Scott, I did a lot of research on the Electrolux before I bought it, mainly because I’d already tried two different KA mixers I’d been unhappy with. The first was the new 600 series, and the second was the Professional Five series. In both cases the mixer strained when making more than a couple of dough batches at once (and especially when mixing with the “ice method” I use). I often make several pizzas at once for my friends, so the KA wasn’t a good choice.
I looked at everything under $700, including the Bosch and Viking (the Santos too, but it was too much for my budget and didn’t seem to handle single batches well).
The thing I was surprised to find out about the Electrolux was that I couldn’t find one, single, solitary negative performance
review by users! That definitely was not the case with KA, Viking or Bosch. The one professional review I found, Cook’s Catalogue, had this to say, “Manufactured by Electrolux of Sweden, this unit is a bread baker’s dream and an investment that will last a lifetime.”
The only negative thing I saw wasn't about performance, but complaints about the poor instructions that come with the Electrolux. The problem you’ve had figuring out the arm needs to be adjusted to the left while adjusting the speed, is apparently a common one. Here’s one reviewer’s frustration, “My 1st experience w/ this DLX is how can it be this much $$$ and offer no direction on how to use??? I called their C.S. & they gave me a TOLL call # to reach for help and that man (Mr. Ross) was about as helpful as someone who is offering directions while speaking a foriegn language! Since I had no directions I plucked a recipe out of one of my books and the DLX bowl spun around in circles while my dough just sat there doing nothing. I had to use a spoon to get it to move! I will give this DLX 1 more chance and if still doesn't knead.”
But then the next reviewer explained, “Previous reviewer stated ‘where is the recipe book and guidance.’ Answer to that question is, other than a very few receipes there is none. However, the machine is easy to figure out once you understand it's mixing concept. When in doubt, place adjustable arm all the way out & then increase speed while slowly readjusting arm inward until desired mixing achieved.
[bold emphasis added] Really very simple once you get the hang of it. Mixer it'self is terrific, will do anything & everything but stand on it's head and gargle peanut butter.”
If you read the rest of the reviews on this page . . . http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0000DDWAD/102-2637553-9321716?v=glance
. . . you will see the continued praise.
A couple of forum discussions I found about the best mixer to buy were interesting because after the pros and cons of the Bosch, Kenwood, DeLongi, and KA, once the subject of the Electrolux came up, the praise was again totally positive. In the discussion here . . .http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/appl/msg091711221951.html
. . . after they get to the commentator “snowbaby” she says, “I have owned 3 Kitchenaid mixers, the Kenwood (now Delonghi), and now an Electrolux DLX. I was very happy with my first Kitchenaid and it served me well for 15-20 years, but it didn't handle large batches well. Even an angel food cake would nearly overflow the bowl. The Kenwood (smaller size) did a good job for about 8-10 years. It was very noisey, but it kneaded double batches of bread and even mixed large batches of fruitcake. Then it broke, and the part took 6 months to come in. When it broke the second time I chucked it."
She continues, “The Electrolux I have now is a dream machine! It was low rated by the LA Times article, but I can't help but think that they didn't read the manual. For them, it failed to cream butter and sugar. It does a perfect job for me. Let me say that it doesn't work like any mixer I have ever before used. You must spend 15-20 minutes reading about how to use it! I worried that it would be too complicated, but it isn't at all. I can make 6-7 loaves of bread at a time (at Christmas), or 1 loaf. The loaves are much more like homemade bread (finer crumb)than from a bread maker. The only thing I haven't figured out, is how to use it for pie crust (Kenwood was great), so I will use my food processor for that. The Electrolux is highly recommended by many professional chefs (see link below.) New Kitchenaid mixers are for the most part, not reliable for serious bakers. I urge you to read the thread below if you want a mixer that will perform well on all tasks (except pie dough?)”
The link she gave was to another forum . . .http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=57963
. . . which was a discussion about KAs the members had owned. Again the many stories of the how the old KAs had been great, but the new ones weren’t so hot. Plus the problem of being able to make large batches. After about 13 posts the member “andiesenji” steps in with his/her experience with KA, Hobart, etc. and then says “I bought the Electrolux which was called AEG at that time and it will do everything I ask of a mixer, including kneading the Struan dough (Peter Reinhart's recipe) and the thickest of cookie dough. And in the second bowl, it will whip eggwhites and cream to incredible volume with its double whips. I have recommended it to several people and everyone who has bought it has been very happy with it.” Again the discussion turns toward Electrolux as the overlooked mixer to buy.
This kind of opinion has been the only type I have found about the Electrolux by users
. So why did Cook’s Illustrated rate it lowest on the list? I can’t get access to the review without re-subscribing, so I have to speculate from my past experience with Cook’s Magazine. I dropped my subscription to it because I felt their reviews were topical (i.e., they didn’t test things in enough different situations and over enough time), and they didn’t recommend based on excellence. It seemed to me they made price too much of a factor, which I think should be left up to the buyer. I’d prefer a review to stick to what functions best, and then I’ll decide if I want to pay the price for it (obviously within some type of price range). I remember a bread knife comparison they did where in the end they recommended a stamped Forschner knife over forged knives. I bought it on their recommendation; it’s sharp alright, but using a floppy-bladed knife that is too light is scary. After cutting myself a couple of times I went ahead and spent the money for my beloved Wusthof Grand Prix.
Another problem I see for aspiring pizziolos is that mixer reviews are for normal batter-type mixing, while pizza dough puts more stress on a machine. So for me the issue boils down to 1) what’s the most durable, effective machine I can get for pizza dough in my price range, and 2) can the machine do both single and multiple batches of dough.
I made my final decision after talking to an experienced baker here . . .http://kodiakhealth.com/catalog/product_info.php/products_id/3370
. . . who also sold them for that company (that’s where I ended up buying my machine). She said she owned both the top Bosch and the Electrolux, but the Bosch didn’t do single batches. I could tell from the way she talked she really liked the Electrolux best (she sold both machines so couldn’t let herself sound too biased). They had the best price for the metallic grey machine, and sent out my mixer that day. From the start the machine worked better than either of the KAs had, even before I learned how to use it properly. But once I did learn how, I was totally impressed with the quality of the dough. I wouldn’t have thought a particular mixing method would make so much difference. Plus the way it is made is really impressive. Solid as a rock, smooth, powerful, every part made well.
So at this point, I don’t think there is anything that can compete with the Electrolux for pizza dough under $1000.