The Wood-Fired Blog

Cuisinart Mixer and Wet Dough

Hmmm. We seem to have a problem. My new Cuisinart stand mixer doesn’t do a good job of mixing high hydration dough. I have been trying different solutions to address the problem (adding the water first, mixing the flour and water using the dough attachment before turning on the machine), but I can’t see to make it work. This isn’t good.

Here is a photo of a 1Kg batch of dough with 72.5% water at 10 minutes of mixing. Nothing crazy. The stuff you see in the bottom of the mixing bowl is dry, unmixed flour.

Cuisinart Mixer Update

A quick update on my Cuisinart mixer. First, I made the commitment of recycling the shipping boxes for the mixer, so I guess you could say that I have burned my bridges and I’m going to make this work. My wife asked if I was ready to get rid of the boxes, and my honest answer is that I’m not completely thrilled with either mixer and that both have serious drawbacks, and that I am ready to learn more about the new one.

I’m not certain whether it was the hassle of returning the Cuisinart, or the fact that I like the timer. Either way, it doesn’t matter. The next step up in stand mixers appears to be a $2,000+ small commercial mixer, and I’m just not ready for that.

The second piece of information is that I had something of a success in my “do not touch the mixer’ experiment. I pretty much successfully mixed and kneaded a 1kg batch of whole wheat with oat bran and flax seeds by adding the water first. As I sat there staring at the bread attachment going round and round, I realized that while the mixing motion does not seem to be as efficient as the KitchenAid (it takes a lot long to incorporate all of the flour into the dough), it did eventually get there. Without any intervention from me.

But. It took 15 minutes. There were still large amounts of flour not mixed into my dough after a full 10 minutes.

So for now, I am going to set my timer to 15. Leave the room, and hope that it works.

Dough and my Cuisinart Mixer

To catch up, I have been working with my new Cuisinart stand mixer to make easy, one-touch dough. So far, I have had trouble with loose flour not getting mixed in the bottom of the bowl, with flour building up on the side of the bowel, and the dough ball not getting completely formed. I also have some questions about the overall “quality” of the dough mixing. With my latest trials, it is better — though still not where I want it to be.

First, I added the water first. For a 1000 gram batch, it’s easy. Just decide on your hydration and weight and add the water — OK, that’s a no-brainer.

Then I added all my dry and moist ingredient. In this case whole wheat flour, rolled oats, honey, olive oil and molasses.

Here is where it got a little tricky. After a 10 minute mix on medium-low speed (5-6), there was a lot of flour build-up on the side of the bowel, and the dough had not fully shaped into a ball that full pulled away from the side of the bowel. I raised the mixer and lifted the dough ball up, and set it back down, along with the dough hook. It eventually formed a dough ball, but it wouldn’t have if I hadn’t intervened.

Flour build up on the sides.

Dough ball finally pulls away from the sides.

My bread turned out fine, of course. But I am still a little concerned about the best way of addressing this problem. Meanwhile, I am going to do some research on the Planetary motion on the KitchenAid. More to come on that.



Cuisinart Update

It might be as simple as learning to work with a new appliance — or perhaps the Cuisinsart mixer does not have a comparable mixing action and bowl design with the KitchenAid. But I seem to be having trouble getting my entire batch of dough to mix into a nice ball, where the mixer leaves unmixed flour at the bottom of the bowl. There is also a lot of dry flour build up on the side of the bowl, none of which is good. As a lazy baker (someone who tries to be really efficient so that I can focus on the aspects of my hobby that are really fun and have the biggest impact), I don’t want to spend a lot of time messing with my mixer after I have weighed my ingredient.

In an attempt to stop this from happening today, I “mixed” the dry ingredients and the water using the kneading attachment in my hand. After weighing the dry ingredient, I added and weighed the water and then gave it a good mix before attaching the kneading arm and turning on the mixer for 10 minutes. After the cycle was complete, I took a look under the dough and there was still dry, unmixed flour. Blah. I mixed it in my hand and turned the mixer back on for another five minutes, and it all eventually was done. Then, six folds and back into the bowl for bulk fermentation.

I can see that the bottom of the Cuisinart bowl does not have as deep an indent as the KA bowl. Does that matter?

This needs a great deal more testing until I either figure out how to make it work easily — or decide that the Cuisinart isn’t the mixer for me. More to come.

Today’s batch is Whole Wheat Pine Nut (because I had pine nuts in the cupboard). Sounds good!

First Impressions

As I start working with my new 7 qt Cuisinart stand mixer, I thought I would jot down a couple of initial impressions.

Out of the box, the Cuisinart has a lot more exterior plastic than the KitchenAid. The heaviness and the professional, industrial feel are two of the more attractive aspects of the KitchenAid, and they just aren’t there with the Cuisinart. From the moment that I first picked up the box and carried it into the house, I knew that the Cuisinart would feel a lot lighter, a lot less industrial — less substantial. The box just didn’t weight that much, and it was surprising.

To the touch, you just can’t avoid the fact that the housing simply has a lot of plastic. The silver trim and the knobs and buttons are all just plastic, and the metal housing is a lighter weight material. I’m not sure what the metal or the coating are, but it isn’t enamel on steel. Plus, the feel of the switches and knobs is really quite flimsy; not solid.

And then there is one of my favorites. In the spirit of Spinal Tap, this one goes to 12. Not 10, not (sadly) 11. But 12. The speed dial does not rotate firmly, and there are no guidelines when rotating the dial to mark the numbers (that thing nice dials do to let you know that you are hitting the numbers). In fact, the dial isn’t even snug in it groove. It is so loose, that you can pull it out and push it inward — it just wobbles along.

Curious about the weight, I took out our bathroom scale and weighed the two mixers. The KitchenAid weighs 26.2 lbs., while the Cuisinart weighs 18.6 lbs. And you can tell just by tapping and touching the two machines.

All of that said, you don’t mix dough with a heavy metal enclosure or with nice knobs and buttons. You mix dough with a good engine (though I am not totally certain what that exactly means), the proper motion (I’m not really sure what this means either), and a good dough hook (hmmm, I’m not even sure what this means). And the Cuisinart claims a 1,000 watt motor and a deep 7-quart mixing bowl — where the KitchenAid sports a 575 watt motor and a 6-quart bowl. Though I need to note that the KitchenAid also claims to have a 67 point planetary mixing action (and no, I don’t know what that means either).

Obviously I have lots to learn about mixers. Regardless, I wouldn’t be making the blog posting if my KitchenAid mixer hadn’t died.

One last point. The Cuisinart mixer has a timer that works nicely. Making bread today, I simple set the timer to 10 minutes, and the mixer beeped and stopped. That’s nice.

Lots more to come.