January 24, 2006
The Rolls of the Kitchen

redrolls.jpgI am an unconfirmed Catholic. My mother stopped taking us to mass when I was about ten. My sister and I continued going sporadically for some years when we visited my grandmother, but it's been a good 20 years since I took Communion and 30 since I confessed. (Never having gone as far as Confirmation, it was many years before I found out you were supposed to go to confession regularly if you wanted to take Communion.) So religiously, a pretty lapsed Catholic. But culturally...that's another story. I'm as good at guilt as any regular attender of mass. Better, in fact.

My latest guilt trip? It's this beautiful shiny red baby. To me, the Kitchenaid mixer is the Rolls Royce of kitchen equipment. Given my meagre salary it's something I've never aspired to owning before becoming a grandmother. (And even then I figured my grandchildren would have to club together to get me one, if I were so lucky as to have grandchildren.) But the Critic earns a good salary. And he's generous. And he loves shiny exciting flashy equipment. So it was like shooting fish in a barrel to hint to him that a Kitchenaid mixer (red please) would be a most welcome Christmas gift. Not only was he generous enough to buy me the mixer, but he was a sucker for the set of attachments that go with it. AND he was extraordinarily imaginative in giving it to me. Rightly assuming that if I saw a huge box under the tree I would guess I had the mixer, he primed me by a) telling me that he had decided not to go all out on presents this year as he may be leaving his high-paying job soon and b) leaving the box in the car. And once I we had opened "all" our presents (and he bought me a lot of others to cover the story) he offered to take the garbage out.

Okay, admittedly at this point alarm bells should have been ringing in my head. But I was a bit dopey and put it down to some weird Christmas spirit. And when he came back up with two big boxes, even THEN I didn't catch on and assumed it was something new for the Boy. I am really dense.

So then I was feeling guilty about asking for an expensive gift (and getting it). AND there was the fact that one of his gifts from me was an electric knife so that I could trick him into carving the turkey.

Very guilty.

I'm going to have to make it up to him on Valentine's day or I'll burst.

The first two times we used my darling were actually on Christmas day - to mix the Critic's stuffing and to whip the cream for our Christmas pudding. It was beautiful. It hums. It dances. It shimmers before me, a delight in red.

And this weekend, I tried out the amazing bread kneading hook. When I first heard about the Kitchenaid mixer's bread kneading hook I was probably about ten or twelve years old and my aunt Betsy was talking about her new machine. New to the yeast-setting-set I looked down my nose at a machine that would take away half the fun of bread-making: the kneading. With the wisdom of years, I have come to realize that the dough needing attachment actually allows you to have your cake and eat it too. The first kneading of a yeast dough is a messy business. Yes, there is satisfaction in bringing a mass of gooey yeast and bread to an elastic lump. But there is also satisfaction in judging it properly through the funnel of your red Kitchenaid mixer for the first time. And the dough is just as elastic and warm when you are done. And when you turn it out on the counter for a second kneading after rising the dough does not stick to the counter and you do not have to spend half an hour cleaning afterwards. And come on, it's another toy - it's FUN!

So here is the recipe for my first loaf of bread in about 20 years too as it happens. I'm going to be experimenting a lot with my new toy, especially in the bread line. Paris has such wonderful bread that it's easy to forget how much joy can be found in an afternoon of making your own bread. So bring on the joy...

Half Whole-Wheat Bread (an amalgam of two recipes from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)

3 cups whole-wheat flour
3 cups white flour, plus about a cup extra for kneading
1 cup hot water plus 1/4 cup lukewarm
1 cup milk, scalded
2 Tbs unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs sugar
2 1/2 tsp dry yeast (one package)

Put the butter and salt in the scalded milk (while it is still hot) and stir. Add the hot water, stir and let cool to lukewarm. (The butter should melt completely into the milk and water.) In the meantime, stir the sugar into the 1/4 cup lukewarm water in the bowl of your Kitchenaid mixer and sprinkle the yeast over the top evenly. After five minutes, it should be puffed and double in size. If it's not, your yeast is not active and you should start that part over with fresh yeast, water and sugar.

