Homemade bread. Hot and fresh from the oven. Just a little bit of butter and you could almost eat the whole loaf in one sitting!
There is something very comforting about the smell of yeast bread baking in your home. There is also a great satisfaction that comes with creating a loaf of bread, a real sense of accomplishment. It is different than the pride you feel when you have success with other types of baking.
Making my own breads, particularly Artisanal breads, was one of the reasons I was so excited to work with and review the new KitchenAid 7-Qt. Stand Mixer. This mixer is described as “the largest, most powerful – and quietest – KitchenAid mixer ever offered.” I was especially interested in the commercial features and the capacity to handle larger and more difficult batters and the ability to knead very stiff bread doughs. There have been several projects I have had to abandon in the past because my KitchenAid stand mixer did not have the capacity or horsepower to handle them, so I was ready to put this new mixer to the test to see how it performed.
I did read the instruction booklet for this mixer since it was quite a bit more powerful than the KitchenAid mixer I have been using. This KitchenAid 7-Qt. Stand Mixer will mix everything faster and more efficiently than some other mixers, so you need to be aware of this and adjust mixing or beating times accordingly. In fact, it may take about half the amount of time to do the job, so you need to be careful not to overbeat your cake batters, cookie doughs or other ingredients.
You also need to make adjustments when kneading yeast dough. Many recipes will give you suggested times for kneading with the dough hook on a stand mixer. However, the manual for this KitchenAid mixer tells you to use only “Speed 2” with the Power Knead Spiral Dough Hook. It also says that most yeast doughs will be kneaded sufficiently within 4 minutes. One of my bread recipes calls for a total of 10 minutes of kneading at 2 different speeds, so I knew I would have to experiment with some of these recipes to see how to make the proper adjustments.
I played it safe with the first bread recipe and used KitchenAid’s recipe that was already adapted for this mixer for Basic White Bread. If you have never made homemade white bread, you need to! It is so easy to make and sooo good. For me, it is reminiscent of earlier years when we did not have all the whole grain breads that we do now. Of course, we eat whole grains for health reasons, but there is still something really wonderful about the yeasty taste of freshly baked white bread.
This recipe worked beautifully and we were amazed at how quiet the mixer was, especially considering the horsepower.
My next project was a batch of Cranberry-Chocolate Cookies. These seemed to be fitting for the holiday season. I was very careful to not overbeat the mixture when creaming the butter together with the sugar and other ingredients. It probably did take about half the time as it normally would. These cookies are chock-full of chocolate chips, nuts and cranberries and are especially good when still warm and fresh from the oven! I could have easily doubled or tripled the recipe for these cookies with this mixer. (The recipe for these cookies is below.)
I then decided to prepare a bread recipe that I have never been able to make with my other mixer due to the weight of this particular yeast dough. The recipe is for Rustic Italian Bread and makes 3 large loaves. It begins with a “sponge” (or a starter) and goes through 2 risings and a final proofing before the bread is baked on a baking sheet and then finished on a baking stone to ensure a perfectly crusty and browned loaf.
This recipe was one that called for kneading the dough a total of 8 to 10 minutes. This dough is very stiff, so it is hard to tell when it is the exact time to stop kneading. It seemed to be the right texture at about 6 minutes, so I stopped there. The new KitchenAid 7-Qt. Stand Mixer did a great job with this very stiff dough. I noticed that is slowed down at Speed 2 a few times, indicating just how difficult this dough is, even with a commercial mixer.
The Rustic Italian Bread was a great success and perfect to accompany a huge pan of lasagna for dinner. The texture was even, yet light and airy on the inside and the crust was just a bit crunchy, but still nice and chewy on the outside. It is really difficult to find Italian Bread that you can buy anywhere that comes close to this.
You cannot test a mixer without a great cake recipe, so I chose to make a Bundt cake for our Thanksgiving dessert. This is a large cake and the batter was very dense. Once again, the mixer did an excellent job of thoroughly combining the ingredients. I did use the pouring chute as I was adding ingredients to minimize splatter.
I have been using the beater blades with the rubber scraper on my other mixer, so I was not certain how the regular beater bar would work on this mixer. It seems to do a fine job of incorporating the ingredients. I still suggest that you take a spatula and wipe the bowl down a time or two, just to be certain everything is mixed in properly.
This cake recipe is wonderful for the holiday season, so I will be sharing it with you later this week.
If you are interested in a commercial strength mixer that offers great flexibility (especially combined with the KitchenAid attachments and accessories), this is a perfect choice for a new mixer. It is quiet, strong and versatile and is very attractive on your kitchen counter (especially in the lively cherry red color!).
If you have been a very good boy or girl, maybe Santa will bring you this shiny new Kitchen Aid 7-Qt. Stand Mixer for Christmas this year.
Disclosure – KitchenAid provided me with this stand mixer for my use and review. If you are interested in purchasing this particular 7-Qt. model, it is available exclusively through Williams-Sonoma.
Yield: 2 dozen cookies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
1/2 cup unsalted butter (4 ounces), slightly softened
3/4 cup (5 5/8 ounces) packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
1 cup (4 ounces) dried cranberries
3/4 cup (3 ounces) chopped pecans or walnuts ( I used walnuts)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets or line with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, orange juice, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. Beat in the egg until combined, scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl. Add the flour, mixing until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips or chunks, cranberries, and nuts. Drop by tablespoon onto the prepared baking sheets.
4. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until just beginning to brown around the edges (they won’t look set in the center; that's okay). Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheets.
Recipe is from King Arthur Flour