The Fresh Loaf

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Oh no, not another Bosch vs Ankarsrum thread:)

GV's picture
GV

Oh no, not another Bosch vs Ankarsrum thread:)

Hi, 

I'm a home baker, never bake more than 2 loaves but my usual is just a single loaf. I want to bake a variety of hydration (from bagel to ciabatta) and types of breads (lean SD to Brioche). I'm ok spending up to $1000 so. If the mixer can whip up meringue & cake batter, that's a plus but the determining factor is bread dough. Ease of cleaning is important for me. After several hours on TFL and elsewhere, the consensus seems to be that Ankarsrum and Bosch universal are the top choices (if there's another one I missed, please LMK!). I've seen people say that Bosch does not work for small batches, but further research says that if you buy the bottom drive it works well for small batches. So that seems to be equal too. With the bottom drive, the price is also basically even.

 

The only differentiation I could find was this: they recommend the dough roller on the Ankarsrum for small batches, and it looks like you have to futz with the dough roller position for small batches - this seems like a PITA to get right, plus I'd like to start the mixer and do other things while it mixes instead of constantly futzing with it.

So finally - I'm leaning towards the bosch+bottom drive. Any advice? Thanks!

semolina_man's picture
semolina_man

Have you ruled out a Kitchen Aid?  I hold the view that the trusty Kitchen Aid stand mixer (I prefer bowl-lift models) is the most widely capable of this class of mixer.  

Meringue, whipped cream, mashed potatoes, cake batter and bread are all done well in the Kitchen Aid. 


I see shortcomings in the Bosch and the Ankarsum when requiring all of the above use cases.

 

Cleaning a Kitchen Aid is easy.  Through the attachment and bowl in the dishwasher, and wipe down the mixer. 

aliqout's picture
aliqout

Kithen Aid mixers can't really handle stiff doughs like bagels. I burned out three Kithen Aids in three years before switching to the Bosh, and its been going strong for 8 years now. 

One drawback to the Bosh is the cheap plastic cookie and cake paddles that break if your butter is colder than 20° C, but for bread there is no contest. 

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

I’ve been using KA bowl lift for at least 20 yrs. It’s simply not true that you can’t make stiff dough bagels etc. I regularly make a double batch of bagels using the formula Susan posted on her blog  Wild Yeast.  

I gave my original KA to my daughter and she uses it for her family of 5. I bought a rebuilt from Mr .Mixer. He’s amazing and warranties his rebuilds. There isn’t any reason to buy new and in fact the rebuilt old KA will bury everything new in short order. 

https://www.mrmixer.store/mixers?gad_source=1&gclid=Cj0KCQjwpZWzBhC0ARIsACvjWRNeDTXcW_6qRs6Avxlaw6zszsUr-uRAhc_NxBmoeDzV-AurNARD7W8aAklxEALw_wcB

 

There is every reason to get a rebuilt  KA and no reason to spend anything close to a grand on a mixer. c

Moe C's picture
Moe C

Since GV has thoroughly researched mixers, I'd assume (s)he has ruled out KA for a reason. The old ones might be a different story, but I would not recommend a new KA for the reason already mentioned. It does not handle heavy, lean dough well and the manufacturer says it's not supposed to run above speed 2 for any dough. The Pro600 I have is too big for mixing small quantities of anything--say, whipping two egg whites.

Having said that, I have no experience to recommend either of the other two under consideration.

justkeepswimming's picture
justkeepswimming

As I continue into the whole aging process, certain joints complain a little more than they used to when they have to lift heavier items. It's not an issue if the mixer will be living on the counter, but may eventually be a consideration later in life. From other forums I participate in, users seem equally happy with either brand as far as mixing is concerned. 

FWIW, I have been using a Bosch compact (all plastic so light weight and a small footprint) for the last 4 years. Sadly they don't make them anymore. I bake two - three 2# sandwich loaves/week, and it continues to serve me well. 

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

GV,  I had the original bosh universal  ( prior to the Plus ) and the Bosch Concept  ( and stilrl have and use the Bosch Compact) and still have an Ank.  IMO,  setting the roller on the Ank is extremely easy.  The Bosch is lighter and easier to move, the Ank is much heavier and the bowl is SS and feels very commercial, though easy to clean.  To me, the Ank gets the nod over the Bosch  ( though I never had the bottom drive bowl on the Bosch)  because the Ank is so well constructed, never had any problem with any dough hydration that I used, and I really love the timer, you can set it and come back when it is done, no worries about it walking around the counter.

AmrMostafa's picture
AmrMostafa

I mainly make bread & pizza, and I've recently got  the Ank and have made the following with it: Pizza dough (~69% hydration), High hydration bread (80%), and cake batters. For pizza & dough, I've made as little as 500g total dough weight, and as much as 3kg dough.

