KitchenAid stand mixers handle every tough and tedious baking task imaginable. Everything from mixing cake batters, whipping up meringues, and churning out ice cream – if you can think of it – your KitchenAid mixer can probably do it.
One of my most common baking tasks that I enlist the help of my trusty KitchenAid is making bread dough. These machines are a lifesaver when it comes to kneading dough. Not only does the stand mixer knead dough twice as fast as hand-kneading, but it also saves you from doing all that arm-aching work yourself. Pour yourself a glass of wine and marvel at your amazing mixer doing all the hard work for you!
Regardless of what machine you are using, to knead bread dough with an electric mixer, you are going to need a dough hook attachment. These attachments are designed to replicate the action of hand kneading and develop the gluten strands within the dough.
Currently, KitchenAid offers two different styles of dough hooks: the C-shaped and the PowerKnead (spiral) hook.
In this article, I want to compare both the KitchenAid dough hook vs spiral and highlight some of the key differences between these two attachments.
Let’s get started!
How does the KitchenAid dough hook attachment work?
First things first, let’s cover some basics. When it comes to attachments for kneading bread dough, there’s only one tool for the job – the dough hook.
I’m sure you already know all about the importance of kneading dough. It’s a very important step in the bread-making process and is responsible for adding strength and structure to your dough creations. Since this tool is such an important piece in the bread-making puzzle, it’s important you have a good dough hook that can effectively knead your bread dough. The best dough hook is one that is strong enough to push the dough around the bowl in a continuous motion.
If you are unfamiliar with using your dough hook, here’s a quick 1-minute video I recommend you take a look at.
KitchenAid offers dough hooks in two different designs, the C-shaped hook and the KitchenAid spiral dough hook. As I just mentioned, these clever attachments mimic the kneading motion of your hand. They develop gluten strands and enable you to create a soft and elastic dough.
Have you ever wondered what the difference between these two bread dough attachments are? I certainly have. One question that left me scratching my head is why do some stand mixers come with a C shape hook while others are fitted with a spiral hook? And which of these hooks offers the most effective kneading action?
After a bit of digging, here’s what I discovered!
C Shaped Dough Hook
Every tilt-head mixer – KitchenAid’s compact models designed for home use – all come standard with the C-shaped dough hook. From the Artisan Mini to the Deluxe and Ultra series, every tilt-head model will come with the same C hook design.
These hooks are usually made with burnished aluminium or a protective nylon coating. A KitchenAid dough hook in stainless steel is widely available now, although you will have to purchase the attachment separately as an add-on.
As with every mixing attachment, the C-shaped hook uses planetary (rotating) motion to knead your dough. It slaps and works the dough against the sides of the bowl to develop the gluten.
This hook has a compact structure that matches it well with mixers with lower-capacity bowls. You can easily knead small amounts of bread (one or two loaves) with this attachment. I find the dough hook works pretty well on the whole, although the dough does have a tendency to climb up the C hook, so you may find yourself stopping the mixer and pulling the dough down every now and then.
Be careful though, by filling your tilt-head mixer with more dough than it can handle you might end up overheating your machine or shredding gears.
PowerKnead Spiral Dough Hook
The KitchenAid spiral dough hook, or the pigtail hook as some bakers call it, uses a slightly different mixing action. This KitchenAid spiral dough hook (AKA the PowerKnead) is a creation crafted by the engineers at KitchenAid, specifically for their bowl-Lift stand mixers.
At around 7 inches, this dough hook is ½ inch longer than the C-shaped one and ½ inch thinner. The top part of your attachment moves in one direction while the bottom part (in touch with the dough) moves in the opposite direction.
This dual rotating mechanism combined with the hook shape allows it to knead the dough by pushing it to the bottom of the bowl, instead of the side of the bowl like the C-shaped hook. This makes the kneading action more efficient meaning your bread dough not only mixes better but you have less of it clinging to the hook. The more efficient design also allows you to knead up to 25% more dough at a time!
The best part is that you can mix both smaller and bigger batches of dough without your motor heating up or changes in the dough texture. I would go as far as to say this is the best dough hook for kneading stiff doughs like bagels.
Is there a spiral dough hook for KitchenAid artisan mixers?
The KitchenAid Powerknead attachment is best suited for mixers with powerful motors and large mixing bowls, like the Pro-Line and Professional models. The reason for this is that the bowl-lift models have a retaining washer inside the mixer head designed to protect the gear train from the upward force caused by the force generated from kneading the dough off the bottom of the bowl.
That said, if you are really desperate to get your hands on a spiral hook for your tilt-head mixer, there are a few third-party options available. This stainless steel one is my personal favorite.
Although there are plenty of raving reviews from KitchenAiders that love using this spiral hook, I suggest being very careful. If you use this attachment on your tilt-head mixers, you run the risk of damaging the machine. The tilt-head stand mixers don’t have that retaining washer in the mixer head, and using the spiral dough hook has the potential to knock the gear train out of alignment.
It’s also worth remembering that, like any third-party attachment, any damage sustained through the use of an unofficial KitchenAid accessory will void your product warranty.
KitchenAid dough hook vs Spiral: Which is better?
Swapping a C-shaped hook for a spiral hook on a tilt-head mixer isn’t exactly advised due to the different mechanical designs. As you’ve seen, the C-hook works against the sides of the bowl, while the spiral works against the bottom, putting extra pressure on the mixing shaft.
According to KitchenAid’s response to a curious customer, they don’t recommend swapping a spiral hook for a C-shaped hook.
However, when you compare the PowerKnead with the older C-shaped hook, this is a clear improvement in terms of performance. This attachment can knead up to 25% more dough and at a faster rate too. Because of this, the spiral dough hook comes standard with many of the larger bowl-lift models.
Regardless of the dough hook you prefer, I suggest getting stainless steel hooks as opposed to coated or aluminum ones.
The reason for this, as many KitchenAid customers have found out, is that Aluminium can oxidize. This is almost guaranteed inevitably when you put them in the dishwasher. Even coated ones don’t fare much better. They’re notorious for chipping, sometimes mid-way through kneading your dough. You certainly don’t want to be serving up a fresh loaf of bread seasoned with a side of Nylon coating.
To sum up, dough hooks, in general, are intended to work on stiff batters and bread. They work best for the intended purpose and with the original mixer model with which they are paired.
The KitchenAid spiral dough hook is better than the C shaped but comes only with bowl-lift models. The C shaped dough hook is fitted in tilt head mixers and does a decent job of kneading a small or single batch.
While both attachments work differently, they help you bake some delicious bread with less effort and in far less time.