Yak's thoughts & tips on breadmachines vs. mixers

The highs and lows of breadmachines

I think bread machines are great - they're what introduced me to the joys of homemade bread. But I thought I'd share the following tip since breadmachines have their pitfalls too. Most breadmachines have a set rising time - so if you live in an area of variable weather (like most of the eastern seaboard and midwest, for example) it can be tough to judge the sugar/salt ratio and the flour/water ratio in order to get consistent results (if you can't change the rising time, you can play with these two variables to affect how quickly the dough will rise). A lot of folks blame themselves when their dough doesn't come out right in the breadmachine because breadmachines are marketed as 'foolproof'. But this is really unfair to the cook - variations (due to environmmental conditions or quality of yeast) between batches for the required rising time are the most common reason for variations in results. Changing the above-mentioned variables can help adjust the rising time... but it qualifies as high art and is dicey even for the most experienced baker. It's much easier to simply adjust the rising time... something you can't usually do in a breadmachine.

One way to get around this is to make the dough in the bread machine, and then do the final rising in a bread pan... putting the bread in the oven once you visually observe that the dough has risen sufficiently.

This is an excellent technique that will increase your success rate dramatically - and at this point, you should be asking yourself... "isn't my breadmachine just acting like a programmed kitchenaid mixer?" And the answer is a resounding, "Yes". If you're lucky enough to own both a mixer and a breadmachine... well then kiddo... you're in luck! (Btw, no affiliation with kitchenaid - I just happen to have a profound love for my mixer. Standard disclaimers apply.)

How you can use your Kitchenaid mixer as a breadmachine substitute?


And why would you want to?

Here's how to use the mixer for bread-making:

There are 5 reasons for using a Kitchenaid instead of a breadmachine for kneading dough:

  1. The kneading time is cut down dramatically. Typically, breadmachines have kneading times of 20 - 25 minutes... because the kneading hook is so small. A kitchenaid mixer can do the same job in about 2 - 3 minutes on speed 2.
  2. A lot of breadmachines bake the kneading hook right into the loaf and you have to remember to remove it - which also sort of messes up the loaf. (I've once given my kneading hook away by accident - but got it back of course!)
  3. Generally, the kitchenaid is easier to clean up - the dough hook can go right in the dishwasher as can the metal bowl... which has the added advantage of having no crannies for you to spend hours digging out crammed in dough.
  4. You can make more than one loaf at a time... the mixer motor can't usually handle a double batch at once... but since the kneading time is only 2 minutes... you can stagger two batches easily.
  5. If you keep kosher - you can just buy another mixing bowl and dough hook for your pareve or fleishig recipes - it's a lot less $$ than buying another bread machine, or kitchenaid for that matter. (For the record, I realize this arrangement may not fly with every orthodox rabbi, but it would be considered okay by conservative Jews - if orthodox you'll have to consult your rabbi.) I like to make desserts with my mixer too - and the best ones always call for at least 2 sticks of butter -g-.

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