Appropriate Mixer Speeds for Bread

Hi Rose,I am an experienced home cook (actually a "foodie"), but not a baker, who is finally ready to tackle yeast breads. Over the years I have avoided yeast breads due to lack of time and patience. Truth be told, yeast dough intimidates me! I have purchased a new Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer (5 quart). I've also armed myself with your recent book, "The Bread Bible" and am ready to venture into the area of dough using starters or bigas. However, I do have one initial concern and that has to do with the speed at which the dough is mixed. On page 50 in your book, you recommend using speed #4 on a Kitchen Aid for kneading dough (speed #2 if a stiff dough). The instruction manual which came with my KA mixer states in several places NOT to go beyond speed #2 when mixing yeast dough's. So my question is: With your vast experience, is it possible to indeed mix yeast dough at speed #4 or should I follow the instruction manual and never exceed speed #2? Secondly, what qualifies a "stiff dough"? Kitchen Aid doesn't seem to qualify, i.e., the manual offers the caveat for mixing "yeast dough" in general not to exceed speed #2. I've read your book through, now I look forward to using it as intended. I've also enjoyed your PBS series in its entirety, "Baking Magic with Rose Levy Beranbaum". You are, indeed, a wonderful instructor and a great source of inspiration. I hope to make beautiful baguettes with your help. Thanks for all you do. Sincerely, Penny dear penny, this is a very important question that several people have asked since the book first cake out. It is my understanding (and practice) that kitchen aid recommends no higher than speed #2 because if the dough is stiff it wil, over time,l wear out the motor. for many doughs, however, using speed #2 would require extremely long beating in order to develop the gluten adequately--maybe as long as 20 minutes, during which you should never walk away from the mixer as it could fall off the counter. I think it is necessary to trust one's judgement here. a bagel, for example, is a dry, stiff dough, and if you used a high speed you would actually hear the motor straining. if ever you hear this sound you will recognize it and should immediately lower the speed. I hope you enjoy your adventures in bread baking. as I'm working on a new cake book, I am enjoying baking cakes but sneak in an occasional bread just because I love making it so much. best baking, rose