Ankarsrum mixers for n00bs?
September 17, 2022 8:23 PM   Subscribe

A very generous friend moving overseas has blessed me with her barely-used Ankarsrum Assistent Original, since she knows my otherwise beloved Kitchen Aid can’t handle my bagel dough. Do you have an Ankarsrum? What does it do best? Is there any kind of a basic beginner’s guide that you know of?

I am able to keep both if I want, and I probably will. I have used one Kitchen Aid or the other for 35 years, since I was an actual kindergartener, so have a good idea of what it’s best at, but have no instinct for this totally different style of mixer.

Thanks for any help/guidance/tips and tricks!
posted by charmedimsure to Food & Drink (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
We have one, switched after wearing out an elderly Kitchnaid and then a Viking mixer with whole wheat bread. With the option, keeping your Kitchenaid for fluffy (mostly sweet) baking and the Ankarsrum for wheat-kneading would be PRETTY NICE. Ank’s center-post bowl for beating is more annoying to get batter out of.

But the indomitable low gear is great for wheat. Set the speed to slow when dropping ingredients into the bowl, and if the knobby white thing isn’t kneading as well as you’d like, switch to the steel thingy shaped sort of like a 5.

(Good thing I don’t write manuals. But seriously, it’s still a stand mixer, you’ve got this.)
posted by clew at 9:00 PM on September 17

Best answer: The Ankarsrum is great for bread and will absolutely be able to handle your bagels! It's nice that you can keep your KitchenAid too; I use the Ankarsrum for bread while keeping my KA for cakes/cookies. I have a long writeup on the Ankarsrum here, including a review and lots of tips for usage. I also recommend the Ankarsrum USA manual. Here's a (still pretty long) summary I wrote up at one point:

  • Excellent for kneading bread dough, as long as you are ok with a slower kneading process
  • Very tough motor, won't burn out on stiff dough or large batches
  • Gentle kneading action will not overheat, overmix or oxidize your dough and is great for rye doughs. Even after kneading bagel dough for 35 minutes (at the 3 o'clock setting with the roller/scraper), my dough only warmed up by 3°F, which is on par with hand kneading rather than a stand mixer.
  • Has a high capacity (up to 21 cups of flour/4.5-5 kg of dough) but also works well for a single loaf (anything between 1 to 7 loaves)
  • Works for low-hydration dough like bagels as well as higher-hydration dough like ciabatta (it's not as efficient with stiffer dough as a spiral mixer is, but it will still work)
  • The open bowl design is great for easily adding ingredients while using the mixer
  • The timer is a nice feature
  • Stable (I have it fairly close to a counter edge, and it's never moved from its spot) and relatively quiet
  • The scraper is helpful for keeping the sides of the bowl clean, though dough tends to get caught behind it, so you'll have to dislodge it periodically and, at the end, scrape down everything in order to get all your dough
  • Not ideal for cakes, cookies, candy, etc. for the following reasons: (1) It will only cream really soft butter, and the more butter warms up, the less air it can hold, which will affect the texture of your cake or cookies. (2) The plastic bowl and gears are easily damaged if you misuse them (see below). (3) The plastic bowl will retain heat, slowing down any tasks involving hot syrups. (4) It's annoying to scrape out the center post of the plastic bowl, and without a handle, it makes it hard to pour batter.
  • As I mentioned, the plastic bowl/gears are easily damaged if you use them for ANYTHING except (with the double-beater whisks) whipping cream/egg whites or (with the single-wire whisks) light, pourable batters. If you make frosting with the double-beater whisks, the gears may strip. If you try to cream butter that isn't really soft, the gears may strip. If you make chocolate chip cookie dough with the single-wire whisks, the gears may strip. If you get hot ingredients up in the gears, they may strip. If you make too large a batch, or too stiff a dough, in the plastic bowl, the bowl may crack. This is all pretty ridiculous, IMO. And even though you can make cookie dough, cake batter, marshmallows, etc. in the stainless steel bowl, if you're trying to make anything requiring aeration, it's just not going to do a top-notch job of it, because it's not really designed for that.
  • The kneading process is slow; this is the flip side of the "pro" above re. the gentleness of the kneading action. The roller and scraper are designed to replicate hand kneading, so calibrate your expectations to that and do not expect any time savings over doing it by hand. If your recipe says it will take 10 minutes to knead by mixer or 15 minutes to knead by hand, expect the Ankarsrum to take about 15 minutes. Personally, I just walk away from the mixer after ingredients are combined and let it work while I clean up, without worrying about overkneading.
  • Has somewhat of a learning curve if you're used to a KitchenAid. That said, just don't expect this mixer to work like a KitchenAid, and it won't be too bad of a learning curve.
Tips on using the Ankarsrum for kneading bread:
  • I recommend defaulting to the roller and scraper (I've never bothered with the hook, but some people find it helpful for really large batches of either really stiff or really wet dough). Start on the lowest speed (12 o'clock), with the roller fixed close to the side of the bowl (but not touching the bowl rim), add your liquid ingredients first, and move the arm in and out to combine the liquids.
  • If you're making a well-developed recipe that uses weight for measurements, add all your flour/dry ingredients at once. Or, if you're using cups or if you're improvising a recipe (especially with fresh-milled flour), add your flour a cup at a time till the dough starts coming together. Either way, once your flour is in there, move the arm in and out to get everything mixed together. You can start turning the speed up now, but don't go past 2-3 o'clock.
  • After that, move the arm away from the side of the bowl. It should be close enough to the side of the bowl to press the dough up against the side (this is how the kneading happens), but far enough away from the side that the dough isn't pushing the roller to swing way out towards the center each time it goes by (a little nudge is ok). The roller should be pretty much stationary, and it should also be positioned so the dough doesn't climb up any higher than the "shoulder" of the roller. Twist the knob at the base of the arm just enough to lock it in place (no tighter), and leave it to finish kneading.
  • Remember that the dough will look different during kneading from how it would look in a KitchenAid mixer; just keep on going. And remember it will take longer than it would in a KitchenAid. Forget whatever timeframes you might be used to from a KA and just keep going until the dough is smooth, elastic, (if applicable) has a windowpane, etc.
  • With medium-to-large batches of stiffer dough, it might be helpful to remove the scraper after the dough has formed a cohesive mass and the sides of the bowl are clear. This way, the dough can travel more easily around the bowl without getting hung up momentarily between the roller and scraper on each pass.
  • For enriched dough: When incorporating butter into semi-developed dough, make sure to (1) really soften the butter, (2) work the softened butter with a spatula or spoon to make it more pliable, and (3) toss the butter down against the side of the bowl just in front of the roller (don't throw it in the center of the bowl, in which case the butter may end up going up the roller). And I also recommend keeping your other ingredients cool; otherwise, your soft butter will really warm up your dough as it gets added in. (This is basically the only scenario in which your dough might really heat up with the Ankarsrum.)
  • For high-hydration (like >75%) doughs: Use a double hydration/bassinage method. First put in about 80-90% of your total water, then add the dry ingredients and combine. Then after an autolyse (resting your dough for maybe 30 minutes), start kneading. Once the dough has started to reach a smoother texture, add the water you held back earlier. If you put in all the water at the beginning, you'll get a soupy dough.
Feel free to comment or PM me if you have any more questions!
posted by LNM at 5:55 AM on September 18 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: That is the answer I dreamed of, LMN. Thank you- lots of good info!
posted by charmedimsure at 3:01 PM on September 18

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