Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Part II: Bosch vs. Kitchen Aid

OK, I have played around with the Bosch Universal Plus mixer for a few weeks now, using it for a variety of mixing needs, so I feel that I can give a (somewhat) educated opinion of how it measures up.

Bowl - The professional Kitchen Aid (KA) comes with a stainless steel bowl that has a handle (yeah... we love the handle when we are transferring the contents to another dish). The smaller KA had a palm-sized "foot" that you used to lock it into the mixer... the foot was very handy to hold on to when I dumped the contents out... even though it wasn't a true handle. The Bosch came with a plastic bowl, but the ss bowl is also available. Since my husband is so great, he also purchased the ss bowl. I love ss, but unfortunately, the Bosch ss bowl does not have a handle which did make it tricky holding on to it while I was scraping out the contents. The plastic bowl already had a couple of strikes against it in my mind (because it was plastic), but after using it, I have to digress. It has a bit of a different design than the ss in that it has a lip that goes all around the top edge of the bowl. This lip makes it super easy to hang on to when transferring contents. Also, even though it is plastic, it is a nice, heavy duty, plastic that is not flimsy at all. The one weird thing that I will mention, is that the Bosch bowls have a "cone" that sticks up from the middle of them. This is where the beaters attach and they are controlled by the motor which is underneath the bowl. The cone really isn't a problem cleaning, but it is different and it takes some getting used to.

Splash guard - I purchased a splash guard for my smaller KA, but the professional one came with it. It is a clear plastic that sits on top of the bowl and has a spout that allows you to pour ingredients into the bowl while mixing. The splash guard does not attach securely to the bowl, making it very easy to dislodge. It also doesn't do that great of a job preventing splashes. In fact, when I make butter, I have to take a large tea towel and drape completely over my mixer and splash guard to keep buttermilk from spattering all over my kitchen. The Bosch motor controls the beaters from underneath rather than the top of the bowl. Because of this design, the splash guard that comes with it is actually a lid. It is clear plastic and it fastens securely on top of the bowl. There is no mess, no splatters, and best of all.... it guards against any little fingers getting ripped off and mixed into the batter.... Only by the Lord's grace have my children escaped "helping" mix without losing some fingers because of the race to be the first one to taste the cookie dough!

Multi-tasking - Because of the beaters being "exposed" on the KA, I can not really turn my back on the machine because of keeping a watchful eye on my kiddos and their fingers... In addition, if I am working with any kind of "stiff" dough, the machine will "walk", so I have to be aware of it walking off of the counter. Of course, you could prevent this by setting the mixer in the sink...  With the Bosch, it does not walk, the beaters are not exposed, and I am able to get other things done around the kitchen without "babysitting" the mixer.

Beaters - The KA came with metal beaters, dough hooks, and whisks. The Bosch came with metal whisks and dough hooks. Cookie paddles are sold separately and the attachment for the paddles is metal, but the paddles themselves are plastic. My great hubby also purchased the cookie paddles.... ummmm probably because he really loves cookies he really loves me. I was skeptical about the cookie paddles because of them being plastic... but I have to digress again, they are super sturdy and do a great job. The thing with the Bosch, is that the design allows for a 2-sided dough hook, 2 whisks, and 2 cookie paddles. The KA has one of each. You wouldn't think that it would make a difference, but it really does. The whipping, mixing, beating, and kneeding with the Bosch is fantastic... and YES... I could tell the difference. They say in bread making that the double hook helps really develop the gluten (whatever that means). The motor handled my dough like a breeze and the bread rose wonderfully... despite it being like 20 degrees outside. So maybe there is something to this "gluten developing thing". I also made some brownies ( has a great, healthier brownie recipe that I've used for quite awhile now). Mixing it with the Bosch made them even better than they were before. Probably because I mixed them up a lot longer because I was distracted multi-tasking, knowing that little fingers weren't getting in the beaters! I also made butter the other day with the Bosch. I've been making butter weekly for about a year now. I've tried every tip out there to get it done faster, but no matter what, it is going to take about 20 or 30 minutes to turn the cream into butter. And then, I have to clean up the thoroughly splattered, red, mixer.  I really didn't expect the Bosch to decrease the time for butter making, but I was excited that I wasn't going to splatter up my kitchen because the lid is really a LID! But, the butter was done in about 10-15 minutes! I am attributing this to having a double sided whisk... but what do I know? All I know, was that it was much faster and the clean up was quicker!

Attachments - I can't speak much about this, as I don't have a lot of them. I have the pasta making attachments for the KA, and I love them. Bosch also has them available, but I don't have them. I have the blender attachment for the Bosch and I love it... but there could be some improvements. First, it is a clear plastic... for the money, why can't it be glass? Also, there isn't a pour spout. However, it does pour out smoothies just fine. The metal blades are quite sturdy and sharp, and the base that the blender fits in to is also a metal attachment. However, at the bottom of the blender (that has the part that fits into the metal thingy that will spin the blades) is not metal. It would seem that it should also be metal. But so far, so good. I haven't broken it yet and smoothie making with ice tends to give blenders around here a run for their money.

