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Baker's Insight

A comprehensive resource for bakers

Let’s Mix Things Up

Editor’s Note: Originally published in 2012, this article was recently revised to help better address the great debate of Planetary versus Spiral Mixers. For additional questions, please feel free to call our sales office at: 800.682.8203 or click here.

The Differences Between Planetary and Spiral Mixers

Highlighting their main uses and advantages, we revisit the basics and explore the differences between planetary and spiral mixers.

Planetary Mixer

This type of mixer features a fixed, non-rotating bowl. The bowl is latched onto the base of the machine and can be raised into the mixing position, and inversely lowered to remove the bowl. A great advantage of this mixer type is the availability of different attachments that can be used when mixing. Standard attachments include a paddle, whip, dough hook, with other add-ons also available. Planetary mixers come in both tabletop and full floor models, to best suit your production needs. Machine size is determined by the available mixing bowl volume, usually measured in quarts. Tabletop models generally come in 20 or 30-quart varieties while , floor models come in 40, 60, 80 or larger quart capacities. Many of these machines also come with variable speed options to accommodate different mixing needs.

Uses: In almost every pastry shop or bakery you will find at least one planetary mixer. The reason these mixers are so common is that they offer greater versatility. Often, bakers and pastry chefs will use the paddle attachment for blending or creaming products. This includes pie crust dough, scones, cookie dough or cake filling. The whip attachment is commonly used to aerate mixtures such as meringue, sponge cake, whipped cream, and mousse. Lastly, the dough hook attachment is typically used in pizza shops and small bread bakeries.

Spiral Mixer

The main function of the spiral mixer is to gently mix bread dough, allowing it to develop the proper gluten structure, while not overworking the dough. This is achieved because the bowl of the mixer rotates as the spiral hook is spinning and kneading the dough. The benefit to this action is that the spiral hook is kneading only a portion of the whole dough mass at a given time. This keeps friction heat low, providing a more homogeneous mix.

Similar to their planetary counterparts, spiral mixers can also come with variable speeds, which facilitates dough development. When mixing dough in a spiral, low speed helps bring the mix together into a homogenous mass; whereas high speed is meant to develop the gluten structure of the dough. The size of these mixers is also measured by the volume of the bowl.

For example 30, 40, 60, 120, 180 liter or larger capacities. Spiral mixers are also built for larger mixes (measured in liters versus quarts for planetary mixers). Available features for spiral mixers include a removable bowl and a trolley. This enables easy transportation of large dough batches and allows for bakeries to keep multiple mixing bowls ready for production.

Uses: Typically, this type of mixer does not have interchangeable attachments. Most commonly used for mixing bread dough, spiral mixers are capable of handling a variety of different dough types. This includes very stiff dough with low hydration levels; and high hydration dough types such as ciabatta. Some bakeries also expand their machine’s production purpose beyond the scope of bread. Some examples include blending together pie dough as well as mixing scones and biscuits.

Overview

Within the baking industry, mixers are considered common necessities. While other types of mixers exist, planetary and spiral mixers remain most common place. When considering which option is best for your shop, be sure to evaluate both your product range and production volume. In general, while a planetary mixer offers the most versatility, it may not be the best option for your specific product. A spiral mixer, on the other hand, will likely be the right choice for you if your business focuses mainly on bread production.

About Erika Record Baking Equipment

Erika Record Baking Equipment is the leading manufacturer and distributor of retail/commercial bakery equipment. For over 20 years, we have provided our customers with both excellent equipment and outstanding customer service. Our products include: bagel/bread/roll slicers, bread and roll systems, cake slicers, cookie presses, depositors, divider/rounders, mixers, sheeters/makeup tables, ovens, and more! For more information please visit: www.erikarecord.com.

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