In the U.S. baking industry, vertical mixers are synonymous with artisan breads and sweet goods. These mixers function ideally with these applications because vertical mixers stretch dough’s gluten structure without ripping and damaging the dough’s integrity.
This is especially important in artisan bread formulas, where dough integrity and hydration are essential to quality products.
"Mixers need a lot of time to get the protein web developed to the point where it can hold water," one vertical mixer manufacturer says. "Since most mixers mix by friction and therefore generate heat, the mixing action is damaging the protein web or net. Because this protein web holds the water, dough reaches a saturation point where it cannot hold any more water."
For years, mixer manufacturers have pushed the limits of hydration in doughs, slowly ramping up the amount of water incorporated into each batch. Vertical mixers with spiral attachments are the workhorses of the artisan bread industry. These mixers work by friction, constantly pushing the dough against the sides and bottom of the bowl. These mixers are efficient and possess the needed flexibility to mix highly hydrated dough in a reasonable amount of time.
However, friction creates heat, an enemy of the mixing function. To eliminate the friction caused by traditional spiral mixer arms, one mixer manufacturer has developed a vertical mixer with unique mixing tools.
Instead of traditional spiral arms, the mixer uses two vertical bars. Both bars move counter clockwise and meet in the middle. As the mixing arms meet in the middle of the bowl, they cut the dough. As the arms move away from the middle of the bowl, they pull and stretch the dough.
"These mixing tools have a combination of compression and stretching that builds the gluten structure in a way where it can accept and hold more water," the mixer’s manufacturer says.
The mixer’s action provides many benefits:
"We have run tests on ciabatta dough with 85% water, and when you look at the dough, it looks like soup," the mixer manufacturer says. "But when you pull on the dough, it has a beautiful elastic structure that could not be created on any other type of mixer."
Problem Solver Quick Tip
To eliminate the friction caused by traditional spiral mixer arms, one mixer manufacturer has developed a vertical mixer with unique, straight bar mixing tools.