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A commercial mixer is a crucial fixture in most modern restaurant kitchens. There are a variety of options available to you, but what you choose will largely depend on the type of dough you expect to use, the quantity that you regularly expect to mix, and how versatile you need the mixer to be. Thus, before you speak to suppliers about a commercial mixer, consider your kitchen’s specific needs.
Types of Mixers
In planetary mixers, the agitator rotates around a fixed mixing bowl. The big advantage of planetary mixers is that there are a variety of agitator attachments that can be used to give the mixer a great deal of versatility. Because of the availability of interchangeable agitator attachments, planetary mixers are suitable for mixing everything from thick, stiff doughs to airy meringues, and can even be outfitted with attachments to allow slicing, cutting, grating, and chopping functionality. The mixing bowl can also be replaced to suit smaller batches, if necessary. For most kitchens, a planetary mixer is perhaps the best investment due to this impressive versatility.
In spiral mixers, the agitator (spiral shaped) stays in place while the mixing bowl rotates around it, which makes the spiral mixer a better candidate for mixing large volumes of dough, and, because spiral mixers tend to have higher horsepower motors and more space than planetary mixers, are better for mixing thicker, stiffer doughs, too. As a negative, however, they are not as versatile as planetary mixers due to the lack of interchangeable agitator attachments.
Vertical Cutter Mixers
In vertical cutter mixers, the agitator is placed inside
the mixing bowl, which is enclosed. This is coupled with a high horsepower motor to allow for faster, large volume production. Unlike spiral mixers (which also deliver large volume production), however, vertical cutter mixers are very versatile. With interchangeable attachments, they can be used to chop meat, to cut and slice, to knead, and more. On the negative side, due to the enclosed mixing bowl, it may be more difficult to achieve the same level of precision with your mixing than with open-bowl configurations such as with spiral or planetary mixers.
Example Agitator Attachments
The flat beater is best with firm doughs, but can be used (and is commonly used) to mix everything from cake batter to mashed potatoes.
This attachment is best used for thick, heavy ingredients (pizza dough, bread dough, pie dough, etc.), as it cuts through the thickness while mixing.
The wire whip is primarily used for mixing airy, light items such as custard, whipped cream, meringue, and soufflé.
A dough hook enables your mixer to knead and fold dough, which is especially useful for thicker, stiffer doughs such as pizza dough.