Not Your Grandmother’s KitchenAidTuesday, September 4, 2012 18:29
Way back in 2007, after baby number 3 was diagnosed with multiple food allergies, we were forced to make some major changes to the foods we were eating. Since he was still nursing, the little guy and I were on a corn, egg, dairy, honey, nut and soy free diet, which made it next to impossible to buy a simple loaf of bread for less than a small fortune. In an effort to spare our grocery budget, I started learning to bake our own bread, rolls, tortillas, etc.
A few months into the whole ordeal, my husband gifted me a KitchenAid Professional 6Qt Mixer for my birthday (March 2008). At the time, I considered it the Cadillac of home stand mixers, and I was beyond thrilled. It cost a fortune in comparison to our other small appliances, which included my blender from college, and a coffee maker that cost $9.99. I was confident that this mixer was going to make my life easier, but to make it worth the money, it was going to need to last. I read the manual from front to back to make sure I was using it correctly, but I wasn’t all that worried. I knew of more than a few people who were quite literally using the grandmother’s/mother’s 20-year-old KitchenAid mixer.
About 21 months into my mixer’s short life (December 2009), it started making clunking noises while kneading dough, and then abruptly quit running. I figured I wouldn’t get anywhere with KitchenAid because my mixer was out of warranty, but I was hugely pregnant (i.e. grouchy) and trying to do my Christmas baking, so I gave their customer service number a call anyway out of desperation. When it seemed certain they wouldn’t be able to help, I took matters into my own hands and took my poor mixer apart, revealing a cracked plastic gear housing and some broken gears.
The good part of the story is that another KitchenAid rep contacted me after I started tweeting about my mixer’s demise, but my refurbished replacement wouldn’t be available until their facilities reopened after the holidays.
Mixer number two lasted a little more than 2 years before the center shaft on the planetary broke. I replaced the planetary, which bought me about 4 months of mixing before the bevel gear went. I tried to replace the bevel gear with a new one I bought “just in case” when the planetary broke, and that bought me a whopping week of mixing. Obviously there is something more wrong with the mixer, and I’ve thrown in the towel on fixing it.
At this point I’ve given up. Aside from the time my kitchen was in boxes while we moved this summer, I’ve been making 90% of all of our bread, bagels, pitas, buns and pizza crusts from scratch since I first got my stand mixer in 2008. In a little over 4 years, I’ve managed to kill two mixers, even though I’ve been careful not to go over the flour capacity (14c for white flour or 8c for whole wheat).
Obviously, the KitchenAid 6oo isn’t designed with frequent bread making in mind, so I’ve toyed with the idea of upgrading to their 7 quart commercial model. I’m more than a little leery of dropping $650 or more on a mixer when I’ve had such crappy luck with the next model down though. Plus, with 4 growing kids, I’d really like something in the 10-12 quart range so I can skip a few more days between batches of dough. I know I could knead by hand, but between homeschooling and writing, that’s probably not going to happen very often. I can’t help but wish that the mixer fairy would drop a Hobart by my back door . . . Don’t worry; I’m not holding my breath.
If any of you bake A LOT of bread, I’d love to know what your experiences have been with stand mixers. Since my dream mixer costs more than my last car (not joking), I need to find something else that will work!