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Stand Mixers 2002 – 2011


seawakim
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I am finally getting a "real" stand mixer and am confused with all the variety available to me. It seems that a lot of people own KitchenAid...I don't know if that means they are the best, but they certainly seem to be among the priciest.

Then there are the sizes...4.5qt, 5qt or 6qt?

What are your experiences?

Can anyone provide some insight?

"If we don't find anything pleasant at least we shall find something new." Voltaire

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I bake rather frequently, but usually bake more a variety rather than quantity. I generally bake sweet things (everything from pastries to pies and cookies). I haven't done much bread baking. One of the things that intrigued me about the KitchenAid was the availabilty of attachments for making pasta, sausage and all kinds of things. Do you have any experience with these? Do they work well?

"If we don't find anything pleasant at least we shall find something new." Voltaire

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Here's my short Kitchenaid summary--I have many of the attachments, the food mill, sausage grinder and stuffer, but have never used them. I have only used the juicer attachment, maybe 10 years ago, and it works with citrus fairly well. However, my real experience with the machines is as stand mixers--as I guess most people use them.

Though K-aid seems to be coming out with bigger more colorful more powerful models all the time--there still seem to be 3 basic choices--1) the kind where the bowl attaches at the bottom and the mixer head tilts back (least expensive, least good) 2) the kind where the 5 Qt. bowl attaches on an arm which can be raised and lowered with a lever (most common, more expensive, around 325-350 watts but very very good and reliable) and then 3) a slightly larger model, more "powerful" still with the lever, but with a larger, wider bowl. We own a few of the older #2 K5A/K5SS models and they are great, all you could ever need in a small stand mixer, equally good with dough hook, paddle and whip--and we were also given an Epicurean--the newer larger #3 model. Let's say it's 6 quarts. After using it for a while, I don't like it. It stays up on the shelf. The timing and controls are off--inherently sluggish, in the sense the gears and speeds don't shift as well--plus you have to recalibrate all your recipes to larger batches--and face it, some things don't do well in a large bowl in small amounts. And it's just a sense, but I think the quality control has slipped in the newer, larger models.

Bigger isn't necessarily better. If you can tolerate that--and you feel you'd gain by being able to do larger batches of cake batter or need larger amounts of whipped creams or meringues, fine. But I think you might actually find it harder to do pastry things well with this larger bowl size.

Some bread guys I know advocate higher wattage and models like Kenwood and of course pastry pros use Hobart in their shops--but their needs are different. Just be forewarned there is more bitching and moaning on the web about how new Kitchenaids are not as reliable as old. So you might want to read around.

Apart from volume, maybe others could speak to what the added power of some of the professional models bring to the table, but our K5's have been indestructible in demanding use by professionals and would be perfect for the home cook. Around $200 seems a very fair price to pay for such a workhorse that will last a decade at least.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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I have had the meat grinder attachment for 20-30 years and use it any time I need ground meat, as I like the texture. Now there is reason to be concerned about the healthiness of store-ground meat (or worse yet, processing plants), which makes it even more useful.

I recently bought the pasta rollers. WOW! It's a great attachment. Making pasta is a breeze.

"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

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I have had the meat grinder attachment for 20-30 years and use it any time I need ground meat, as I like the texture.  Now there is reason to be concerned about the healthiness of store-ground meat (or worse yet, processing plants), which makes it even more useful. 

I recently bought the pasta rollers.  WOW!  It's a great attachment.  Making pasta is a breeze.

Which model do you own?

"If we don't find anything pleasant at least we shall find something new." Voltaire

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We have a model KSM5OP (or is it 0P?) 350 watts. I believe it's the high end of Klc's #2 line. We used to have the smaller tilt back model years ago, but when my wife started to bake breads, she needed this one. It's far better all around. We were always a bit sorry we had purchased the other model but we bought it early in our lives and it seemed so much more expensive than the kind of mixmasters that were standard in most households that baked. The bar has risen significantly in terms of what's used as standard American kitchen equipment since the sixties.