Once the milk mixture has cooled to lukewarm, add it to the yeast. Add a cup of flour and start the mixer going on a low speed. Gradually add the rest of the whole-wheat flour and begin adding the white flour. As it gets thicker, turn up the speed a bit to setting three or four. You don't need it to be whipped but there is no reason to take several years getting your dough mixed. Keep adding flour until the dough forms a big lump on the hook. Give it a few more minutes for good measure. Turn onto a floured surface and knead for a few minutes, adding a little flour if the dough is sticking to the work surface.

Put the dough in a greased bowl and cover it with a damp towel. Set it to rise for one hour in a warm place. Near a radiator is good. Inside an oven that has a pilot light is ideal but not common here in France. I turn on the oven to 40 degress Celsius, crack the oven door open once it reaches that temperature and turn off the oven. After ten minutes or so, I shut the door to preserve the remaining heat.

After an hour (or less if the dough has already doubled in bulk - it depends on the yeast), punch down the dough and give it another little kneading on a floured surface, say five minutes or so. Shape your dough into whatever form suits your fancy: you can have a rustic round or go for a conventional loaf, as I did. If you are using a bread pan, grease it before putting the dough in it.

Put the dough back in a warm place to rise again. Do not - as I did - put the bread pan on the lower rack with only a couple of centimeters of space to the next rack. Your dough will rise up and stick to the rack above and you will be very sad as I was. My bread did not turn out as light as I would have liked and I put it down to this little indiscretion, which led me to taking the dough out, kneading it again and starting the rising process all over. I didn't have the time to let it rise a full hour from that point, so the bread was a bit dense. Though that could be the whole-wheat too.

Ten minutes before the bread finishes rising, preheat the oven to 220C/450F. Bake the bread for fifteen minutes at this high temperature and then lower to 190C/375F. Bake another 30 minutes (so 45 minutes total) and take out when it is nicely browned on top and sounds a bit hollow when tapped with a wooden spoon. The bread will have pulled away from the edges of the pan slightly too.

Turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Slice only once it has cooled a bit (though it's lovely to have your first slice when it's still warm enough to melt the butter you slather over it). If you want a crusty bread, allow it to cool completely before putting in a bag to store. If you want a soft crust, cover it with a towel while it is cooling. And enjoy!

Although the total amount of time expended on bread-making seems enormous, the actual time you spend working on it is pretty short: 10 minutes getting the dough together and five minutes kneading it. Then you wait an hour, in which you can go shopping, watch TV, clean or play with the boy. Then another ten to fifteen minutes kneading and shaping. Another hour of leisure while it rises again. And then you bake it. Easy-peasy as my stepdaughter would say. And so very delicious! It prompted me to make a lovely Broccoli and Stilton soup for dinner on Sunday, just so we would have an excuse for bread and butter. And the house smelled wonderful for hours afterwards.

This is a habit I need to keep up.

Posted by Meg in Sussex at January 24, 2006 2:57 PM | TrackBack Print-friendly version
Comments

That's entirely the wrong sort of mixer. It should be green. :)

What a great present! I bought the Redhead a mixer for Christmas our first year in Chicago, but I seem to have used it more than she. Of course she gets to enjoy the products of the KitchenAid industrial process.

She has been using it more frequently recently. I found a batch of chocolate chip cookies when I came home last night, and she made a beer bread that didn't quite come out right, texture-wise, but that tasted great.

I prefer not to think of the KitchenAid mixer as a Rolls-Royce product but as a workhorse. I'll never be able to afford a Rolls-Royce, but I will always have a KitchenAid.

Posted by barrett on January 24, 2006 at 4:43 PM

Why would anyone want a green one when fire-engine red exists? The Critic toyed with the idea of a chrome one to go with the theme of our kitchen until he saw the price tag. (There is a limit to his fascination with chrome, though it's a pretty high one...)

I am glad, though. I love the red one. And it matches the red poppies on our kitchen tiles.

Green would have clashed with the light green tiles (as seen in the photo) i am sure.

For me it's a Rolls because it's a lot more expensive than similar products, it's smooooth and runs forever and it's a classic. I loved reading the documentation, which was very short and basic. If your machine is not adjusted correctly (reading between the lines: this is almost inconceivable) here is what you do to adjust the height. Oiling the machinery: this is so well made you should not ever need to oil the machinery. It's certainly not a VW bug!

Posted by Meg in Paris on January 24, 2006 at 4:51 PM

Here is the deal, Meg--it may be more expensive--but it will last you forever. The one that I have that Zak and I got from his parents for a wedding present twelve years ago has been through all sorts of hell and about six moves. I have used it for all sorts of heinous things, and it works beautifully. (BTW--Barrett--it is green, too!)

