What can I prepare in a stand mixer?
A stand mixer is a great way to easily mix up cookie dough, knead bread, whip cream, eggs, or butter, or prepare any sort of baked good. It’s a great way to make aerated butter or whipped cream, as well as ensuring that all your batters and dough are thoroughly mixed. It can also be used to mash potatoes at Thanksgiving. It’s a wonderful alternative to hand-mixing, especially if you have arthritis or are prone to wrist pain. Depending on the model and the attachments you get, you can also prepare home-made pasta, sausages, orange juice, ice cream, or other delights.
How to use a stand mixer?
In the following video you learn how a stand mixer works, and how you can best use them. Although this video focuses on KitchenAid mixers it is essentially the same for any other model.
How many speeds should I look for in a stand mixer?
You’ll want to make sure you have at least five speed settings for your stand mixer. Low speeds are essential for tasks like mixing dry ingredients; using too high speed will send your flour up into the kitchen in a cloud. Conversely, high speeds are important for whipping heavy cream or properly beating egg whites. Some models offer as many as 6 or more speeds for total control over the process.
Does wattage matter?
Anything with 250 watts or less will not be sufficient for most kitchen tasks, so opt for models with more wattage. Breville offers a standing mixer that boasts 550 watts, while Cuisinart makes a 1000-watt model that will be more than sufficient for your needs.
How big of a stand mixer do I need?
Depending on your personal needs, you can choose between one of the standard 4.5 to 5.5 quart models or invest in a larger model that can accommodate 6 or more quarts. With a 4.5 quart mixer you can easily make a batch of cookie dough or knead a single loaf of bread. A 5.5 quart model may be able to accommodate two batches of cookie dough. Larger models can knead 8 loaves of bread or more at a time. KitchenAid has a 6-quart mixer that can hold as many as 13 batches of cookie dough at one time. Consider your own needs when thinking about size. Also, think about storage. If you have a large kitchen and can keep your stand mixer on the counter at all times, you can buy a large, heavy model and keep it on your counter. If you have a small kitchen, you may want to purchase a smaller model that can be stored when not in use.
Does what I plan to make in my mixer affect the capacity?
Yes, quite a bit. Different types of batter and dough will require more or less room to be left in the mixer during use. For example, if you are making drier dough that has a lot of flour, you will need to prepare a smaller batch. If you are preparing a watery batter, or a batter that has a lot of oil or shortening, you can put more in at a time. Never fill your mixer to the brim.
Which are better, tilt-head or bowl-lift stand mixers?
With a tilt-head mixer, the bowl does not move at all and you lower or raise the head as needs. This is the most common type of mixer you will find. Bowl-lift mixers, available on some KitchenAid models, are the opposite, where the bowl is lifted or lowered to meet the beaters. Bowl-lift mixers are generally easier to store and tend to have larger bowls, but tilt-head mixers give you more control over the mixer and allow you to scrape the bowl easier during use, and it’s easier to add additional ingredients in the middle of mixing.
What sort of features should I look for in a stand mixer?
Some good features to look for include planetary action, a countdown timer, a variety of possible attachments, and a slow-start feature.
What is planetary action?
If a stand mixer has “planetary action”, this means that the beater moves around the bowl and at the same time rotates on its own. You can think about it in the same way the earth rotates the sun, both orbiting the sun and rotating on its own. Planetary action is a great feature that makes beating or mixing speedy and efficient, and it also helps scrape the sides of the bowl continuously so that you don’t have to scrape them yourself. Normal mixers use one or two beaters that rotate on their own axes but not around the bowl.
What are the benefits of countdown timers?
Countdown timers can be very handy, especially when it comes to kneading dough. A countdown timer allows you to set the timer for a certain number of minutes, and the mixer will automatically shut off after the time has run down. This saves you from having to constantly monitor the time.
What sorts of attachments are available on a stand mixer?
Many different stand mixers offer a variety of attachments that can expand the versatility of your stand mixer. Some of the attachments you can get include vegetable slicers, ice cream makers, graters, pasta makers, grinders for sausage, and juicers. KitchenAid and Cuisinart both offer models with a wide range of attachments. Almost every mixer on the market also offers a dough hook, a paddle, and a whisk for cream or egg whites.
Why is a slow-start feature beneficial?
A slow-start feature allows you to begin mixing at a lower speed to avoid excess splatter or having to scrape the sides of the bowl immediately.
How is clean-up with a stand mixer?
Look for a stand mixer that is made with stainless steel, dishwasher-safe parts for an easy cleaning experience. It’s a good idea to clean the bowl immediately after use, because many batters and dough can get caked-on and make it hard to clean.
Will I need to perform any regular maintenance on my stand mixer?
In general, stand mixers require little to no maintenance. If you use your stand mixer regularly, you may want to grease it annually to keep the parts running smoothly. Otherwise, as long as you keep the mixers and bowl clean, you should not experience any difficulties with your mixer. Checking the warranty information of your stand mixer before buying one can help save you time and money, should anything go wrong with you mixer during its lifetime.
How noisy is a stand mixer?
A cheaper, low-quality stand mixer can be loud enough to disturb conversation in the next room, but high-quality mixers can be incredibly quiet. You’ll likely use your mixer for short periods of time unless you knead dough regularly, so how much quietness matters to you can make a big price difference. No mixer should create a rattling or shaking noise when used.
How much does a stand mixer cost?
A stand mixer can cost less than $100 or more than $400. The more you are willing to spend, the more powerful and versatile your stand mixer will be. Higher-priced models also tend to have longer lifespans and a very high-quality model could last you a lifetime. If you are going to knead dough regularly, be sure to get a high-quality, higher-priced model that can stand up to the task. If you only plan to use your stand mixer for occasional baking, you can probably do fine with a lower-priced model.