Sir Mix-a-Lot

I used to say that bread kneading by hand was a great way to vent stress and anxiety after a long day at the computer. But I have just learned something very important: watching your brand new KitchenAid stand mixer knead that same dough can be just as, if not more, cathartic. After years of insisting that this appliance was just a pricey gadget I could get along without, we have become fast friends and I suspect are unlikely to part ways anytime soon.

Anxious to get things swirling, I mixed up a starter for my usual King Arthur French Baguettes before heading to bed last night. On reflection, however, this recipe didn’t seem quite difficult enough to christen the new arrival. Did I recall a bread recipe that required kneading until “your upper arms are strapless gown-ready”? I did. Unable to waste my already-started starter,  New York Deli Rye was simply added to the production docket.
Though I’d never tried out the rye recipe before, the baguettes have been made in this kitchen a few times already. This batch, however, was one of the best I’ve ever turned out. Perhaps less exhausted by the process than normal, I even felt that my shaping and baking were more professional. The spritzing and slashing and even the whole “ice in the cast iron under the loaves” were all accomplished. (In the case of the slashing of my dear baguettes, accomplished poorly, but I’ll keep practicing. When I did the rye, I fared a bit better. I found that it really helps matters to use just the very tip of a razor and say “aaaaand slash” aloud as you work.)

I don’t think the French need be jealous, but the New Yorkers may have something to fear over here in Baltimore. This is some seriously amazing rye bread. I did have to supplement the machine knead with a little old-fashioned counter work to get the dough a bit less sticky (one whole minute!), but I am quite confident that without a mechanical friend to lend a hand, we would never have gotten close.

Smelling pleasantly of yeasty bread, my kitchen is both toasty and full of potential toast! Now then, what can we mix next?


5 Comments Add yours

  1. Barbara says:

    I’m so happy you finally have a mixer! Happy mixing!! I love mine. I probably don’t use it half as much as you’ll use yours.

  2. Rebecca says:

    Has anyone noticed how recipes now automatically say to mix in the bowl of a stand mixer? Gives the mpression that you can’t do without or use a hand mixer.

  3. Molly says:

    I know exactly what you mean. As someone who previously was left to my own two hands, I’m looking forward to all the comparison baking coming up for me. Aside from the grape focaccia (which was indeed a sticky wicket) I don’t think anything outright failed as result of my previously rustic methods–even where a stand mixer was explicitly called for in the instructions. But just as the food processor reduces kitchen frustrations, so too I suspect does the high-horsepower mixer, elitist kitchen gadget though it may be.

  4. Rebecca says:

    True, a KitchenAid will always trump other methods in ease of prep. But there are many recipes where a hand mixer, even the cheapest one, will work just as well. (Wouldn’t recommend doing everything by hand.) So a little puzzling why there is a new standard in recipes that might be off-putting for those who don’t have the money to invest in a stand mixer, or who have limited experience and think that they can’t try a recipe without one.

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