But, Zak discovered when he took to making artisanal breads with it, that the stiffer bread doughs were too harsh on the motor. We learned from a baker friend of ours here in Athens that when ours was bought, all the gears in those models were high impact plastic--not metal. Recently, Kitchenaid went back to all metal gears.

We are going to take the green one to get it refurbished, and use it for smaller jobs.

Because--ta da! Zaks parents wanted to get us something really nice for our new kitchen for my 40th birthday, so the bought me the most powerful Kitchenaid on the market, in bronze so it matches the kitchen, and with a meat grinder and sausage stuffer attachment.

I used it to make bread for its first outing--it is amazing. Puts it all together in no time at all. A beautiful machine.

What will happen with the green one? Well, it will live in the teaching kitchen until Morganna gets her own home, and then I will give it to her.

And I suspect, that she will give it to her own child in time....

Posted by Barbara on January 24, 2006 at 4:57 PM

Meg, This isn't a gift you hope to GET from your grandchildren, it's something you will leave them in your will! I've been using mine for 35 years now and it's still going strong - original dough hook, splash guard, and all.

Posted by Marianne on January 24, 2006 at 5:32 PM

There must be something in the water - baking bread abounds! Anyway, your gift looks amazing and shiny and beautiful and I love the fact that you've already gotten such good use out of it. Isn't it lovely getting useful presents that also make your heart sing? Anyway, happy cooking.

Posted by Luisa on January 24, 2006 at 10:16 PM

I was given a fire engine red magimix last christmas. Made in France, this ferrari has a 10 year guarantee on the motor.

A red kitchen aid is next on santa's shopping list!

Posted by pussy on January 25, 2006 at 6:06 AM

Heh. Here I am procrastinating from going to hand mix sandwich bread dough and what do I see? Talk about guilt!! And I'm not even Catholic.

Okay okay, I'm going! Can I borrow your beautiful new mixer? The red would go PERFECTLY in our kitchen!

-Elizabeth

(Our sandwich bread is very similar to your recipe except I substitute olive oil for the butter and don't bother scalding the milk - apparently the milk scalding is only necessary if you are using raw milk. I gather that the heat processing on milk that most of us buy at the store is enough to destroy the enzyme that inhibits yeast growth)

Posted by ejm on January 25, 2006 at 6:52 AM

Barbara, the box says "all-metal construction" so hopefully I've got one of the new ones. I should have done some research before dropping my hint, perhaps!

Mar, I will be letting your new little granddaughter know to expect a KitchenAid from her grandma!

Pussy, I am storing a Magimix for a friend in my basement storage and you have no idea how tempting it is to move it up to the kitchen!

Elizabeth, I've always wondered about the scalding issue. Both of my grandmothers had a number of little rituals that seem awfully quaint (and time-consuming) today. The Austrian grandmother used to crack each and every egg she used into a separate saucer before putting them in whatever dish she was making. I also skip her step of meticulously inspecting each lentil before putting it in her soup...though I have to admit I have once or twice ended up with a small stone in my spoon!

So next time perhaps I'll be brave and bold and use cold milk and olive oil! I think as long as I use butter, though, I may as well scald the milk so it will serve to melt the butter...

Posted by Meg in Paris on January 25, 2006 at 7:41 AM

I just stumbled on your site, and I got a KitchenAid for Christmas this year too! And I have all the exact same feelings regarding same: Longing to own one for well over a decade (and I'm only 31), complete inability to afford one, hinting towards the gifting of one, not really expecting anyone to actually shell out that kind of cash for little ole me, uncomfortable mix of elation and guilt when my in-laws presented me with a chrome/grey one (hey, it goes with everything and doesn't show dirt). And then the scrambling to make absolutely everything I possibly could with it. I baked so much bread, I ran out of flour in a weekend. And the New Years egg nog. Oh! The Nog! Incredible! So easy! So light and fluffy! The cloud-like whites so well-incorporated with the paddle attachment! Neither deflated nor tenuously floating on top!

It sits on my kitchen island (well, rolling bar table that sits in the middle of the kitchen), gleaming, ever at the ready, strong and silent. I pet it every time I pass it to get to the fridge. Oh my KitchenAid, how I love you so!