I've also had the KA before the Ank.

My experience is that the Ank open top design is extremely versatile and so much safer, especially for batters where you add ingredients "on the go" - it's on a whole different level, it also seemed to mix the batter just fine. That said, I've only made about 4-5 cakes with it, and that's it.

When it comes to Pizza or medium hydration (~60-70%) it performed extremely well, completely unattended, and handled small amounts & large amounts just fine. Again, so much better than the KA, not just convenience / safety this time but also the end result: I was getting mixed results with the KA, with the Ank it's pretty consistent.

Finally, and where both units disappoint: the high hydration bread dough, which is my main target. The KA's hook just seems to swim around the dough doing nearly no kneading. The Ank seems to engage the dough a lot better, but no matter what I tried with its roller or hook attachments, the dough doesn't develop well enough. I got lucky maybe once or twice though and got beautiful results, so I definitely agree with the point of view that the Ank is probably capable, but is a PITA to get right, or Ank are not doing great on consumer education and riding on the apparent interest in the product.  

 

I've not heard about the bottom drive Bosch before, checked a couple of videos and not impressed with the dough that comes out at the end of the vids I checked.

Benito's picture
Benito

I have no experience using a Bosch, but I can say that I love my Ankarsrum Assistent that I’ve now had for over 1.5 years after my KA’s gears started to go.  The Ankarsrum Assistent can do anything the KA can do but better in my opinion.  In terms of bread dough, it develops the dough very well and without as much friction so it is more gentle and doesn’t heat the dough nearly as much as the KA would.  The roller really isn’t that fiddly. Once the dough is mixed a bit I set the roller and then don’t need to touch it again very often at all.  There is a learning curve, but I’ve found that the dough is more developed than it looks.  So I stop the mixer and feel the dough and have learned what my dough looks like as it develops.  The dough develops gluten as quickly as the KA does and does a much better job as bassinage than my KA even did.

For cakes, cookies, meringues and whipped cream, the Ankarsrum Assistent uses a different bowl and different attachments.  These work extremely well and don’t have a learning curve, they work as expected.

I have no regrets about my decision to buy an Ankarsrum Assistent, it should last a lifetime and works extremely well.  It is a plus that it also looks great in my kitchen and comes in great colours.

Benny

GV's picture
GV

| There is a learning curve, but I’ve found that the dough is more developed than it looks. 

My experience is the same, now that I re-read Benito's post. The dough does develop more than it looks, that seems accurate. Good observation to keep in my mind.

GV's picture
GV

(Sorry, went on vacation, came back with  covid, now all right and getting back into life):

Update:

I went ahead and ordered both the Bosch Universal (with the stainless steel bowl *and* the dough hook extension), and the Ankarsrum. Both are presumed to do well on large batches based on googling, therefore my first test for both was  small batch performance.

I made my typical dinner focaccia loaf with 300g flour, ~75% hydration (double hydration, adding about 10% in the second hydration). Bosch just failed miserably. With the dough hook extender, it did nothing. Without, it did nothing. I tried the stainless steel bowl as well - that did a little bit more than nothing, but nowhere was it developing the dough in anyway. After 10-15 mins of trying to coax into something productive, I gave up and did the rest by hand. That was that, that's going back.

I spent at least 2 hours watching videos and reading up on how to use the Ank. Despite that, my first focaccia was not a success. Second time, I got the hang of it, but getting it to absorb the water on the second hydration just failed. I had to muck with the dough roller by hand for a good 2 mins to get it to absorb the water. Then it went back to doing its thing and produced good focaccia. The double hydration part is a failure. Then I baked the best loaf of brioche I have ever baked (I'm jealous of those Japanese store "tall breads". I will take the Pepsi challenge with them, with a brioche no less now!). Also tried my world-famous 100% Type 85 sandwich loaf. The sandwich loaf was far too soft for me, it was never ever this soft before. Maybe I need to knead more to make it chewier, but an improved mix is an improved mix so I'm not very sure. Either way, with nannying, it clearly does the job. 

Overall, I'm reasoanbly happy with the Ank. I wish it'd be more double-hydration-friendly. And that Brioche leaves me fulfilled in life, finally. I have tried meditation, yoga, pills, therapy. Nothing has worked so far, but this helped:)

On a roll: someone in another thread mentioned KA pro (650 watt). I checked their site, there's no such thing anymore. But I found a commercial 8qt/900-watt beast. They claim it does small batches well, there's some video of someone making a single loaf. I ordered that too. Waiting to unwrap that baby.

 

Benito's picture
Benito

I’m impressed that you’re reasonably happy with the Ankarsrum Assistent after only two uses.  I found the learning curve much longer than that for me.  Getting butter added to a dough was one of the challenges, adding super soft butter, not just room temperature, did the trick for me. 

