At-Home Baker’s Eternal Question: Head Mixer Vs Bowl Lift
Ultimately amateurs make the decision to finally invest in the real deal: a big time, expensive stand mixer. Maybe not a commercial model, but a solid, heavy duty mixer.
If you frequently make dough or sweet baked goods or do a lot of high speed whisking, getting a hig quality stand mixer may be one of the best cooking decisions you’ll ever make.
Pricey? Maybe, But Worth It
Yes, for most of us, these mixers are not inexpensive. They do cost hundreds of dollars. Sticker shock is partly what makes many stall and never bother buying the mixer.
However, this is a situation where it makes sense to take a step back and look at the overall situation.
I use a concept I call “price-per-wear” to help me make these type of decisions. Here’s the story behind it.
Years ago my lovely wife bought a very expensive velvet dress. It was made with a fabulous velvet. It had a wonderful look and feel. The design and detail were spectacular.
Did I mention it was expensive? Like hundreds of dollars expensive.
However, it looked great on her. And she felt great every time she wore it. And I was reminded how beautiful she is every time she wore it.
She received more complements on that dress than any other I can recall.
The dress was a classic and well-made. It lasted for years before she finally had to retire it.
So that dress was “expensive” in the sense that it had a high price tag.
But if you take that price tag, divide it by the number of times she wore it, then factor in an adjustment for how much pleasure she derived from wearing something so nice, that dress was an absolute bargin.
Compare that to a sweatshirt I bought on markdown clearance. I was a reasonably well made sweatshirt, but I didn’t like the funky look of a letter embroidered on it. I guess it was on the clearance table because nobody else liked it either.
However it was such a “bargain” that I bought it anyway, figuring I couldn’t go wrong at such a low price.
I never wore that shirt. Every time I went to put it on, I couldn’t do it. I really didn’t want to be seen wearing the thing.
Eventually, it went to the Salvation Army.
On a cost-per-wear basis, that was one of the most expensive pieces of clothing I ever owned.
I hope you can see how this applies to getting a KitchenAid mixer. A mixer of this quality can easily become the central workhorse in your kitchen. You’ll get more done with less effort and you’ll enjoy every time you use it.
You can also count on it remaining trouble free and lasting for many years.
Like my sweatshirt, a stand mixer that’s less expensive but doesn’t work very well, is a hassle to use and burns out after a year or two is no bargain.
You Can Save Some Money With This Decision
The main question is the comparison of head mixer vs bowl lift varieties. KitchenAid makes both types of mixers.
With a tilt head mixer, the top of the mixer tilts back (there’s hinge) to position or remove the bowl and to change mixing implements.
In contrast, a lift mixer is a solid piece and a clamping mechanism raises and lowers the bowl.
Both mixers work very well and since tilt head mixers are less expensive chosing that model is one way to save some money and still get an excellent mixer.
Factors to Consider
In making the decision to get a tilt head vs a lift bowl mixer, here are a couple a things to consider.
A minor difference is that the bowl lift can remain under an upper cabinent in use because nothing is tilting up or down. There are no worries about having to clear cabinetry, for instance when adding ingredients or freoving the bowl.
I’ve never found that to be major problem when I’ve used a tilt head mixer. I always slide it forward on the counter to use it so tilting the head back is not an issue. Your situatioin may be different, so just be aware of that.
A more significant difference is durability. Now don’t get me wrong. All KitchenAid mixers of any design are very durable, expecially in comparison with the competetion.
However, in testing designed to really push the limits of the machine – making batch after batch of very stiff dough – a weakness of the tilt head shows up. Eventually the hinge starts to loosen under the strain and the mixer doesn’t engage the bowl as precisely as normal.
It’s of note that even when that happens, the mixer works fine if you press down to hold the head in place. The motor is more than strong enough to carry on.
That test stressed the mixer way beyond anything most home cooks would do. However, you should be aware of that difference if you do happen to mix a lot of large batches of stiff dough.
Deciding What Attachments To Purchase
Another aspect of making your buying decision goes beyond whether to buy the head mixer vs bowl lift. It is deciding what attachments and accessories you’ll want to get to expand your capabilities.
All KitchenAid mixers can utilize the full range of attachments. The “power hub” that drives them is essentially the same in both the tilt head and lift bowl models. Whatever design you get you’ll be able to take full advantage of all the accessories available.
The accessories do add expense, but again this is a situation where it’s better to think in terms of cost per use rather than simply the up-front cost.
For example, the attachment I use most frequently is the meat grinder. I like controling the quality and the mix of my ground meat rather that getting the supermarket ground meat made from who knows what trimming the butcher wanted use up.
For me, getting the grinder lowered my overall cost per use for the mixer because I use it more often now that it has that capability.
For you, it may be the pasta maker. Or the shredder.
The point is to review the available attachments so you get some idea of the possibilities of how you might expand your capabilities with the mixer. If there’s a chore you do a lot that an attachnent would make easier, that could be a good investment.
The Bottom Line
The truth is, if you get a KitchenAid mixer you really can’t go wrong. They’re great machines that are a joy to use and make difficult tasks easy. They always come out on top in every comparison test I’ve ever seen.
Personally, I hesistated quite a while before I bought on years ago. Once I top the leap, I’ve never regreted it.
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