The 10 Best Stand Mixers
10. Sunbeam Heritage Series
9. Bosch Compact
8. Sunbeam MixMaster
7. Hamilton Beach Eclectrics
6. Aicok Tilt-Head
5. KitchenAid 8-Quart
4. KitchenAid 600 Series
3. Breville Scraper Pro
2. Cuisinart 12-Speed
1. KitchenAid Artisan
Whatever You Knead
The stand mixer has been a staple in the domestic and commercial kitchen for well over eighty years. For those of you who enjoy baking, cooking, or just plain kitchen decor, the stand mixer is an excellent addition to your household.
A mixer itself comes in many shapes and sizes, but the stand mixer must include a mixing bowl, a motor, and a stand of some sort. It is not to be confused with an immersion blender or a hand mixer. A blender of any kind blends ingredients into liquids, while a mixer evenly mixes the ingredients. The hand mixer and immersion blender are both handheld, while the stand mixer remains stationary. Lastly, the hand mixer will not have the power to mix thick batters or knead dough.
While the stand mixer performs similar functions as a hand mixer, it differs in design. The advantage of the stand is that it frees up your hands to tackle another culinary adventure while the mixer operates. The complaints from fatigue and inconvenience of the hand mixer has lead many consumers to switch over to a stand mixer.
This is particularly true in commercial baking scenarios where large volumes of baked goods are produced. Considering the large motor size, the stand mixer is the workhorse of the kitchen. Also, the sheer weight of the unit helps prevent the stand from "walking" when it mixes, making it an anchor on the table.
Mix It Up
Now that we know what to expect from a basic model of stand mixers, let's get fancy. Stand mixers come with many bells and whistles, some of which will be extremely beneficial, while others might have no effect for you.
Since the stand is equipped with a motor, the gears will vary from six to twelve speeds. Obviously the more options you have will customize your cooking. Some also include an ultra slow beginning speed known as a stir speed. This will prevent ingredients from splashing out of the bowl when the machine is revved on. A super fast speed will be beneficial for whipping eggs and meringues.
The motor size is the biggest advantage a stand mixer has over it's handheld counterpart. All mixers will display the size of the motor in wattage, however, the torque size is also important to know. For the home consumer, a 200-400W motor is appropriate; the higher the wattage, the more power. While most models will suffice, the thick bread dough would benefit from 300W motor of above. The commercial models will be more powerful to complete such tasks while avoiding overheating.
The basic attachments cover the majority of functions your mixer will do: beating, whisking, and a dough hook for kneading. Adjustments to these basics are convenient, but not essential. A scrape beater works wonders clearing the icing from a bowl, for instance.
KitchenAid's models of stand mixers are unique in that their attachments can be connected to the head of the mixer for a myriad of other functions: ice cream maker, pasta roller, or food processors. Given that a food processor can be attached, this might eliminate your need to buy a stand-alone processor, which will cost you more money. The KitchenAid attachments are also cross generational; this means a new attachment will work on a KitchenAid mixer from as far back as the 1930's!
A splash guard should be considered, especially if you bake a lot. This will prevent flour, eggs, and other troublesome ingredients from splashing up and out of the bowl.
The bowl should lock into the stand mixer to prevent slippage. Glass and steel are usually the materials offered. Some mixers will includes an additional bowl in another size, which can speed up baking time.
The way in which the stand mixer mixes is to be to taken for granted. A planetary motion mixer will ensure that all parts of the bowl are reached while a vertical mixer is limiting in that only one area of the bowl can be mixed.
A Brief History of The Mixer
Mixers designed for kitchen use first came into existence in the mid-19th century. The hand cranked egg beater was the oldest model and ironically enough, still in production today. As the hands of consumers began to tire, Rufus Eastman designed the first mixer with a motor in 1885. While an improvement, the mixer was handheld and cumbersome to handle.
Herbert Johnson is credited for invention of the electric stand mixer, developed in 1914. This basic model became popularized as the K frame for KitchenAid. Herbert Johnson partnered what would become KitchenAid to sell the first model named the H-5. Over the next decade, competitors entered the market and kept the production quality high.
Today, stand mixers are bought daily at most retailers where KitchenAid is still seen as the golden standard. Given the high cost of these machines, it is an investment to say the least. A properly cared for quality mixer will last a lifetime, and then some. It's a tradition to hand the mixer down from generation to generation.