I have a bit of difficulty mixing and needing due to a medical condition and am wondering about automatic mixers. There seem to a quite a few cheap bread makers on ebay, how are they just as a dough mixer?
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I have medical issures also. I use a bread machine to mix my dough about 80% of the time. Everyone I've used did a great job. Even for sourdough. Machine I'm using now takes about 30 min. to mix and 70 min. to rest, then a knock down at the last. And I let mine rest 20 min. more to relax. Then I stretch and fold and shape. After shaping let stay/prove overnight in the refrigerator for more sourness.
Yes bread makers will work for dough mixing.
As an expansion I have done a bit of research on zojirushi bread machines that have sourdough settings that run over 24 hours. I have not ever seen one in the flesh or spoken to anyone who has used one but I think it is a very good idea.
Any sort of a kitchen mixer with a dough hook or similar fitting could be used. It strikes me as a bit of over-kill to buy a bread-maker just for the mixing capability.
Looking around eBay it seems cheap bread makers are easier to find, probably a pretty common "unwanted gift" or brief fad. I would love a proper mixer!
I bought a zojirushi bread machine at a garage sale a year or 2 ago. It is an excelent machine. I have bought 5 or 6 other bread machines at salvation army stores over the past 10 years or so. I can't resist how inexpensive they are, usually around $10 or $15 (I have given a couple as gifts to my Mom, and a friend). The Zojirushi is the best I have had. I would hold out till you find a great deal on a Zojirushi. I think the second best one I have had is a Toast Master.
I think a bread maker is a good option, even if you only use it to knead dough. I suggest you look for one that allows you to program your own timeing for the dough. My zojirushi bread machine does.
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