The meat grinder. We have used it to a great extent, but I've come to prefer grinding meat in the Cuisinart food processor as it chops the meat more cleanly. Others believe it tends to overheat the meat. From time to time we still make good use of the meat grinder for stuffing sausages.

The juicer worked real well, but was overkill for a couple of oranges and we bought a presser anyway.

It's been a while since we bought even the new KitchenAid and a much longer time since I've checked the market on mixers, but back then KichenAid had the lock on mixers with planetary action. It was the only one superior to a manual rotary egg beater. I'm sorry to hear that the KitchenAid machines produced today may not be as reliable as the ones made years ago. If that's the case, one can bet they'll be worse in coming years. Get the better one then, as by the time you can afford it, it may not be as good. By better one, I'm really not thinking the very large one Klc describes as #3 unless you anticipate needing that size bowl. Still, it's hard to speak for someone else.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I've had a KitchenAid 6 qt for over ten years, use it several times each week, and would probably rather lose my right hand than part with it. (I'm left handed)

I often think that the 5 qt model with the tilt up head would be easier to use, but I wouldn't want to give up the capacity and power of the larger, fixed head model.

SB (also has all atttachments except roto slicer/shredder)

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Seawakim, I have a KA 4C from the early 60's and a K5-A from either late 60's or early 70's.

As for your original question about the sort of machine to buy today, I'd be cautious about the current KA which is no longer manufactured by Hobart. Search around on the web to see if you can find out about the Kenwood and perhaps other high end manufacturers. King Arthur catalog (which sells both of them ) did a comparison of Kenwood & KA which sort of gave the edge to Kenwood (Kenmore? too lazy to go check).

Hobart still makes a mixer in the home kitchen size, but I believe it costs about $1000. Check their web site. Also, it is possible to find older KA's for sale on EBay.

Bux, what I like about the KA meat grinder is that a single grinding gives the rough texture that I prefer for hamburgers or ragus. But I'll give the Cuisinart a try next time.

"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

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When grinding meat, the Kitchen Aid gives a consistent grind. You can make it finer by regrinding the meat and that will also produce a consistent result. The foodprocessor offers a range of fineness, but you may have a hard time getting a consistent product by pulsing. If it comes out of the grinder just as you like it, you may not be happy with the processor for that reason alone.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I have a Kitchen Aid K5A that was my grandmother's. I don't know when she got it--at least 30 years ago, I would guess. It is great--still going strong. The cool thing is that the replacement whisks and various attachments fit it perfectly--no planned obsolence there! (The pasta rollers are great!)

Like others, I can't vouch for the new models. Perhaps the suggested e-bay run is in order!

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I had an older KitchenAid K5SS, but I left it with my mom when I moved to the midwest. My mom uses it regularly and I use it whenever I go back to visit. We've never had problems although it does a complain a little with stiffer bread doughs.

I now own a Kenwood and I like it better than my old KA. It's more powerful and has been especially helpful because my right arm doesn't let me knead by hand anymore. I haven't bought any attachments for the Kenwood, but I have heard good things about them. However, Kenwood was recently bought by DeLonghi, so the quality of the mixers may have changed.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have the new 6qt kitchenaid. I love it! It is in the professional series and has a 525 watt motor. The size of the bowl and much more power make a huge difference. There is also a new "slow start" so that you never splatter flour etc... I had always used the 5qt- now those bowls seem so small! It is also a much better machine for bread.

Kitchenaid is discontinuing the 5qt (though they will still make accesories and "parts"). The 6qt is replacing it. My sister has the 4.5qt. We both agree that the screw in bowl and the flip top are irritating- plus the bowl is too small.

I am very happy with the new 6qt (it has only been available for a couple of years).

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Forget any machine with a bowl that screws into the base, the screws eventually wear out and you'll never be able to get a bowl of ice underneath the mixing bowl if you want to cool something down while whisking (such as Chantilly or ganache). Also, the Kenwood has a tunnel-like bowl and mixtures like Italian meringue take forever to cool down. Go for the Kitchen Aid with the up-and-down bowl.

