Who doesn’t want their kitchen to smell like a bread bakery? That’s why this post is specifically about the best dough mixer – find the best stand mixer here.
Kneading dough is where bread succeeds or fails.
It gives the yeast time to work, and it lets the gluten form – the thing that stops the bread falling apart!
But kneading is hard work. It can take between 5-10 minutes to knead dough by hand. That puts a lot of stress on your wrists.
So if you want to take the exhaustion out of baking, read on to find out how a dough mixer can make all the difference to your bread!
Will I need a stand mixer to make bread?
Not necessarily. A good hand mixer with a dough hook attachment will tackle dough. Hand mixers have the advantage of being portable, and easy to store.
Hand mixers are also ideal if you’re only making small batches. They’re perfect for smaller kitchens, or bakers who don’t bake often enough to justify the cost of a stand mixer.
But stand mixers are definitely a good choice if you do a lot of baking, or you need to whip up a big batch. They’re also multipurpose, so you’ll easily find other tasks to set it and it’ll have paid for itself in no time.
There are two types of stand mixers: the tilt head, where you can lift the top of the machine to attach and remove mixing attachments; and the bowl-lift, which allows you to lift the bowl up to the attachment.
The best mixers are known as planetary mixers, with a single beater that rotates around the bowl. This runs the attachment more consistently through your mixture.
If you want to bake bread, simply add your dough hook attachment and let the mixer do the work!
Stand mixers don’t necessarily take less time to knead than doing it by hand, but they will take the physical effort out of kneading for you. A dough mixer also frees you up to do other things while it kneads your dough.
They’re also a great investment if you don’t have much counter space for rolling out or kneading bread by hand.
Are there different types of dough hooks?
There are two main types, the bent or curved attachment often known as a ‘C’ or a ‘J’ hook. One of the drawbacks of these hooks is that dough can ride up them during kneading.
You can stop the mixer and scrape the dough back down. Alternatively, you can buy a spiral or corkscrew shaped attachment.
It ‘unscrews’ itself from the dough, making it easier to clean!
Some hooks come with a nylon coating, which users report can chip off over time. If you can, try to buy full metal attachments which should last longer. If they’re dishwasher-safe, that’s even better!
What’s the best way to use a dough mixer?
You can actually start off by putting the water in the bowl first and adding your flour second. This stops the flour sticking to the bottom and giving you lumpy bread.
It’s possible to use the paddle attachment to mix the ingredients and then switch to the dough hook for kneading.
Run the mixer on a low setting – for a KitchenAid, don’t run it above 2 – until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the side of the bowl. Using a dough hook means you don’t have to worry about your dough being ‘sticky’ since you don’t need to handle it.
A dough mixer is also great for enriched doughs, like brioche bread. Since the dough is naturally stickier, you can avoid the temptation to add more flour since the mixer will handle it for you.
The dough is ready when you can stretch it out and see through it without it tearing, known as the ‘windowpane’ technique. This lets you know that enough gluten has built up in your dough!
Do dough mixers have any downsides?
Stand mixers are by their nature heavier than hand mixers. They’re designed to be left on a counter for easy access, unlike hand mixers that can be slipped into smaller spaces between appliances.
The weight of a stand mixer might seem off-putting if you need to store it on a shelf or lift it out of a cupboard. But this bulk is also what helps to make them so powerful, keeping them grounded while you put them through their paces.
Despite this, some models can ‘walk’ around the counter if they run for too long, or you’re making a larger batch. You can alleviate this by running the mixer at a lower setting, or mix smaller batches.
Bear in mind that running larger batches can overload the mixers, and shorten the lifespan of their motors. If you consistently need larger batches, consider a more professional-level machine.
It can also help to put a damp cloth under the mixer’s feet or set it against a wall. Choose a more powerful mixer as it will struggle less with dough, so it should stay put with ease!
Alternatively, try making a different type of bread! Quick breads (like this banana bread) require a batter-like consistency to the mixture. No kneading is required.
As the mixer doesn’t need to power through a thick dough, it should run more easily.
What brands are available?
KitchenAid is the most well-known name, and its Artisan model continually scores well in tests. Its first tabletop mixer emerged in 1919, so it has a good lineage of making equipment for bakers.
Kenwood, Dualit, Breville, Bosch and Cuisinart also make a range of stand mixers that come with dough hook attachments.
When you’re comparing models, don’t feel pressured into buying a dough mixer with 16 speeds. A mixer with a very slow low speed is ideal, as the slower the mixer runs, the less it spatters!
At the same time, a more powerful machine will have no problems with a heavy dough.
But no matter which model you choose, look forward to saving time – and your wrists!
Over to you! Have you recently upgraded to a stand mixer, or are you hoping to treat yourself very soon? Let us know!