A bread dough mixer is a kitchen appliance capable of thoroughly incorporating the dry and wet ingredients in yeast-based bread and pizza dough recipes. Most hand mixers, as well as many stand mixers, are competent in mixing ingredients for cake batters, cookies and quick breads that do not contain yeast. Most, however, cannot effectively mix yeast bread dough because the ratio of dry ingredients to wet ingredients is much higher than in any other recipe; a bread dough mixer is usually required.
A few popular brands of stand mixers include dough hooks in their attachments. This is a handy tool for kneading non-yeast dough as it produces the desired smoothness and elasticity in a much shorter time period than hand kneading. Yeast bread dough, however, can not be kneaded until it is thoroughly and evenly mixed, the task at which many mixers fail. A mixer may occasionally succeed in properly mixing the dough, but the risk of permanently damaging its motor is high. Forcing the machine into submission can also be a trying and messy experience.
When bread-making machines were introduced, many proved to be not only successful mixers of dough, but most also turned out high-quality baked yeast breads. The machine was often used to mix and knead the bread dough, then the cook would bake the bread in a traditional oven. These machines are well equipped for mixing and kneading yeast doughs, but most hold very small quantities of ingredients and are much harder to clean than a traditional mixing bowl and dough hook.
Many makers of heavy-duty mixers claim their machines are capable of performing as a bread dough mixer, but a significant number of consumers disagree. The majority of complaints focus on the mixer overheating when more than five or six cups of flour is added to the bowl. Some users noted that the mixers not only failed to fully incorporate the dry and wet ingredients, but also did not provide enough power to properly develop the gluten. This commonly results in a poorly risen bread.
If a home baker finds a bread machine too inconvenient and hard to clean, but simply can not give up the desire to bake homemade bread, investing in a commercial-grade mixer is strongly suggested. These mixers are normally quite expensive, however. Used models can often be purchased at much lower prices on auction sites or at liquidation sales of commercial kitchen appliances. Keeping informed on newer, more powerful consumer mixers as they are introduced into the market is also recommended.