the blades stay put.

lol

Alf 101
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Re: Kitchen Stand Mixer Suggestions

Post by Alf 101 » Tue Apr 29, 2014 10:15 am

This is all great food for thought. One question I do have is about vibration. My mother has a KitchenAid 5 quart Artisan model. I've noticed when you bring it up to kneading speeds (say 4), the unit vibrates and shows a tendency to walk. The vibrations suggest to me something should break, though she's had and used this machine for years. More concerning is the walking. I'd like to leave this on the counter and return in 10 minutes, and not have to stand there to prevent it from pitching off the counter.

Have others seen or had this problem? Do you see this problem as much as with the KitchenAid Pro Series, which is several pounds heavier? Other brands and models?

I hadn't considered a Hobart, and as much as I like the idea of a manual transmission, a quick web search suggests these weigh in at about 10x the price. I may keep my eyes open if a screaming deal presents itself, but as I'm probably looking at receiving one as a gift, and would be steering my mother, so am confining my search to more of what you might find at a big box store -- including Sam's Club and Costco.

sscritic
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Re: Kitchen Stand Mixer Suggestions

Post by sscritic » Tue Apr 29, 2014 10:27 am

jeff1949 wrote:FWIW I hated my Kitchen Aide mixer. I just did not like the way the beaters oscillate. I grew up with a mixer where the blades just went round and round and did not oscillate. I got it on sale for $150 and sold it two years later for $95.

I now own a Sunbeam and even though it is basically a POS as to quality at least the blades stay put.

lol
Sure there is!

My mixer is from almost 45 years ago, when the word mixer meant Mixmaster. No bread hook, no oscillating head, no power lift take off, just two beaters and two stainless steel bowls. I made a cake last week. Today's may be a POS, but 45 years ago they weren't.

jeff1949
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Re: Kitchen Stand Mixer Suggestions

Post by jeff1949 » Tue Apr 29, 2014 10:52 am

sscritic wrote:
jeff1949 wrote:FWIW I hated my Kitchen Aide mixer. I just did not like the way the beaters oscillate. I grew up with a mixer where the blades just went round and round and did not oscillate. I got it on sale for $150 and sold it two years later for $95.

I now own a Sunbeam and even though it is basically a POS as to quality at least the blades stay put.

lol
Sure there is!

My mixer is from almost 45 years ago, when the word mixer meant Mixmaster. No bread hook, no oscillating head, no power lift take off, just two beaters and two stainless steel bowls. I made a cake last week. Today's may be a POS, but 45 years ago they weren't.
Yes! That is the one I grew up with watching my mom make cakes from scratch. We even named a cake after her. Loved that mixer! :happy

dylanh
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Re: Kitchen Stand Mixer Suggestions

Post by dylanh » Tue Apr 29, 2014 10:57 am

Alf 101 wrote:This is all great food for thought. One question I do have is about vibration. My mother has a KitchenAid 5 quart Artisan model. I've noticed when you bring it up to kneading speeds (say 4), the unit vibrates and shows a tendency to walk. The vibrations suggest to me something should break, though she's had and used this machine for years. More concerning is the walking. I'd like to leave this on the counter and return in 10 minutes, and not have to stand there to prevent it from pitching off the counter.

Have others seen or had this problem? Do you see this problem as much as with the KitchenAid Pro Series, which is several pounds heavier? Other brands and models?

I hadn't considered a Hobart, and as much as I like the idea of a manual transmission, a quick web search suggests these weigh in at about 10x the price. I may keep my eyes open if a screaming deal presents itself, but as I'm probably looking at receiving one as a gift, and would be steering my mother, so am confining my search to more of what you might find at a big box store -- including Sam's Club and Costco.
Yes mine vibrates and "walks" and it has broken, adn the walking got worse until some of the plastic parts on the inside broke. Walking is annoying because you have to stand next to the thing if you are kneading bread for more than a minute or two or it will walk its way right off the counter. Breaking is espensive.

Sounsd like the pro series would be better, but when my artisan breaks the next time, I'm going to pay the money for an actual commercial rated mixer from a better brand.

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Re: Kitchen Stand Mixer Suggestions

Post by bungalow10 » Tue Apr 29, 2014 11:02 am

Alf 101 wrote: Have others seen or had this problem? Do you see this problem as much as with the KitchenAid Pro Series, which is several pounds heavier? Other brands and models?
My Classic series, which is lighter (I presume) and smaller, does not have this issue. I've overloaded it quite a bit and made some pretty heavy doughs and never experienced any walking.
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NORDO
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Re: Kitchen Stand Mixer Suggestions

Post by NORDO » Tue Apr 29, 2014 10:52 pm

Alf 101 wrote:Have others seen or had this problem? Do you see this problem as much as with the KitchenAid Pro Series, which is several pounds heavier? Other brands and models?
Haven't encountered such things with our Pro model.

It's definitely not light - in fact, it takes a little effort to move around the counter intentionally!

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AustenNut
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Re: Kitchen Stand Mixer Suggestions

Post by AustenNut » Wed Apr 30, 2014 7:56 am

I haven't experienced the walking with my Cuisinart mixer, and I've used it to make whole wheat bread doughs.

welx23
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Re: Kitchen Stand Mixer Suggestions

Post by welx23 » Wed Apr 30, 2014 12:27 pm

I have the KitchenAid Artisan model. It has been a good addition and gets some use, maybe 2-3 times per month. It would get more use if I were doing more baking. I use it primarily for making dough, mixing cake and brownie-type batters, and making pasta (have the pasta attachment). As others have mentioned, if you're making dough, the Artisan model doesn't do that great of a job -- I find it vibrates and struggles a bit when mixing with the dough hook. If I were a more frequent baker, I would look into a higher powered model. But, overall, I've enjoyed mine and it's a nice appliance to have.

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Phineas J. Whoopee
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Re: Kitchen Stand Mixer Suggestions

Post by Phineas J. Whoopee » Wed Apr 30, 2014 2:56 pm

One of my trophies from the financial crisis is a KitchenAid Pro 600 (the other is an 8-place set of fine china, as yet unused but it was so cheap!). I acquired both at an online liquidation sale of the remaining inventory of a home products retailer that went bust.

I've used it for several things, and even bought the meat grinder attachment, but nearly all its usage now is breadmaking. It has a better dough hook than the Artisan model. The bowl's kind of big for my needs, but if I make two loaves and freeze one it works well. It's plenty powerful enough for 100% whole wheat. Its pizza crust's pretty mean, too. I've made and kneeded bread manually in the past, but in practical terms I'd be buying nearly all my bread without that machine.

The motor, at least from that time, is all-metal, unlike the partially-plastic ones of the, at least from that time, Artisans.

It does vibrate, doesn't walk, makes a lot of noise, and I like staying near it while it's turned on.

It takes up counter space that otherwise I could use for a toaster or toaster oven. I like the bread I make better than commercial bread toasted, so it's a fair tradeoff for me.

PJW

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