Cake mixers are any electric mixer that you use to make cake. Before electric mixers became commonplace, to make a cake, you'd have to mix everything by hand. You can still do this today, if you don't have a mixer, but a mixer makes it a lot faster and easier. If you're in the market for a cake mixer, there are a wide variety of choices to suit your needs and budget.
Stand mixers are heavy, usually weighing around 25 to 30 pounds. As the name implies, they stand upright on their own while on your counter. Different attachments are available, including paddles for mixing cakes, as well as other attachments for mixing bread dough, grinding meat and making homemade pasta. Some stand mixers have heads that tilt up so you can access the attachments and remove the bowl, while others feature a crank that lets you lower and raise the bowl into place. When new, stand mixers range anywhere from $100 to $500 at the time of publication, depending on brand and model.
Hand mixers perform some of the same functions as stand mixers, but require you to hold them in your hand as you use them. Some models have bowl rests that allow you to suspend them on the side of larger bowls when they're not in use, such as if you're interrupted while in the middle of mixing your cake. However, you can't use the mixer while it's resting on the side of the bowl, as it's not stable and batter will end up all over your kitchen. These mixers are less expensive than stand mixers, and are not as powerful. However, if you only make cakes once in awhile, they can be an attractive option due to their comparatively lower prices.
Wand mixers, also called stick or immersion blenders, look like big electric wands with mixer attachments that plug in. These usually consist of a motor unit that plugs into a standard electric socket, to which you can attach a whisk, blender, or sometimes even a mini food processor attachment. They're lighter and more compact than hand mixers, and can perform many of the same functions. In addition to being useful for mixing cakes, they also make it easy to mix sauces right in the pan, such as hot chocolate sauce to pour over your finished cake.
What type of mixer you choose depends largely on how often you make cake, and also whether or not you make other things in your kitchen. If you make a lot of cakes, and also make a lot of other foods for which a mixer is useful, consider investing in a heavy-duty stand mixer. Research various models by companies like Kitchenaid and Viking to see what best suits your needs and budget. If you don't make cakes that often, consider a hand or wand mixer instead. Both usually come with a variety of attachments, so you'll be able to mix cakes straight out of the box. Try different models to see what feels best in your hand, since you'll need to hold it while you mix your cakes. As with the stand mixers, do research before you buy. Even though they're less expensive, you want to get the best model for your needs.
- "The Professional Chef (Eighth Edition)"; The Culinary Institute of America; 2006
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