I bit the bullet and purchased the pro 600 recommended by Cook's Illustrated and all of you. I'm rather a novice at baking bread, but I get many more compliments on the KA dough than I got on the hand kneaded. The honey oatmeal recipe that came with the mixer has been a smash hit. Cookies are a breeze, too. I had to make 9 dozen for a cookie swap plus several other varieties for Christmas and it was much easier/faster/neater than using my hand mixer. I am going thru butter, sugar, and flour like it's my job, however. Thank you all for your mixer recommendations and your bread encouragement. Now if I may trouble you all with a few more questions:
1) To slash or not to slash, that is the question. Whether tis nobler....oh, nevermind... Anyway, some recipes call for very specific slashing. Others make no mention, namely my cinnamon raisin swirl loaf and my honey oatmeal loaf. It seems the free form loaves I've made require slashing and the loaf pan loaves don't but that could be just a coincidence;
2) What is over-rising? What are the consequences of it? and
3) What is over-working? How do I know if I'm doing it (I'm usually very sensitive to overworking doughs, batters, and meatball mixtures, so I doubt that I am), and again, consequences? I thought kneading was required to develop the gluten.
Thank you all.