Thursday, December 29, 2011

Kitchen essentials: Stand or hand mixer?

Whether you’re a serious baker or just start out, you will need to purchase an electric mixer, and I would make it one of the first pieces you purchase. So the question becomes: should I buy a hand mixer or a stand mixer? Here are a few things to think about before your purchase:

• How often to you plan on using it? If you’ll only use it once in a while for the occasional cake or batch of pancakes, a hand mixer will be fine. If you expect to be making lots of baked goods, including breads and large cake recipes, you’d best opt for the stand mixer.

• Do you have someplace to store it? A hand mixer can easily be stored in a drawer or cabinet, whereas a stand mixer will be staying out on the countertop or need to be stored in a large space in a cabinet.

• Are you willing to spend the money on quality? There are inexpensive hand and stand mixers on the market, but you often get what you pay for. A good quality hand mixer will cost between $50 and $100, while a good quality stand mixer will be in the $200 to $300 range.

• Do you have any physical limitations? Carpel tunnel and other arm or shoulder injuries can limit use with a hand mixer, especially with heavier dough. Again, this will be dependent on how much you’ll be using it.

• Looking for extras? While there are attachments you can use on hand mixers, a stand mixer, particularly a popular model like KitchenAid, can become a kitchen workhorse, especially if you like to do things like make your own pasta or sausage.

I personally own an inexpensive hand mixer (I also own a KitchenAid hand mixer as a back-up, because I know this one will die soon!) and a KitchenAid 325-watt Heavy Duty stand mixer with bowl lift. If I’m doing a lot of baking, the stand mixer comes out and I leave water in the sink to wash things up following each recipe, whereas if I’m just making one batch of cookies or one cake, the hand mixer comes out.

If you’re a beginning baker, I would opt for a hand mixer to start with. If you’re thinking about upgrading your utensils, I would opt for the stand mixer – my preferred brand is KitchenAid, as I hope to get into pasta-making eventually, but other quality brands include Cuisinart, Breville and Viking (they’re also a bit more expensive than KitchenAid).

**Disclosure: I receive no compensation from any brand names mentioned in this article.
Image: Wikimedia Commons/Cmh

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