Help - Hand mixer, food processor, stand mixer???

ashleysfFebruary 17, 2006

Growing up in a family of diabetics, we very seldom baked or made desserts at home as a consideration to those with severe diet restrictions. So, I have no exposure to baking.

Now that I am married to a man with a sweet tooth and who has cravings for dessert, I would like to start baking instead of serving store bought dessert frequently. I want to buy a mixer - I have seen chefs on TV shows use a hand mixer or a powerful food processor or a stand mixer. I am not sure which one I should get. Considering that I am a beginner to baking, what would be a good purchase for bread, cake and cookies? I am hoping to bake 2-3 times a month to begin with. Thanks for your help.

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fairegold

Different issues altogether. You can't easily do a tough cookie dough with a hand-held mixer, but you can do batters easily. A food process is a good tool for smaller amounts of a heavy dough. Real yeast dough, only a stand mixer or by hand.

In your shoes, I'd buy one machine and see how things go. Start with a $20 hand mixer and work on some cakes or brownies. A good stand mixer will be at least $250 unless you can spring a good deal (I have an extra... maybe we should talk?). And a good food processor will be $150+.

Did you ask this over on the Cooking Forum? No shortage of opinions and recipes over there!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2006 at 7:09PM
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bungalowbees

I think this is a good question for the Cooking Forum. Have you visited there?

I'm opinionated but for some reason I find this a hard question to answer. The answer depends as much on what your budget can afford as how often & why you'll use different gizmos. We all behave differently in the kitchen. I try to use as few gadgets as possible because I just don't like a lot of stuff. YMMV! For example, I prefer a knife to a food processor, and I knead bread by hand several times a week because I enjoy it.

I do think a stand mixer with a dough hook would be a great purchase if you think it will encourage you to try new things. I had only a hand-me-down hand mixer for years & I have to say there were things I sometimes didn't attempt because I didn't enjoy holding that thing, esp for a while. Esp when I needed to grab something "over there."

Okay, I'm coming up with an opinion:

If the money is flowing & you've got baking fever, get a stand mixer. You'll have a lot of flexiblity for baking. If you're not sure baking is in your blood, get a hand held mixer.

Then if you start to have more fun than a hand mixer should, consider investing in the big puppy.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cooking Forum

    Bookmark   February 17, 2006 at 7:24PM
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cupofkindness

I really want a KitchenAid 6 quart stand mixer, and not only does the $400 price tag frighten me, but I wonder where to keep it. Instead, I have a cheap Black and Decker hand mixer that came in it's own storage box, plus a pair of beaters and a pair of whisks that also store in the box. I got this at a Walgreens for less than $20. I love that it has it's own box, I keep it in my baking cupboard next to the flour. The only time I really, really want a stand mixer is when I make cookie dough. The hand mixer just can't move though the dough. However, I bake things like muffins or Brownies nearly every day and the hand mixer cuts through batter easily. It's easy to set up and easy to put away as well. The stand mixer appears to me to be a project to set up and clean up. Now, I also bake a lot of bread. For that I use my Oster bread machine. I believe that a bread machine is the most effective way to make dough if you want it made by machine. I only make the dough in the machine, after the first rise I transfer it into glass pans. So KitchenAids claims that it's biggest stand mixer can deal with 8 cups of flour (or whatever it says) doesn't phase me, I wouldn't use a stand mixer to make bread dough unless my bread machine broke.

Most of us need a good hand mixer whether we have a stand mixer or not, like for mashing potatoes (I do have a potato masher for that, but some cooks mash the potatoes in the pot with a hand mixer). Start there and see what develops with your cooking style.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2006 at 9:24PM
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meskauskas

I had a hand mixer for 25 years because I never had the counter space for a stand mixer...and then I redid the kitchen. We have more counter space now, so I got a stand mixer and food processor(both are Viking).

I can't tell you how wonderful it is to be able to have a food processor and stand mixer out on the counter for easy use. There's a big difference in what you can produce with a hand mixer and a stand mixer. I'm thoroughly enjoying my stand mixer, and I haven't used my hand mixer once since I got it. Bread and cookie doughs come together much easier, batters are smoother, and being able to mix hands free is wonderful.

If I had to decide between having the stand mixer or the food processor, I believe I would choose the stand mixer, but maybe that's just me.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2006 at 10:46PM
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sawmill

We have a nice Cuisinart food processor, which I never bother to pull out. (I do use a mini-chopper with some frequency instead.) I had a hand mixer which could not handle cookie dough, so I seldom used it. We had an ancient Sunbeam mixer whose motor burned up on cookie dough. After the new kitchen was installed, I bought a DeLonghi stand mixer and it opened a whole new world to me. Now I bake cookies just to see it run! So easy!
I do not like to leave things out on the counter, so it is on a bottom cabinet shelf. Although it has a 780 watt motor, it is easy to lift and move and the non-stick beaters make clean-up very simple. Love it!

Here is a link that might be useful: DeLonghi Stand Mixer

    Bookmark   February 18, 2006 at 3:09AM
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momj47

Tough decision.

You'll need all three eventually, since they do different things and do them well. Think about what you want to do most, and get that appliance first.

I got a Sunbeam Mixmaster as a wedding gift 35 years ago. It still works (as does my mother's Mixmaster from the early 40's), though I don't use it any more. The mixer came off the stand so I could do mashed potatoes. I probably got a portable mixer for Christmas or birthday a few years later, and we bought a Cuisinart in 1978. I still use it, too.

I now have a KitchenAid mixer, which I love, as well as a small and a mini food processor. I also have a portable mixer and the Black and Decker Handi Mixer and a stick blender. I use them all. While it may seem excessive, having the right and right sized tool for the job makes cooking easier.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2006 at 9:21AM
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mrsmarv

Another stand mixer owner here. Like meskauskas, I have a Viking stand mixer. Santa (er, Mr. Marv) bought it for me for Christmas. It was a replacement for an old KA that went to mixer heaven. I researched many brands and models and decided that the Viking would fit my needs. I have the 5 qt/800 watt model, which is perfect for me. I decided that the 7qt. model would be overkill, since I usually bake quite frequently as opposed to large quantities (I find it very therapeutic) and there are only two of us at home. I bake alot of bread and do desserts at least twice a week, as well. It can handle a double batch of bread dough with ease, and makes quick work of cake batter, cookie dough, etc. King Arthur Flour/Baker's Catalogue is a good place to start if you have questions. They are very knowledgeable and use many products in their test kitchens. They will give you alot of feedback, answer questions and ask you questions (like how many times a week do you bake, what do you bake, how many people are in your household). I would suggest calling their toll-free number and ask to speak to one of their bakers. It might be a good place to start.
One of the criteria for a replacement mixer was how much room it would take up, and how easy it would be to move. The Viking has wheels on the back, so it's very easy to maneuver around the countertop. I'm extremely happy with my choice.
I also have a food processor, which I use for shredding veggies, pureeing soups, etc. I very rarely use it for baking ingredients, except for the occasional pie crust, where you need speed and little kneading.

Here is a link that might be useful: Viking mixer

    Bookmark   February 18, 2006 at 9:50AM
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