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Another stand mixer question

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I have read a number of threads here about stand mixers, from recent to back to 2004. I admit I'm leaning towards a KA, partially as that is all I remember growing up, but it seems they may not be what they used to be :rolleyes:. I am not a serious enough cook to spend a huge amount of money on this tool, but I'm willing to fork out what it takes to get the right tool for the job. I thought I was trying to decide between the Artisan and the Pro 600, but then I found a "Pro 500" on the KA website (450 watts, 5 qt, bowl lift design). I'm also not wedded to getting a KA, but its where I'm leaning out of familiarity.

So.......if I make bread only 6-12 times a year, only a couple loaves at a time, can I get away with the Artisan? I dont mind doing some kneading by hand (I have never had my own stand mixer before), but I still want the thing to work well. Does the C-hook work ok, compared to the spiral type?

Any comments on the Pro 500?

Are the Artisan models still having trouble with plastic gears?

How about Cuisniart SM 55?

Thanks!

Anne
post #2 of 10

I bought a KitchenAid

I ordered a KitchenAid Pro 600 stand mixer on Saturday and its going to be here today. My wife and I are hardly professional cooks, but we always like to get the best stuff so that it lasts the longest. I'm sure that its more than enough mixer for our needs.

I don't know what kind of price range you are looking at. Amazon had the basic "Nickel Pearl" color on sale for $269 on Saturday, so we essentially got a pro model for the entry level artisan price. There are about 20 different colors to pick from (each with a different price, probably depending on stock and popularity), but now Amazon has all colors of the Pro line between $339 and $400. To me, $339 is still a dang good price on the high end machine that will last a long time, and there are a few colors offered at that. Especially since they've fixed the plastic problem on the pro line.
post #3 of 10
Given your stated requirements, the Artisan should do you fine.

The Pro 500 is a stronger machine, true. But in practical terms (i.e., the way you'll be using it) the only substantial difference is that the Artisan is a tilt-head and the Pro 5 is a bowl lift. And I'm not sure I'd mix more than one batch of bread dough at a time in the Artisan.

That might affect your choice. It certainly was a factor for me when I bought my Pro 6. I have an antipathy towards tilt-head mixers.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #4 of 10
I've been a KA guy since forever. That means I've got all the attachments, and even though my Pro 600 isn't as durable as whatever we bought 20 years ago was, I'm stuck with KA. Stuck or not, I like my KA (well like it again, since getting it repaired), use it frequently to make some difficult bread doughs, etc., and feel it's worth a recommendation.

I wouldn't let the current infrequency of your bread making stand in the way of buying a better mixer. They breed baking in the same way teens breed anxiety. If you've got the room and the money for one of the larger ones, get it.

If you take the sum of all reviews, weight them for the reputation of their source (Cooks Illustrated, Consumer Reprts: pretty good but not great, and so on) then, supposedly there's not a heck of a lot of difference between the KA's of various sizes and prices and their similarly sized and priced Cuisinart and DeLonghi counterparts. Supposedly Viking is comparatively overpriced.

The "big differences" in daily use? Supposedly the Cuisinart, Viking and DeLonghi don't reach the bottoms and sides of their workbowls as well as the KA, and for that matter the bottom of their workbowls are hard to get at by spoon or hand. But the KA has a problem with dough crawling up the kneading hook (true dat, it's not a supposed problem, it happens with big loads especially with the old "C" hook). Look. The differences are really very nuanced. All four brands do what they're supposed to do, and when it comes down to it looks and price are probably the biggest difference. Don't make yourself nuts trying to choose between four very similar choices -- all of which are good.

They're expensive and sometimes they do break. Even if you buy a machine from the best manufacturing run from whatever's the currently most reliable line -- yours may break. It happens. So, just make sure you buy from someone with really generous replacement and repair guaranties. Bed Bath and Beyond leaps to mind, but there are other stores as well. It's worth the extra few bucks and the drive time to know that if there's a problem you can take care of it locally and without undue sturm und drang. I happen to live twenty minutes away from my local, authorized KA repair center. Had I lived three hours my KA attitude might not be so cheerful.

If you're not in a huge hurry, the terrible economy means that Santa's going to bring some pre Christmas sales with meaningful discounts. We can only imagine what the post Christmas retail environment will look like, but the smart money says buyers will be driving it. If it's possible to make it through the holidays without one of these incredbily useful for entertaining machines, hold off until January.

Good luck,
BDL
post #5 of 10
>But the KA has a problem with dough crawling up the kneading hook (true dat, it's not a supposed problem, it happens with big loads especially with the old "C" hook). <

My Pro 600 came with the newer S shaped dough hook. And it happens with that one, too.

Seems to be more of a problem with the wetter doughs. F'rinstance, I made a foccacia last week, and the dough climbed all over the hook. Even got onto the control arm before I realized what was happening.

I haven't experienced it, particularly, with big loads, unless it was a sticky dough.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #6 of 10
I plan on buying a KA mixer in the near future and it will probably be the Pro 600 model for several reasons. I would rather go larger now and not wished I had later. Also with the pricing available currently you can pick up the better model for what you use to pay for the Artisan. Finally I like all the great gadgets you can buy for the KA mixers.

Having said all that I think the last reason I would buy one is to mix bread dough. I've been baking bread for a little over a month by hand, several times a week, and I don't mind working the dough by hand in the least. As a matter of fact I think it gives you a good feel for the end product you're looking for. I do think they're very helpful when it comes to other doughs and batters. I'm sure the virtual holiday cookie machine I'm married to will greatly appreciate the time and energy savings a KA can provide.

If you can wait until after the holidays they'll probably pay you to take one off their hands.

Willie
post #7 of 10
Kneading by hand has all sorts of benefits, Willie. But some of us can't do it for various reasons---arthritis, flexer tendenitis, carpal tunnel, or other problems.

I use the stand mixer for the bulk of the kneading, then finish by hand for a couple of minutes, adjusting the flour/moisture content at that point. But, much more than two minutes of that, and my hand and arm are done for at least a day.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thank you all. I have only ever kneaded by hand, so perhaps I'll stick to the old fashioned way, at least for the final kneading.

I have only ever used tilt head mixers; what is the benefit/reason for the bowl lift type?
post #9 of 10
I don't know if there are particular benefits or drawbacks to tilt-head vs bowl lift (although some say it's easier to scrape the bowl with a tilt-head). It's just a matter of personal preference.

My original stand mixer was an Oster Kitchen Cent, with a tilt-head, and I never liked it. So opted for a bowl-lift this time, which I like much better.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #10 of 10
A new mixer - so much fun!

I have both a KA Artisan and a Pro 600. Actually, I use the Artisan far more than the Pro 600 because I find the tilt-back head so much easier to work with than the crank on the Pro 600. I find it much easier to add ingredient and to scrape down the bowl with the tilt head. And, I frequently knead dough with the Artisan and don't really have a problem there.

Also, before I knead dough, I wipe the dough hook with a paper towel with a very small amount of oil on it and that seems to keep the dough from riding up the hook. Just a thought...!

Take care
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