I have found bassinage to be great with the Ankarsrum Assistent so I wonder how you did it to have a problem.  I very frequently do a bassinage, second addition of water, especially when I make baguettes.  I just add small aliquots of water at a time to the bowl while the Ankarsrum Assistent is running.  How are you doing it?

Benny

GV's picture
GV

That Brioche. I'm still in shock I baked that, which is part why I'm reasonably happy after 2 uses:) The prep with videos helped:) Someone had specifically said that butter incorporation is a pain unlike with KA, and suggested soft butter. That's what I did straightaway:)

Benito, you may have solved my problem! I just dumped in the second batch of water, that was just a bloody mess with the dough just sitting there while everything is just being splashed around (I had to muck with it by hand to get over that and absorb the water). Adding a little bit at a time should fix it! I'll go make another batch of focaccia today and see. Thanks, will post back.

 

Benito's picture
Benito

I believe that the Ankarsrum Assistent mixes using the roller much like hand mixing.  If you approach it that way it does an incredible job.  So bassinage during hand mixing you would add small amounts of water and mix until each aliquot of water has been absorbed.  Just do the same with bassinage using the Ankarsrum Assistent and you’ll see it does a fabulous job.  Did you post your brioche, if you haven’t you should share it with us.

Benny

GV's picture
GV

A full 6 inches tall (well, 5.9:)) in a 4 inch pan! I'm not sure it passes the test in TFL, but certainly the most brioche-like brioche I've baked:) The lighting is off, but the crumb is the perfect brioche-yellow. (Unfortunately I didn't have proper storage, so all the loaves are in a bin & the brioche got smushed sideways a bit).

Benito's picture
Benito

Lovely crumb and I can definitely see the yellow hue in it.

I’m glad that the bassinage works now for you, just think of this as hand mixing.  Also stop the Ankarsrum Assistent periodically and feel the dough.  You’ll find that it is more developed than it might look.

GV's picture
GV

Thanks!

This was one of my questions actually. I still can't figure out what's improved mix in the Ank (which is my default for pretty much anything I bake except Brioche and the like). It does seem to develop more quickly that it looks. It almost feels like I need to re-learn mixing and dough development from scratch. 

GV's picture
GV

Right, that worked like a charm with slow addition! Thanks, Benito! 

I have more questions on using the Ank. I suspect I will start a new thread, very specific question on speed & roller position. I've read up and watched videos up the wazoo but still not clear on a few things:)

JonJ's picture
JonJ

A great advert for the Ankarsrum!

-Jon

GV's picture
GV

Thanks, Jon!

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

GV,  I never had much success with bassinage using the Ank, but my understanding was that bassinage was primarily to allow the mixer to develop gluten with a lower hydration dough, and that once you did develop the gluten, you added the held back water.  Instead,  I just added all the water at once and never had a problem with the Ank bulding up the gluten -  even at 100% hydration,  though I normally autolyse first.

GV's picture
GV

Never tried that will do! I'm very curious whether it can do that.

However, my understanding (I'm not the world expert:)) of the science for double hydration is as follows: Gluten development takes a long time if the dough is too dry or too wet. A long kneading period atleast oxidizes the dough a lot more (there may be other negative effects on dough as well, but I'm not sure about those). This hurts flavor. Therefore, develop the dough with "reasonable" hydration and then add more water, which keeps the entire kneading time shorter. 

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

I don't know that I disagree that you want to avoid overoxidation.  If you do an autolyse, at least for me, that makes for quick gluten development.  This site, saying that it is quoting Hamelman, is that is often difficult for planetary mixers to develop gluten for high hydration doughs, and bassinage is a technique to overcome that limitation. https://dawghousebakery.com/2021/05/25/bathing-your-dough-bassinage/   Interestingly,  that site says that some do it at the end of kneading, others add the extra water during bulk fermentation as part of folding.   

GV's picture
GV

Yeah, this may be a complicated one and who knows what the "main reason" for this is. It's possible that some type of mixers can't handle this wet a dough, it is also possible that when you "make it do so" it degrades/overoxidizes the dough because the machine is kneading for so long. Next year, I am hoping to take Artisan III in SFBI with Didier Posada. I can try ask him this in person:)

Either way, I'll definitely try non-bassinage for fun. I am thinking I'll measure how long it takes to develop with all the water in, and in a separate experiment, knead dough to same development but with bassinage. Would be good data to have, because of the general rule of "more time under the hook (roller?) = more oxidation". Now, I don't know if the Ank oxidizes the dough as much as other mixers. In my bread machine, once I kneaded lean dough to full sheeting and made bread. I used a preferment and all, but it didn't matter - it looked way whiter and tasted worse than improved mix+folds, and that was the last time I did that to lean dough:)