No baker's kitchen is complete without a good mixer. From whipping cream to mixing batter, these small appliances make easy work of the tasks that can be a literal pain in the elbow. There are a few things to consider when shopping for your first mixer, with the main factor being whether you'd prefer a hand mixer or a stand mixer. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and only you can decide which one is best. But we can help! Keep reading to learn more about picking the best mixer for your kitchen.
Things to Keep in Mind...
Stand Mixers vs. Hand Mixers
A stand mixer is, as its name suggests, a mixer that stands on your countertop. It usually comes with a mixing bowl matched to fit the mixer. The most well-known stand mixer is the KitchenAid Stand Mixer, which is loved for both its functions and the myriad color choices available. Stand mixers are heavy and packed with powerful motors.
Hand mixers are lightweight, portable devices that let you easily move your mixing operation to any spot in the kitchen, and allow for mixing in any of the larger bowls you may own. They're great for quick tasks, and easily stow in a cabinet or large drawer.
Now let's take a deeper look at the pros and cons of each type of mixer.
Like stand mixers, hand mixers need at least six different speeds. The slowest is essential for adding dry ingredients without creating a dust storm. The faster speeds will aerate your egg whites before you lose interest in the idea of baked Alaska. Some hand mixers offer an ingenious “soft” or “slow start” feature in which the selected speed is gradually attained (it actually happens in seconds) and helps reduce splatter.
Minimum power should be 175 watts, but a high wattage is not the only indicator of power. The design of the beaters also contributes to its overall performance. Old-style beaters had a thick post down the center, while the best new designs feature two slender beaters of thin, curved stainless steel wire. They work better and are easier to clean.
A mixer should be sturdy and durable but light enough to be held comfortably for 5 to 10 minutes. Around 2 pounds is comfortable for most people. Handles that slant up toward the front of the mixer (as opposed to running parallel to the mixer body) are more comfortable to grip and are designed to reduce the strain on your forearm. If you are left-handed, a model with a swivel cord will make it easier to maneuver the machine.
Mixers without seams on the underside are easier to clean. The surfaces should be smooth with no ingredient-trapping cracks or crevices. Models with touch-pad controls are easy to wipe clean.
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