Baking and food prep – which mixer is right for you?
Kneading, mixing, whisking, chopping. Baking and general food prep can be a slog. Gadgets can make it so much easier – but which is right for you: a stand mixer, hand mixer or food processor?
04 Aug 2015
In a nutshell: Baker’s best friend – take the strain out of whipping, whisking and kneading with the ultimate baking tool
Keen baker? The stand mixer is where it’s at. Everyday baking is effortless. A large bowl sits in a solid frame with a levered arm above it with the whisk or beater attached.
It’s designed to cream butter and sugar together, knead dough and whisk eggs and cream. Your stand mixer will come with these attachments:
- balloon whisk – beat eggs, whip cream – great for getting air into the mixture
- beater – fold together cake batter or make icing and buttercream
- dough hook – easily knead dough for easy bread-making
With a stand mixer you can
- Multi-task: You don’t need to hold a stand mixer. Stick in your butter and sugar and let it do the work while you get on with something else.
- Mix well: your cake ingredients will be properly mixed – it shouldn’t leave flour around the edges of the bowl.
- Knead dough: Dough is a tough cookie. It needs plenty of power to knead it into shape. Stand mixers are more powerful than hand mixers. Motors can be as powerful as 1,000 watts.
- Handle big bakes: Baking a large batch? You can find stand mixers with large 4.6 to 4.8 litre bowls.
- Keep your sides clean: keep your mix in the bowl with flexible beaters and splash guards.
- Have more control: Features like slow start, automatic stop and other settings give you more control over your bake.
Things to consider
- All about baking: Stand mixers are focused on baking – whereas food processors do many different things. If baking is your main focus, a stand mixer is perfect.
- Worktop space: With their frame and attached bowl, a stand mixer is best kept out on the worktop.
A stand mixer we love: The KitchenAid Artisan is the stand mixer of most home bakers’ dreams. It blends curvy retro stylings with a powerful motor, large mixing bowl and other cool features. It excels at whisking eggs, creaming butter and mixing cake batter. Check out the KitchenAid Artisan
Another stand mixer we love: Whisk yourself happy with the retro-looking Kenwood kMix KMX52. It mixes, kneads and whisks like a dream - it’s not just a pretty case. Its flexi-beater gets every last bit of flour from the bowl’s edges, and you can go from kneading dough to whisking eggs with the 8-speed motor. Check out the Kenwood kMix
In a nutshell: Great for occasional bakers – whip cream and beat eggs without spending much
Do the odd bit of baking every couple of months? Need something to whisk eggs and whip cream? A hand mixer may see you right.
Smaller, less powerful and lacking the same versatility as a stand mixer, a hand mixer is a cheaper alternative for less-serious bakers.
It’s a small, oblong-shaped appliance that you attach a whisk to. You hold it in your hand when using it – it’s not supported by a frame.
With a hand mixer you can
- Whisk eggs and whip cream and other basic baking tasks.
- Save money: Hand mixers are cheaper to buy than stand mixers – but they lack many of the features.
- Save space: These small handheld devices also take up much less space as there’s no large bowl attachment.
Things to consider
- Less power: Regularly kneading heavy dough? Hand mixers have less powerful motors.
- Not for multitasking: You have to hold the hand mixer while using it. You can’t go off and do something else.
- Messy worktops: You’re not working with a fixed bowl equipped with a splash guard. Expect splashes of batter to escape on to your worktops.
A hand mixer we love: Mix, knead and whisk with ease with the Kenwood kMix. It’s got plenty of power for a hand mixer, and is super-easy to control and clean. Check out the kMix HM790RD
In a nutshell: An all-round food-prep tool that can be used for certain baking tasks
A food processor is your go-to kitchen gadget. Chopping, slicing, grating, mixing are made easy. These heavy-going tasks are blitzed through in seconds.
A plastic bowl sits on top of a motor housed in a case. Spinning blades sit at the bottom of the bowl. These can be replaced for different attachments depending what you’re doing.
With a food processer you can
- Chop: Chop onion, herbs and nuts with the blade attachment.
- Slice: Slice carrots or cucumber to your liking with the slicing attachment.
- Grate: Grate carrots, cheese, fresh ginger and chocolate with the grating attachment.
- Mix: Whizz together ingredients to make stuffing, curry pastes and pesto.
- Knead: Making homemade bread? The dough can be kneaded in your food processor.
- Whisk and mix: Mix cake batter and whisk eggs (depending on the model).
Things to consider
- Not designed for baking alone: A food processor isn’t designed specifically for baking. It’s an all-round food preparation tool that also has baking functions.
A food processor we love: Want to bake as well as cook? The Kenwood FPM800 is perfect. It’s as good at mixing, whisking and whipping as it as at chopping and slicing. Check out the Kenwood FPM 800
On a budget? You can chop and slice, blend and knead with the smaller, less powerful Kenwood FP586.