I have read reviews that say the the KA is better for small batches of whatever and the Bosch is better for large, however, I used the KA for large batches of cookie dough all the time and it did fine. However, I have tried the Bosch with a small batch just to see if it was true and I would have to disagree. It did just fine on a small batch. That being said, on my smaller KA, whenever I did a larger batch of cookies or bread dough, the dough would climb up the beater and wrap itself around that little springy thing that the beater attached to and it did make it a bit of a bear to clean up. I also noticed that my smaller KA would leak oil or some type of black stuff from where the beater attaches. I've read reviews where others had similar problems. I did not experience this with the larger KA.

So there you have it... my not-so-professional opinion of Bosch vs. Kitchen Aid. Which one would I recommend? Probably the Bosch. However, if you have a KA already, that doesn't mean chuck it to replace it. I have enjoyed my KA throughout the years. However, if you plan on making a lot of bread, the Bosch definitely wins... hands down. But if you don't have any kind of a mixer yet, I would encourage you to check out the Bosch. Money-wise, the professional KA and the Bosch are similar in price (unless you count a possible trip to the ER to attach a finger that got caught in the KA.... then that makes the Bosch much cheaper)!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Part I: Kitchenaid vs. Bosch... One Mom's Opinion....

I think that it has been about one year since I started making all of our family's bread from scratch.... and from scratch I mean gathering the wheat, cleaning the wheat, grinding the wheat, and THEN making the bread. I do not use a bread machine, but I'm all about utilizing a mixer to mix up the dough! I have owned a Kitchen aid mixer for about a dozen or so years... and I have loved it. However, its bowl was only about 4 quarts which was becoming a challenge for my ever-expanding family. But honestly, the real reason I wanted it to die was because I wanted a RED one! However, my faithful mixer would not die. But as my bread making expanded, my little mixer was not keeping up: the bowl wasn't big enough, the motor wasn't powerful enough, (and it wasn't red.... because I know that the color really makes a difference on performance). So last spring, I decided that I had a good enough reason to upgrade my mixer.

Now, enter in the blogging world of information.... I can't say that I wasn't warned. In nearly every blog of faithful breadmakers, it was recommended that the best mixer to get would be the Bosch Universal Kitchen Machine. Their expertise was that the Kitchen aid would not keep up with the 800 watt motor of the Bosch. Problem: the Bosch isn't RED.... and quite frankly, it isn't really attractive either... I told myself that I had to get the Kitchen aid because I had the pasta attachments for a Kitchen aid (and it comes in red). I mean, the professional model has a 575 watt motor... surely that is good enough right? And it's RED!

So, I saved my pennies and dimes, and for an early birthday gift my generous mother-in-law pitched in and bought me the beautiful, RED, professional model Kitchen aid about 6 months ago (and I gifted my little Kitchen aid to my friend). WOO HOO! Let the bread making begin! I have made dozens of loaves of bread since then with the Kitchen aid, and I hadn't really given the Bosch another thought... until December... when my Kitchen aid DIED right in the middle of my batch of dough! So how did it handle all of the bread making? It was mediocre, but all that was masked by the fact that it is red.  My recipe makes 4 loaves, and I do 2 batches at a time (actually I'm doing 3 batches at a time now). Before I consistently soaked my grains overnight, the Kitchen aid handled the dough OK. The motor did get hot and you definitely could hear it struggling at times, but it always managed to conquer the dough and we were on our merry way to fresh bread. I did have to stand by the mixer and "baby sit" it because if I didn't, it would walk its way off of the counter.  But after I started soaking the grains (which tended to yield a "stiffer" lump of dough to initially work through the next day), the Kitchen aid really started to bog down... culminating in dying right before my very eyes! I was horrified!  Thankfully, Kohls didn't need a receipt to exchange it and my DH was going to town that afternoon anyway and he graciously exchanged my mixer for another, beautiful, RED, Kitchen aid.

Funny thing is: as I unpacked the new, RED, Kitchen aid.... there was this little green card on top that said that the motor had a protective sensor that would shut the machine off if the motor overheated... and if you waited 20 minutes, it would again start..... OOPS.... maybe my first Kitchen aid wasn't broken after all... Oh well. So I continued with my bread making ventures! The very FIRST time I used the NEW Kitchen aid, I was mixing up my second of three batches of bread and it DIED... just like the first mixer! GRRRRRRRRR! This time I figured it was that protective sensor, so I waited 20 minutes.... still no power... 30 minutes... still no power... 40 minutes... 45 minutes... FINALLY, it turned on again. This was not exactly my most efficient experience in bread making! All this time I am lamenting that I didn't listen to all of the wise women's advice on the Bosch! I briefly mentioned to my husband that some time in the far off future, it would be nice to have the Bosch...

Little did I know, my DH decided to surprise me with a Bosch mixer for Christmas!!!!! I was super surprised!!!!  And now that I have used it a fair amount, I thought I would share my opinion of how the 2 mixers "match" up! My DH also got me the blender attachment for the Bosch, so I use the machine nearly every day in some fashion. The blender gets used for kefir smoothies, and I've used the mixer for cornbread, bread, cookies, etc...  It does a fantastic job. It effortlessly mixes stiff bread dough, developed the gluten (my bread did a fantastic job rising... even in the cold of winter), I love the lid that REALLY keeps everything contained while mixing... i.e. - there is not flour flying out over the top of the bowl... and it is easy to run. My 7 year old made double chocolate whole wheat cookies all by herself tonight using it.

So all-in-all, I am loving my Bosch even though it is not red... I will be writing a more detailed side-by-side comparison of the Kitchen aid vs. Bosch in part 2 of this post... coming soon!