Meet Mathilda

Let me start by saying that I am not usually the sort to name objects. In our household, only my wife’s beloved BMW Z3, “Zippy”, has a name. However, sometimes you have to make exceptions.

It all started when I inherited my Grandmother’s 5-quart Kitchenaid mixer. It was pretty and new(ish), and I looked at my old, beater Kitchenaid and decided it was time for a kitchen facelift. There was nothing really wrong with the old one, other than I had tried to give it a hot rod paint job once, and it was pretty badly chipped by now. It was one of the old ones, made by Hobart, and built like a tank. Surely the new ones were even better! Out the old one went to the great giveaway pile in the sky.

You can do a search for “Kitchenaid” to get an idea of the kinds of problems I ran into. More I will not say. I immediately began the search for a replacement.

I make a lot of pizza. When you start searching for mixers that will hold up to a reasonable amount of pizza dough (four pounds or so), you find that there are very few stand mixers that are really up to the task, especially if you throw in some whole wheat flour. There are a couple of interesting alternative technologies, such as the Electrolux Assistent (sic). However, to me these had the feel of “it dices, it slices, it cleans your grout”, and I really wanted something more traditional.

After weeks of research (there are several interesting discussions on The Fresh Loaf equipment forums), I decided on a Uniworld 20-quart stand mixer. Yes, that’s quite a leap over the five quart Kitchenaid, but the 10-quart didn’t have the motor capacity for my dough, and even used Hobarts were too expensive. And my local restaurant supply house could get them for a good price. Sold!

A few days later, I got the call that it had arrived. I rushed down in my trusty Suburban, and two big guys muscled it into the back.

Mixer in the back of the Suburban
Coming home in the back of the Suburban

Did I mention it weighs almost 200 lbs.? I called my neighbor Dennis. He has all kinds of tools and gadgets, and figured he might have an engine hoist. He came over right away, declared the engine hoist not the right option, and helped me muscle it back out of the truck and onto a furniture dolly. We then improvised a set of ramps and rolled it into the house.

The 20 quart bowl next to the Kitchenaid
The 20 quart bowl and whisk next to the Kitchenaid

Size comparisons are fun. This thing dwarfs the Kitchenaid. The accessories dwarf the Kitchenaid. I was beginning to wonder if perhaps a used 12-quart Hobart would have been adequate, but had to keep my reminding myself that according to Hobart’s own specs, it wasn’t rated for heavy dough at all. My new baby was rated for everything.

As we looked around for aspirin to deal with our back spasms, we pondered how to get this monstrosity onto its stainless steel work table without scratching anything or further injuring ourselves. After a bit of ruminating, Dennis slapped his forehead and declared that he had a lift cart, which would be perfect, and would have been just as perfect for getting the mixer out of the truck. Oh well, better late than never. We went to his house and retrieved the cart.

On the lift cart, ready to put on the work table
On the lift cart, ready to put on the work table

Note the safety cage. The mixer won’t run unless the bowl is in the “up” position and the safety cage is closed, and will shut down if the bowl is lowered or the cage opened. Safety first!

The control panel side
The control panel side

This mixer also meets my requirements for minimal electronics. On and off switch (plus safety switches, but the schematic is pretty straightforward), and a three-speed manual transmission! No electronic speed control. I mean really, how many speeds to you need?

table marked and ready for drilling
Table marked and ready for drilling

With the mixer on the table (we put it on cardboard to prevent scratching the stainless steel), it was time to drill! I didn’t want to chance the mixer walking off during an aggressive cookie session. Fortunately, it had been bolted to its skid, so we had properly-fitting bolts on hand.

Size comparison of the 20 quart and the Kitchenaid
"When I grow up, I'm gonna be as big as Mom!"

So, how does it work? Beautifully! Four pounds of whole wheat dough? No problem! Three pounds of pasta dough? Easy! Doesn’t even slow down. I’m careful to stay within the manufacturer’s limits, and doughs only get worked in first gear. It’s more than adequate, though.

Whole wheat bread fresh out of the oven
A lovely loaf of whole wheat bread fresh out of the oven

So, what about “Mathilda”? The other night, my oldest son asked if I was going to name it. Nonsense! Men don’t name objects, sorry. Then, the next morning, as I came downstairs, I realized it had to be named Mathilda. And so it is.


2 thoughts on “Meet Mathilda

  1. Nice review, hope Matilda is still doing well. I was wondering if you found there was a minimum dough size that can be practically mixed and kneaded in your 20 quart machine. I am considering getting a machine the same size


    1. I haven’t really made anything in it with less than about 2 lbs of flour, so I’m not sure. At some point, the beater or dough hook just won’t hit the bottom of the bowl. Also, with too small an amount, you’d just be hitting the dough with the side of the paddle rather than it going through the holes! When I want to do a really small amount, like a couple of egg whites, I either mix by hand or use a handheld electric mixer.

      I did just make a double batch of gingerbread (14 cups of flour), which in my old Hobart-based Kitchenaid was a long and tedious task. Took less than a minute with Mathilda. Somebody told me that their accessories would be interchangeable with Hobart 20 qt. mixers. They are not. I bought a Hobart accessory 12 qt. bowl, beater, and dough hook meant for their 20 qt. mixer, and they don’t quite fit. 

      Thanks for looking!


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