I'm so glad to hear I'm not alone in these rapturous yet mixed feelings.

Posted by Cressida on January 25, 2006 at 11:39 AM

Be brave, Meg! You can use hot water to melt the butter. When I do use butter for bread baking (for making raisin bread or naan) I use the water to melt the butter.

Heh. I am like your Austrian grandmother and always crack eggs separately as well. It's so much easier to fish shell out. (Ever since I saw the original "Sabrina" on a TV late night movie I always have to crack eggs one-handed. Yup, it's all Audrey Hepburn's fault.)

I actually use powdered milk. I also boil water to add to cold to get the lukewarm water for proofing the yeast. I gather it is NOT a good idea to use water from the hotwater tap. As I understnad it, there is the possibility of toxins that have built up in the hotwater tank.

Apparently, they (that ubiquitous 'they') say you don't have to proof yeast anymore either as long as you are using it before its "best before" date. But I still like to because I love seeing the yeast bubble up. :-)

-Elizabeth

Posted by ejm on January 25, 2006 at 11:51 AM

Oh my dear, there's no need for guilt here. Certainly, at first, it feels like plenty of money. But you will never run out of uses for this lovely tool, and you will never be without it. Someone gave me one ten years ago, and I've lugged it back and from to New York in my moves across the country. I'll never be without it.
Enjoy!

Posted by shauna on January 25, 2006 at 1:34 PM


I've always found my KA just awesome. It was a great day when my wife bought it for me as a present. However, as I baked more I would frequently find myself attending to the mixer with cold towels to keep it from over heating as I mixed extra large batches of dough! My wife then did what I didn't think possible and gave me another mixer that I love even more. A magic mill deluxe http://www.magicmillusa.com/images/items/large/Magic_Mill_DLX_2000.jpg. Both mixers are works of art both functionally and aesthetically. The Magic Mill operates so much differently that everyone that sees it in operation has to come over and watch it for a while. Plus you can mix obscene amounts of heavy dough in it!

Posted by tjs on January 25, 2006 at 2:19 PM

Mine is cobalt blue and I love it. I saved up all my credit card points to buy it a couple of years ago. I've gotten the grinder and the pasta maker attachments - have used the former but not the latter. My folks got me an extra bowl for it for Christmas this year, which is such a treat if you're doing a lot of cooking at one time.

Posted by Jules on January 25, 2006 at 4:52 PM

Meg--fear not. KA went back to all steel construction two years ago, or a year ago, so I am sure you have one of the good ones.

BTW--did y'all know that KitchenAid is made by the same folks who make Hobarts--which are the big honkin' mixers that they use in professional bakeries for batches of 100 loaves of bread?

What is cool about them is that they look like giant KA's--only they don't come in cool colors.

But they are as tall as I am, and you could bathe a couple of kids in the bowls. Working with them was like being in a Maurice Sendak book or something! It was cool!

Posted by Barbara on January 25, 2006 at 11:43 PM

I couldn't agree more! I'm in love with my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer, and it too is red! So many things to make - so little time.

Love reading your blog.

Posted by Monkey House on January 26, 2006 at 4:14 PM

I have the same KA mixer, but mine's in black. By the way, that mixer is 4.5 quarts right? But yours have a handle, just like mine. I thought 4.5 quart mixers dont' have handels in the bowls. ...

Posted by fawn on September 30, 2006 at 1:38 AM

I have had my Cobalt Blue KitchenAid Ultra Power Stand Mixer for about four years now and this machine was worth every cent. It has mixed everything from cookies and cakes to bread and mashed potatoes. I have read about the drive gear problems with these older models so I don't over stress it. Good luck with yours and may it serve you as well as mine. By the way does anyone have the ice cream maker attachment? I was wondering who well it works and if it is worth the money.

Posted by Angel Elf on March 7, 2007 at 11:36 AM

I have had my Cobalt Blue KitchenAid Ultra Power Stand Mixer for about four years now and this machine was worth every cent. It has mixed everything from cookies and cakes to bread and mashed potatoes. I have read about the drive gear problems with these older models so I don't over stress it. Good luck with yours and may it serve you as well as mine. By the way does anyone have the ice cream maker attachment? I was wondering how well it works and if it is worth the money.

Posted by Angel Elf on March 7, 2007 at 11:43 AM

Awesome article.

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