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Harpgirl

Do I Really Need A Heavy Duty Mixer?

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I bought a mix for gluten-free bread and later looked at another brand. Both instructions call for using a heavy duty mixer if not using a bread maker. I don't have either. Will it be enough to just knead the dough by hand? Or will it not turn out properly? Or can anyone recommend a brand that might suit me better? I wanted to try a mix first before attempting to make one from scratch.

I like to bake, but even before going gluten-free, I only ever made quick breads.

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Hi! Unfortunately nearly all gluten-free bread dough is unkneadable by hand because the texture is soooo different. It is more like really stiff cake batter - you actually must spread it into a pan and wet your fingers to flatten the top. It has really taken the fun out of breadmaking in my opinion. I used to love the action of rolling it, proofing it, punching it down...now it's sort of like making cake with yeast. :angry:

The reason you need a heavy duty mixer is that the dough becomes incredibly stiff. Small mixers would not cut it - you need a mixer with a metal paddle and possibly a dough hook. My favourite is KitchenAid Professional Series because it is very powerful. I believe a few people here use the Artisan series. I would highly recommend stainless steel attachments - NOT plastic. I have heard time and time again about those who purchased plastic and they broke. I also use my mixer to make gluten-free pasta with my pasta attachments as well as focaccia, pizza dough, cakes, cookies, English muffins...

I do not have a bread maker as it is not a necessity for making gluten-free bread. Most recipes will (or at least should! ;) ) include information on making it without.

I make my bread by scratch so sadly cannot recommend any particular brands. Have tried Gluten Free Pantry once and while it was ok on the first day it was icky by the next (incredibly crumbly and horrid texture).

Many gluten-free bread recipes sort of look like quick breads so do not be alarmed! The first time I made gluten-free bread I actually cried because I was shocked at how it looked, felt and tasted. Now I am growing used to it but am a picky cook/baker and have not found anything I love yet. So, I often would rather go without. But I do need a vehicle for all my homemade preserves, flavoured honeys, compound butters, etc.

Of course different flours have different properties; some are for browning, some for flavour, some for chew, some to make the recipe less dense and so on. gluten-free baking is an entirely different thing! But do not be discouraged - cakes, cookies, brownies, pie crusts, pancakes, waffles, etc. are very simple to make gluten-free and taste just as delicious as with gluten. Where the flavour/texture differs is with yeast breads, buns, etc.

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I had a KitchenAid Artisan mixer already before my diagnosis and I don't know what I would do without it since I use it for so many other things as well. I definitely think it is a good investment for your kitchen. I do not have a bread maker and so far haven't really seen the need to get one since I seem to do alright so far without one. :)

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I bought a mix for gluten-free bread and later looked at another brand. Both instructions call for using a heavy duty mixer if not using a bread maker. I don't have either. Will it be enough to just knead the dough by hand? Or will it not turn out properly? Or can anyone recommend a brand that might suit me better? I wanted to try a mix first before attempting to make one from scratch.

I like to bake, but even before going gluten-free, I only ever made quick breads.

As love2travel explained the texture of most gluten-free dough is really more like a thick paste or like spackling compound. You won't be able to knead it with your hands. I have gotten by so far just using my hand mixer but I don't make bread very often. When I do make bread or pizza crust, I can tell that the hand mixer is struggling to keep up. One of these days the motor is probably going to burn out on me. It was a cheap mixer though and I hope it actually DOES burn out so I can tell my hubby I need a new one. Shh, don't tell him I plan to replace it with a Kitchen Aide. ;)

Now I know that just about everyone here will tell you just buy the expensive KA mixer first to make it easier, but I'm going to go against that advice and tell you to buy a less expensive one and see how often you actually use it. If you find you use it several times a week then it's justified to get the better quality (and more expensive) mixer later. Search on Amazon and read the reviews of the lower price-point stand mixers. You will find several that are under $100 and still get 4 stars from the majority of users--probably because the people buying them are not professional chefs using them every day. Cuisinart has one that is favorably rated I think. Of course if you are sure you will use it everyday or several times a week then you could just go ahead and invest in a Kitchen Aide. You alone know yourself and whether you will stick with learning to bake gluten-free bread.

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As love2travel explained the texture of most gluten-free dough is really more like a thick paste or like spackling compound. You won't be able to knead it with your hands. I have gotten by so far just using my hand mixer but I don't make bread very often. When I do make bread or pizza crust, I can tell that the hand mixer is struggling to keep up. One of these days the motor is probably going to burn out on me. It was a cheap mixer though and I hope it actually DOES burn out so I can tell my hubby I need a new one. Shh, don't tell him I plan to replace it with a Kitchen Aide. ;)

Now I know that just about everyone here will tell you just buy the expensive KA mixer first to make it easier, but I'm going to go against that advice and tell you to buy a less expensive one and see how often you actually use it. If you find you use it several times a week then it's justified to get the better quality (and more expensive) mixer later. Search on Amazon and read the reviews of the lower price-point stand mixers. You will find several that are under $100 and still get 4 stars from the majority of users--probably because the people buying them are not professional chefs using them every day. Cuisinart has one that is favorably rated I think. Of course if you are sure you will use it everyday or several times a week then you could just go ahead and invest in a Kitchen Aide. You alone know yourself and whether you will stick with learning to bake gluten-free bread.

