Personally, one of the toughest thing about making bread is the kneading part. My hands get so tired just after a few minutes of kneading so I gave up and bought one of the Japanese bread machine to relief me of my hand kneading efforts. If you are interested, you can read my Japanese bread machine review here.
However, if you are particular about your bread and insist on using ovens rather than bread making machine, you might want to just consider a dough making machine. It takes away the kneading part of bread making without sacrificing your control of the actual baking process. Below is what is think is the best dough kneader machine or mixer for the home.
Best bread machine just for kneading
In my humble opinion, the best bread machine just for kneading is Zojirushi Virtuoso. Before telling you the features of this machine, it is important to know that the most important thing in such a machine to make sure the dough is actually being kneaded. There are mixers in the market that claims that it is kneading dough but I see them being stuck on the paddle and taken for a nice ride without being kneaded. Alternatively, the dough might climb up the hook and stay there for the duration of the kneading.
This is why I like the Zojirushi Virtuoso because it uses two paddles instead of one and they turn in opposite directions after a minute of kneading. This plus the fact that the dough is pushed against the walls ensure that it is not being hidden in some parts of the machine without being kneaded on.
When using the Zojirushi Virtuoso, I find that it does heat up the dough somewhat which makes it dry. To remedy this issue, use cold water as instructed rather than the usual room temperature water. After the kneading process, the temperature will rise to exactually what you need for active dry yeast activation and fermentation. You must understand this is a Japanese appliance so we need to change some of our usual baking habits to be in line with how the Japanese environment works.
Best mixer for dough kneading
If you do not want to use a bread machine for dough kneading, another option is to consider a mixer but they are tricky to use since they are never meant for dough kneading. If you want to use them, you can a lot of control over different stages of the dough development to have good results.
One mixer that I hear very good reviews on Kitchenaid 4.5 model. With the dough hook attachment, it can help to knead dough rather effectively, even stiff ones. However, do note that using mixer to knead dough takes a lot of your motor. If you intend to do it continuously, it might invalid your warranty as the company classifies dough kneading as for commercial use.
However, this is not a unique problem among home mixers. Unless you venture into commercial mixers that are rather expensive, you have to bear with this regardless of the different brands.
- Use slow settings during the first few minutes to mix the ingredients
- Use higher speed to develop the dough but always watch the development carefully
Machine kneading vs hand kneading
Before signing off, let share my experience of machine vs handing kneading. Besides being tired, a good thing about hand kneading is seeing first hand how the dough develops as it is being kneaded. If you have not kneaded dough before and try to use a machine, you will often be surprised at the results, or rather the lack of good results.
The important in dough kneading is to make sure the gluten development is done well and that needs an experience eye. Even the most experience bakers will regularly check the dough when using timer just to eye the development of the dough.
So, if you asked me which method, I will say to start off with hand kneading to learn the basic of dough development. Once you are comfortable with eyeing the dough to gauge its development, then you can use the machine. By then, you will be able to gauge the timing on the machine using your own experience, rather than relying on what is written in the instruction booklet.
If you are looking for the best dough kneading machine for home, use a bread machine. It puts less stress on the motor and the kneading is probably better. However, if you only bakes bread occasionally and wants a more general kitchen appliance then buying a mixer is fine.