=== 1I am an independent café operator, with limited kitchen space. I buy in many products finished and for bake-off, but I require a mixer for the occasional home-made cake, for batters and for icings. ===

"The perfect model for a small independent is the Kitchenaid K50," says Angie Robinson at Apuro. Available in white or grey, this robust model (pictured far right) measures in at 411x264x338mm, taking up minimal space in the kitchen. It comes with two 4.8-litre stainless steel bowls (suitable for baking cakes), as well as a host of attachments including flat beater, dough hook and wire whisk. The direct drive motor, and unique planetary mixing action, makes the K50 one of the most efficient models available, she says.

"A wide range of other attachments is available including a mincer, ice cream attachment and fruit/vegetable strainer, making the K50 the most versatile model on the market."

"I would recommend a bench-top commercial planetary mixer," says Stephen Steadman at Pentagram Equipment. "We offer sizes ranging from 5-20 litres from Salva. In contrast to domestic kitchen models, our machines have stronger motors and component parts. Alternatively, with Escher (pictured below left) we can supply planetary mixers from 20kg-80kg."

However, every bakery establishment should have a 20-litre bench model planetary mixer, advises Mike Hampson of Becketts. "It should have three speeds driven through a gearbox. This machine will inevitably be mistreated and overloaded, and so smaller capacity or lighter built machines should be avoided. The original Hobart design is a classic, now widely copied, at much-reduced prices. The quality of the copies varies greatly between manufacturers, but the good ones are comparable to the original. So it is important to purchase from a reputable source with the appropriate warranty.

"Alternatively, you could consider a refurbished Hobart. It is unlikely that these machines will have a safety guard, and should therefore be avoided - even if it will be only the proprietor using the machine. The position with the HSE is unclear, and the cost of retro-fitting a guard prohibitive."


=== 2I am a one-shop baker with a traditional mix of products, from morning goods to confectionery, made on-site. My spiral mixer is on its last legs and I’m after a workhorse mixer that is versatile and can take quite a lot of punishment. ===

"The spiral mixer is the ideal machine for this application, as long as there is a 20-litre planetary mixer as well," says Mike Hampson. "To replace the belts, bearings and timers on the original, ’last legs’ machine could easily cost 50% of the cost of a new mixer, and so should not be considered."

When comparing new spiral mixers, it is the strength of the machine that will influence reliability and length of service, he says. Strength, in turn, is indicated by weight and motor power. There are further differences between machines in bowl and tool speeds, which cause higher dough temperatures or longer mix times, but these differences have reduced, as manufacturers have found the best compromise.

"The most important consideration is therefore the UK supplier and the support that is available in the unlikely event that it is required," says Hampson.

"I would recommend to any one-shop baker the Bear Varimixer RN10 TT," says Angie Robinson. This versatile and robust table-top model is made to be used, and comes supplied with a carefully designed stainless steel bowl, whip, beater and hook. Measuring in at 639x369x592mm, the RN10 TT (pictured below left) is a compact, heavy-duty mixer; and for those kitchens with more floor space, there is a floor-standing model available.

Attachments available for the RN10 TT include meat mincer, vegetable cutter and nylon scraping blade. "This machine really can cater for any situation and it will never let you down," says Robinson.

"I would recommend a new spiral mixer," says Stephen Steadman. "Escher (below right) has over 1,500 in the UK, used by two major supermarket chains, which demonstrates their robustness and reliability."

The machines have a patented drive system giving 25% more power to the spiral tool.

All the mixers have two motors, two timers and bowl reverse in first speed. "Dependent on the size you require, we can supply the fixed-bowl mixers, ranging from 40kg-200kg."


=== 3I am a bread baker, who has found some success producing bread for farmers’ markets. Now I’m looking to step up production, with plans to rent my own unit, in order to service wholesale customers. I’m producing a range of speciality breads, and need a mixer that is gentle enough for long-fermented, French-style doughs. ===

"Firstly, whether or not ’long-fermented’ is bulk-fermented, removable-bowl mixers would cost approximately twice that of a fixed-bowl machine," Mike Hampson points out. "Assuming that there will be various recipes, and only a moderate volume in total, any bulk doughs could be transferred to a trough.

Some may suggest that a fork-type or a twin-arm mixer should take preference in this application. "Although we can offer both these options, sales of spiral mixers in France support the notion that they can deliver the right results with French-style doughs. As this is a new project, and as the resale of a fork or twin-arm mixer would be difficult, we would recommend a spiral."

"For a baker looking to step up production, then look no further than the robust Quattro QPM20," says Angie Robinson. "With a 20-litre capacity, this unit can more than cater for mass productions, with reliability and safety guaranteed." The QPM20 (pictured right) comes with a 30-minute digital timer, a choice of three speeds and a stainless steel bowl, beater, whisk and dough hook. This floor-standing model comes equipped with safety micro-switches on the bowl lift and cover, as well as a stainless steel guard. "Made using the most modern manufacturing techniques, the QPM20 is ideal for preparing doughs and other fresh products," she says.

"I would recommend either a spiral mixer or twin-arm mixer," says Stephen Steadman. "We offer sizes from 32kg of dough to 200kg of dough."

The benefit of the double-arm mixer is that a more gentle mixing action is used for bringing together all the ingredients, ready for bulk fermentation. Where more energy is required, spiral mixers are beneficial; and mixing time would vary according to the type and size of spiral mixer offered, he says.