Spackle! That is EXACTLY what the dough is like! I do have one recipe that you can actually knead but cannot at the moment find it but I must as it is my favourite thus far.

Good advice re KA mixers. Because I use mine nearly daily (for pasta and other savoury preparations, too) I found it necessary to go high end. But I thankfully got it from eBay for far cheaper (though the shipping charge from the US alone was $75). Having used Cuisinart my preference is KA but that is just a personal thing. Lots of people like Cuisinart, too.

Don't be alarmed if your first attempt is, well, akin to a heavy brick. Hopefully not! With more experience it does get better because you learn more appropriate ratios of ingredients. Of course climate and altitude play a part as well.

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Spackle! That is EXACTLY what the dough is like! I do have one recipe that you can actually knead but cannot at the moment find it but I must as it is my favourite thus far.

Good advice re KA mixers. Because I use mine nearly daily (for pasta and other savoury preparations, too) I found it necessary to go high end. But I thankfully got it from eBay for far cheaper (though the shipping charge from the US alone was $75). Having used Cuisinart my preference is KA but that is just a personal thing. Lots of people like Cuisinart, too.

Don't be alarmed if your first attempt is, well, akin to a heavy brick. Hopefully not! With more experience it does get better because you learn more appropriate ratios of ingredients. Of course climate and altitude play a part as well.

The reason I gave that advice is from my own personal experience. I had a stand mixer (not a KA) once upon a time when I was not gluten-free and lived in a house instead of a tiny apartment in the city. I NEVER used it. I used it maybe twice the entire time I owned it. I did bake a lot of things like muffins and cakes and used my hand mixer most of the time instead. So it was a no brainer to sell it when I hubby and I moved to a big city and kitchen space was at a premium in my apratment. I do think I would use it more now because my lifestyle (and the amount of time I have to spend in the kitchen) has changed with illness and change of diet. I'm just waiting until we move into a house because there's no place to put one where I currently live. I'm fairly certain if I had kids however that would change my decision of whether to get the expensive one or try a less expensive model first to see how much I used it.

Oh, and another idea for saving money on the purchase is to get it at Bed, Bath and Beyond with one of their 20% off coupons.

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Oh and by the way I can't take credit for calling gluten-free dough spackle. I first read that term on the recipe for King Arthur Gluten free pizza and have been using it ever since. Harpgirl, if you want to see what most of your doughs are going to look like, here's a good example: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2010/06/01/what-do-readers-say-about-our-gluten-free-pizza-crust-%E2%80%9Camazing%E2%80%9D/

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The reason I gave that advice is from my own personal experience. I had a stand mixer (not a KA) once upon a time when I was not gluten-free and lived in a house instead of a tiny apartment in the city. I NEVER used it. I used it maybe twice the entire time I owned it. I did bake a lot of things like muffins and cakes and used my hand mixer most of the time instead. So it was a no brainer to sell it when I hubby and I moved to a big city and kitchen space was at a premium in my apratment. I do think I would use it more now because my lifestyle (and the amount of time I have to spend in the kitchen) has changed with illness and change of diet. I'm just waiting until we move into a house because there's no place to put one where I currently live. I'm fairly certain if I had kids however that would change my decision of whether to get the expensive one or try a less expensive model first to see how much I used it.

Oh, and another idea for saving money on the purchase is to get it at Bed, Bath and Beyond with one of their 20% off coupons.

Smaller spaces certainly do change the arrangement of things in the kitchen. A KA mixer will NEVER fit in our Croatia house but I am still buying one somewhere in Europe because we have a huge and lovely outdoor wood burning oven that is simply crying out for various flatbreads and pizza. Unfortunately because of the different configuration of electrical sockets, etc. in Europe I cannot take my current one with me (nor any of my other appliances). It is too bad that most appliances are a lot more expensive there than here. :(

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It is a big decision to purchase a Kitchen Aid (somebody recommended a Cuisinart in an earlier post.)

I have one and love it. I have a non gluten-free friend that says she rarely uses her's because it's such a PIA to haul it out of the cupboard. I splurged on the dutscover, and keep the KA on my counter. (That's big, because I have a teensy galley kitchen.)

Over and above bread, you can make really fabulous dessert with the standard attachment wire wisk. Check this link if interested. http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Strawberry-Meringue-Dess

(Of course, you could probably do the meringue and pavlova recipes with a standard hand held cheap mixer.

I still buy Udi's, and don't make many breads, because I just got disappointed with bread making and my body doesn't seem to like grains. That could just be me, though. I buy a loaf of Udi's about every two or three months. For me, it wouldn't make financial sense to purchas an expensive stand mixer now. I have it, I love it, but it was really expensive! (And even though it's on the counter, I don't use it much.)

It may for you, if you love bread and like to smell it cooking (and you can snag some good recipes from love2travel).

