Dough mixers include the spiral type, which is suitable for working with dough, and planetary mixers, which have attachments that make them more versatile for creating dough, batter, cupcakes, frosting, whipped cream and other items.
The biggest differences between standard and pizza dough mixers are that the latter has lower RPM (revolutions per minute), utilizes gears instead of belts, has a dough hook attachment and features more heavy-duty construction. This makes pizza dough mixers better suited for dense dough.
Mixers designated for pizza dough include a mixing bowl and dough hook attachment. This large hook kneads dough around the bowl.
Planetary units also offer whips for creating icing, toppings, salad dressing and other lighter mixtures as well as flat beaters for mixing thicker concoctions like cookie dough batter. These accessories can be either stainless steel or aluminum. With the planetary type of mixer, just the agitator moves around in the bowl to combine ingredients. This provides a rigorous, vigorous kneading action.
Pizza designated as Neapolitan must use dough prepared with a spiral mixer. This type has a dough hook that spins in the back of the bowl but not within the entire bowl, and the bowl itself spins as well. This is a softer, more gentle process that results in an airier product. These units work well with wetter dough and tend to include drive mechanisms, which differ from planetary mixers as they can produce more dough at one time.
Mixer size designates how much dough a unit can accommodate. Spiral mixers can produce more dough in less space. For example, this type can mix 110 pounds of dough per batch, while a planetary mixer producing the same amount of dough can mix between 50 and 60 pounds at one time.
Planetary mixers generally offer three mixing speeds, with the lowest most suitable for heavier dough batches and the highest for whipped toppings. Horsepower ranges from ½ to 4, depending on the mixer type. All units are 208/240 three or single phase.
Some spiral mixers offer reversible bowls or counterclockwise bowl movement for creating smaller batches.