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Friday 19 July 2013

Do I really need a stand mixer?

I have been procrastinating for far too long now; time for me to just bite the bullet and get this post written.

I read a piece on stand mixers on one of my absolute favourite blogs a week or so back and felt compelled to offer the other side of the argument here. I do see that this puts me in the realm of those tacky popstars who record musical responses to well produced chart toppers, but so be it. I am old enough not to care now.

I have never met Sarah or been in her gorgeous newly fitted kitchen, but I have read her blog since the beginning and I feel like I know her well enough that she won't mind me stealing her idea for a post. See, she doesn't think she needs a stand mixer, and that you probably don't either. Well, I want to tell you that my stand mixer is one of the greatest things ever to come into my life and I think that you might well benefit from begging, borrowing or stealing one yourself.

Here's why.

Actually, no: let's start with a little about me that might not be clear from this blog.

  • I don't bake all the time. It probably ends up being one cake a week. Honestly.
  • I seem to have ended up making quite a few wedding cakes and do a bake sale every year.
  • I own a hand mixer as well, but no food processor (I hated it and gave it away).
  • I am not scared by 'difficult sounding' recipes.
OK. I should also probably say that my stand mixer was a wedding gift from my whole family. It's a Kitchen Aid Artisan in beautiful Candy Apple Red (for the record), and every time I use it it reminds me how generous my family are and how much I love them.

(If you hate your family and have to buy your own mixer, well, I still think you'd love using it, so don't think that's my only reason for disagreeing with Sarah.)

Reasons to own a stand mixer:

  • The power: no electric hand mixer can compete.
  • The fact that it mixes thoroughly: cakes I do in the Kitchen Aid have better texture and crumb and rise more evenly than those I do by hand or with a hand mixer.
  • Hands free: I'm a hands free junkie. I can beat eggs and pour hot sugar syrups into them at the same time without burning myself, and answer the phone while baking if I have to.
  • Capacity: 16 egg whites beaten to a meringue in one bowl? No problem. Deep sides mean mess is minimal.
  • Style: Candy Apple Red. How many times do I have to say that?
  • Multi Use: maybe that's pushing it, but you can do great mashed potatoes in a mixer like mine. Also great for making and serving eggnog at Christmas. Seriously.
Sarah recommends instead an electric hand mixer. I own two, but never use them.

Reasons I don't rate hand mixers:

  • The lack of power: they are just rubbish. Even on high speed. Making French buttercream with one in my pre-KA days nearly killed me (and the mixer!).
  • They break down: maybe I was overusing mine, as I did supply a café with cakes for a while, but I never seem to get them to last more than a year of regular use.
  • Takes up cupboard space: I may be in the minority, but I find this far more annoying than having to have my stand mixer sitting on the work top in the corner looking pretty. And my kitchen is small.
  • I have to stand at the mixing bowl for however long it takes. And genoise takes 15 minutes with a hand mixer. No thank you!
  • The beaters scratch my glass bowls. Unsightly!
  • They can overheat: my stand mixer can go all morning on high and not even break a sweat.
I do see that cost is a reason that people don't indulge their stand mixer desires, and certainly I would not have spent the money it cost to buy the Kitchen Aid on myself, which is why they are so often on wedding lists, let's face it. However, I would not have baked half of the more labour intensive cakes I have done were it not for the stand mixer and for that reason alone I recommend them. If you like baking, you'll find ways to use it. If you think you want one, you'll probably use it all the time.

Just my two cents'.

Now go check out Sarah's great blog!


  1. I could not live without my stand mixer - for baking and a whole lot besides that. The KA mixers come with so many attachments now that they really are multi purpose, more than just a mixer. I loved Sarah's piece too and did find it gave me pause...

    1. I really agree, Mardi.

      Let's be frank: the cost is what puts people off. But it shouldn't. They are an investment. I love the look of the mincer attachment and can feel it's going to happen one day. But to be honest, just having the mixing done so well is reason enough. Nothing bakes as evenly than a cake done in my KA.

  2. I beat all my cakes by hand... always have and always will... that's BY HAND not with either an electric hand whisk or a stand mixer... so there. x

    1. Well, that's because you are fabulous, Dom. Take that! :)

    2. Golly! What amazing muscles you must have!!!

  3. I wouldn't be without my kitchenaid - for all the reasons you list, but also because I sometimes have trouble with my hands and fingers and simply having to hold a hand beater for the time it would take to whip up a simple sponge would be painful.
    I love my kitchenaid - it's an almost unhealthy relationship!

    1. I never thought about that!

      What colour is yours?

  4. I have the same model KA (and isn't it beautiful?!) and use it all the time. It too has a sentimental purchase story, and I use it all the time. It makes perfect marshmallow mix and super-light cake batter that I wouldn't be able to achieve with a hand mixer. I also have the pasta attachment, which makes it a whole new gadget. I still use my hand mixer for small jobs like whipping cream or egg whites, but otherwise it just doesn't compare for all the reasons you mentioned above.

    1. Annika, I love the colour so much I could cry. It's not just the red, it's the fact that it positively shimmers. Like nail lacquer. It's love.

  5. Mr P, I have mixed feelings about this subject. Let's sum it up this way: I have been a serious baker for many (many!) years without benefit of a heavy-duty stand mixer and will likely continue as I've been. BUT, that said, if someone were to give me a Kitchen Aid Artisan (white) stand mixer, I bet I'd use the heck out of it!

    1. Let's start a campaign to get you one!

  6. in addition to all your reasons above I have to add just two words - bread dough, oh, and nougat, and 5kg of cake and.....

    I think that pretty much covers it :)

    1. I forgot bread. Agreed! Who wants a bread maker anyway?

  7. I did everything by hand until a year ago.. now i absolutely adore my stand mixer even though i never thought i'd want one!

    1. I think watching Nigella use hers and keep a clean manicure keeps us all loving them to be honest. Stand Mixers Forever!

  8. Brilliant discussion and I'm so flattered by your kind words above!

    I think if I made larger cakes more often I would eat my words and buy a stand mixer. I came to the conclusion I was coping perfectly adequately without a stand mixer after having numerous occasions where I was having to deliver 9-10 items all on the same day and it occurred to me just how convenient it was to only have to wash the beaters and move on to the next bowl of whatever without having to wash the entire stand mixer bowl before I started again. I have around 5 mixing bowls meaning I can get through several tasks in quick succession without needing to do any big washing up.

    Since I already have a bread maker to mix dough and use the Magimix to mix buttercreams, I already have kit that performs some of the tasks I'd find easier with a stand mixer. It's only because I have these that I manage to cope without one. I'm not 100% convinced by the being able to walk away and do other stuff argument since knowing me, I'd get distracted and leave the batter being mixed to death. At least holding a hand mixer I have to concentrate on what I'm doing!

    I do think they look lovely - I would pick a dark graphite KitchenAid if I were buying one on looks alone. I'm never saying never, I would love to try one out properly and see for myself what a difference it makes to my cakes. It just occurred to me that for my own requirements of lots of small things being made in short time span, probably a stand mixer would not be the panacea I'd like it to be - whereas a clone of myself to help might be more useful!!

    1. I am going to have to check out the graphite ones. They would match my white goods (if such is not a contradiction in terms!).

      I wish I could come up with a counter argument for the washing up! :)

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