I guess the answer is what is it costing you to purchase a pretty good bread vs. what it will cost you for ingredients for a pretty good bread over five year's time. Five years is a reasonable return on investmnt.

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If all you are going to use the mixer for is bread I would not bother buying a heavy duty mixer, actually. You may be disappointed. But if you use it for tons of other things (already mentioned) it would be worthwhile. Mine sits proudly on the counter in all its splendor - it is seriously one of my most treasured possessions. But then I use it often!

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It took me exactly one loaf of gluten-free bread (a real brick) before I ordered my KitchenAid. My hand mixer works well for lots of things like muffins and quick breads, but for gluten-free yeast breads...forget it. I also bought the Artisan model, which so far has met my needs nicely. It's heavy and sits on my counter all the time or I'm afraid I'd never use it. I debated between it and a bread machine but figured the mixer would be more versatile. I don't have room for both so I definitely made the right decision.

I forgot about the King Arthur pizza crust. I did make it once but wasn't totally happy with how it stuck to my pizza pan. I have since ordered a box of their flour and will add it to my list to try again. Next time I'll line the pan with nonstick aluminum foil and oil it as nothing sticks to it. Once it's prebaked, I can slide it off the foil and onto the pan before topping it. I think it's interesting that their recipes for bread/pizza crust call for two rises. Only other place I've run across that is the Land O Lakes website recipes, which I haven't tried yet.

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I think it's interesting that their recipes for bread/pizza crust call for two rises. Only other place I've run across that is the Land O Lakes website recipes, which I haven't tried yet.

That two rises is really important too. I found out the hard way by skipping a rise one time. It was still good but not nearly as light and fluffy as when I let it rise a second time. The King Arthur recipe is my favorite and well worth the time it takes, IMO. You do have to oil the pan really well. I have a solid non-stick and the only time I had trouble with it sticking was when I did not put enough oil (I think I was at the bottom of a jar of Olive oil and figured it wouldn't stick to my non-stick pan, but I was wrong).

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I posted the second and third paragraphs on another thread, but thought it applied here. My machine is a model SM-55. I use it 3 - 5 times a week for cookies, crackers, bread, etc. To answer your question, you can certainly mix by hand and get a good workout! LOL! Before the days of appliances, people mixed by hand, so it is possible. It's just MUCH easier with a mixer.

from previous post: "Unfortunately, my not-very-old KitchenAid Artisan died about a week into all this [gluten-free diet]! I bought a really nice Cuisinart 5.5 qt mixer which I love. It's light enough that my daughter and I can easily get it out and put it away without struggle, which is necessary since I don't have enough counter space. (The KitchenAid Pro is also a wonderful mixer, but it's too tall and heavy for my needs.) Bed, Bath, and Beyond has both models, and if you sign up for their email list, you get a 20% discount for the store - be sure to use it quickly as it will expire.

And my cheap (compared to a mixer!) tool that I love is King Arthur Flour's gluten-free loaf pan: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/9-x-4-x-4-loaf-pan I used it for the first time last week, and the bread looked amazing! (Everyone liked it. I can't eat it due to other food issues.)"

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That two rises is really important too. I found out the hard way by skipping a rise one time. It was still good but not nearly as light and fluffy as when I let it rise a second time. The King Arthur recipe is my favorite and well worth the time it takes, IMO. You do have to oil the pan really well. I have a solid non-stick and the only time I had trouble with it sticking was when I did not put enough oil (I think I was at the bottom of a jar of Olive oil and figured it wouldn't stick to my non-stick pan, but I was wrong).

I did follow the directions with the two rises. I used so much oil it was oozing out of the pan so I was surprised it still stuck. But I'll try again with the aluminum foil. Actually Jules Shepard suggests using foil but then maybe she has the pans with holes in them.

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Just wanted to say, thanks to everyone who gave me the tips! I was on vacation at my parents place last week and didn't get much time on a computer. I think what I'll do is continue to buy Udi's bread to see how much of it I truly will eat. I was never much of a bread person anyway, but sandwiches seem to be a quick convenient lunch to pack for the day when I'm going to be out and about. If I end up eating lots of it, I'll look into a mixer or bread machine. :)

Thanks again everyone! :D

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No, you don't have to have a heavy- duty stand mixer, it depends on what sort of gluten free bread you are making and how you do it. I make microwave breads in cups/ramekins/bowels, small skillet breads, flatbreads, pancakes, mini loaves and smaller (8" x 4") loaves of bread all the time and have never brought out Godzilla Boom- Vroom, aka the Stand Mixer. I'm using baking soda, cream of tarter, and vinegar for leavening, and not using gums, instead, using the gluten free flours that are more naturally "sticky," eggs, and now chia seed gel to act as the binder which replaces the gluten.

I mix some of the liquids together with the vinegar, mix the dry ingredients together, and then add one to another, adding enough water to get the batter the right consistency. Then the mixture is pre soaked for awhile, then the leavening (baking soda) is added, and I stir it again. For the smaller size batches I'm making, they can easily be stirred by hand.

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