And BTW, you should always knead bread dough by hand; it's good exercise and gets out all your frustrations :smile:

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Jason--somehow I knew you would be attracted to this "Porsche" of stand mixers. I saw it in Bloomingdales the other day, without a price marked. Very stylish, very solid, since there is so much stainless in our house already, and our last Cuisinart just bit the dust--damaged shipping back from an event--I figured this might be a nice upgrade. Then I checked online and saw the price. I'd have to hear some reports from people who actually use this machine that is good before investing that much. For now I'll make due with my K5A, mandoline, immersion blender and knives.

The interesting thing about this is that Bosch has a similar version of this unit in white plastic--same power rating--at less than half the price. I believe it's called the Bosch Universal and was also at Bloomingdales.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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  • 6 months later...

I need advice on mixers. I know Hobart is the best, but I can't afford even a second hand one. I'm looking for a 20 qt. or smaller. I was offered a new 12 qt. Fleetwood for $600.00. Is this a good deal? Can we have an open discussion on mixers?

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Those 20 quarts look like they go for some major bucks... 1000 dollars and up. Are you sure you don't wanna start out with a Kitchen Aid?

Edit: I saw a few that you might want to bid on in the 500-600 dollar range, but they look like they got more than a few years on em. I suppose if the motor is still good, and they arent rusting, it doesnt matter.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Regular Kitchen Aids won't be covered under warranty when using in a commercial kitchen, so that makes me a bit nervous. I'm thinking of mixing some bread in it too, so want a strong motor. Can Kitchen Aid handle that sort of thing in a commercial kitchen? The do have one 6 qt for around $550, but then I may as well go for the Fleetwood, no?

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Hmm, the 500(& something) watt, 6qt Professional model can be had for $300-$350 if you look hard enough. Dunno what you're planning on making, but I don't see a mid-line stand mixer between the KitchenAid and the 10-20qt restaurant models. Looks like a niche that needs filling. For what it's worth, I have an old 4-1/2qt, 250 watt KitchenAid, and unless I'm making a double batch of sticky pizza dough, it rarely bogs down. Not that I wouldn't want the 500 watt model. And not that I'm making restaurant quantieties of dough. But they're hard to stop. Trust me, I've tried :wink: .

Chad

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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Elyse--I think the answer to your question is depends on the kind of business you are considering budding--so fill us in a bit more? There is a used market trading these smaller restaurant Hobarts--less than 20 quart--but I guess my real question is what it is you see yourself doing with it? Any bread? I can't tell you the number of kitchens I've been in where there's 1) a big Hobart just sitting there taking up space.

They don't work as well doing certain things vs. a smaller batch and if your staff screws up a batch it is expensive mistake or 2) the number of kitchens without a 5/6 quart stand mixer, which is essential.

So fill us in, don't over-purchase and don't neglect a 5/6 quart machine--which is what you'll most likely end up using anyway, especially if you're doing smaller batches of different compenents and then combining them.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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How stupid of me! I must have been a bit bleary last night when I wrote the above.

I'm baking cookies, muffins/loaf cakes, and breads to sell at a farmer's market. Basically. Muffins and cakes I can, of course, do by hand, but the cookies and breads are a bit more time consuming. Also, I'm trying to make extra batches to store in the fridge, and have on hand for the next week or so. So far, I've only been making double batches of cookies from a typical home recipe, and selling out before the market closes. If I didn't have to spend the time with my HAND MIXER :angry: I think I could a) be calmer in the kitchen, and b) sell more. As a matter of fact, a cafe down the road bought a few leftover cookies my first day, and was disappointed that I had no excess at all last week. Bigger batches will make more to sell.

So far, I have no staff. I do everything. Everything is simple, nothing fussy.

Kitchen Aid sells "Profesional" "Heavy Duty" and "Commercial" mixers. They are not covered under warranty in a commercial kitchen. I don't remember what the actual professional one is called, but for sure, the above 3 are not what they seem. The real commercial one goes for around $550.

I did look around ebay, but having never ordered anything off the internet, AND not wanting to get shafted, I'm nervous about that. Should I not be? Hobarts in the mail? :unsure: Scary.

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