Reader Chana, a reader and prolific baker, has finally worn out her KitchenAid and is in the market for a new machine. I receive requests for mixer recommendations regularly, but haven’t written on the subject for quite some time. It’s time to update!
The machine I own is a Viking Professional 7-quart, which is a powerhouse and I bought it for that reason. It’s big, it’s heavy, it’s incredibly noisy (leaves my ears ringing, actually) and powers through huge masses of dough. But that’s what I needed at the time. I was baking lots of bread but couldn’t rationalize keeping my old Hobart 20-quart in the kitchen anymore. Power was all I was thinking about and I wasn’t disappointed.
However Viking mixers are pretty poor at finesse. Because it’s designed for big jobs, the implements don’t reach all the way to the bottom of the bowl. The loops of the whip can be bent to reach, but that trick won’t work with the beater. I have to actually unlock the bowl from the base and raise it up to the implement, and that’s a drag (plus a little dangerous). So unless you’re going to supplement with a hand mixer (I just got a KitchenAid Artisan for Christmas, which rocks) I don’t recommend it.
My belief is that you can’t go wrong with a KtichenAid Classic. It has a five quart bowl which is plenty for most jobs and the motors were re-engineered a few years ago for greater power. They’re the home version of the Hobart mixer, a mainstay of professional bakeries everywhere, and a top quality machine. When you factor in that you can usually find a KitchenAid on deep discount from one major retailer or another, it’s a natural choice. The Artisans are also very good, though they cost a little more.
Of course there are a lot of other home machines out there. Most of them cost less but don’t perform as well. I have a friend who swears by Cuisinart stand mixers, however there’s only one non-KitchenAid that’s really knocked my socks off lately: the Breville BEM800XL. It’s a lovely precision machine, plus it’s got lots of power without the noise of the Viking. If I were shopping for another mixer right now, I’d take a serious look at it. Hope that helps, Chana!