The Best Mix of Things

Hand-held, placed on a stand, with spinning bowls or stationary ones – Inside weighs in on the pros and cons of the mix bag of cake mixes in the market

Issue: Sep 2014

Forget whisking by hand, embrace technology and pick from any number of electric cake mixers to make your baking dreams come true
Forget whisking by hand, embrace technology and pick from any number of electric cake mixers to make your baking dreams come true

Until the first electric cake mixer was invented in 1908, womenfolk the world over tireless and painstakingly did all their batter and dough mixing in the kitchen by hand, powered by no more than sheer muscle strength and stamina. Today we have so many types and brands of cake mixers, the options can be confusing.

Inside sorts through what is available and helps you decide the best mixer for you.

1. What’s Out There

Immersion blenders like the Bosch Hand Blender (S$59) is a type of hand mixer
Immersion blenders like the Bosch Hand Blender (S$59) is a type of hand mixer
Photo credit: Harvey Norman

Hand, stand, planetary, spiral – do not let these terms faze you. There are really only two types of electric cake mixers: hand mixers and stand mixers. Hand mixers are, as their name suggests, hand-held mixers. They come in two forms: the immersion blender (also known as the stick mixer or stick blender) and the hand mixer itself. The immersion blender is a single shaft with beaters at the end.

The hand mixer features a handle mounted over an enclosed lightweight motor that powers the beaters.

Stand mixers are mixers where the motor driving the rotary action is mounted in a frame or stand allowing them to stand alone either on the counter top or floor. For home use, there are two popular types of stand mixers: spiral and planetary.

Spiral mixers have spiral-shaped agitators that remain stationary while the bowls rotate. With planetary mixers, the agitator moves around the static bowl.

(Left) Hand mixers like the Kenwood Hand Mixer (400w) (S$189); (Right) An example of a stand mixer is the Bosch Kitchen Machine 900W MU54W41(S$699)
(Left) Hand mixers like the Kenwood Hand Mixer (400w) (S$189) have lightweight motors encased within the handle; (Right) An example of a stand mixer is the Bosch Kitchen Machine 900W MU54W41(S$699) which lets you mix hands-free
Photo credit: Courts

2. What You Want to Make

What type of mixer you buy depends on what you want to do with the mixer. Immersion blenders are great for pureeing soups and baby food as well as emulsifying sauces. They are lightweight and handy but can only manage small amounts.

Hand mixers are like the whisks of old with an upgraded power source. What would once have taken 20 minutes to half an hour to achieve by hand can now be done in less than five minutes. They are as portable as the immersion blenders but more powerful, with more speed controls to choose from. Easy to store, easy to take out and clean, they are perfect for moderate baking done on occasion.

The stand mixer’s plus points are its power, size, and multiple functions. It comes with multiple beaters and special attachments that allow it to do different things. The spiral mixer, for example is particularly adept at kneading dough. Because its agitators remain stationery during the mixing, it can mix the dough without increasing its temperature, ensuring the dough will rise properly. Spiral mixers are, therefore, excellent for different types of bread dough and even pie dough, scones, and biscuits.

(Left) The immersion blender is great for making thick soups, purees, and baby food; (right) Whipped to a perfect peak, take a hand mixer five minutes and less to create this delectable delight
(Left) The immersion blender is great for making thick soups, purees, and baby food; (right) Whipped to a perfect peak, it would take a hand mixer five minutes and less to create this delectable delight

Planetary mixers have versatility on their side. Using the paddle attachment, the planetary mixer can blend and cream mixtures; the whip can be used to aerate ingredients to create meringue, sponge cake, whipped cream, and mousse; and the dough hook can be used to create bread and pizza bases. The spiral mixer can neither whip nor blend.

For the serious baker who intends to create different types of baked goods of a sizeable amount, the stand mixer is a must. On the minus side, they are larger and harder to clean than hand mixers.

3. How Much You Want to Make

The Philips Stand Mixer (S$189) is powered by a 750W motor and can make anything from sponge cakes to hard dough
The Philips Stand Mixer (S$189) is powered by a 750W motor and can make anything from sponge cakes to hard dough
Photo credit: Harvey Norman

What type of mixer you want also depends on how much you want to make. Hand mixers are great for making small batches of several things because you do not have to change bowls.

Stand mixers allow you to blend, whip, knead, and mix in large quantities for long periods of time. They are also excellent time-savers because you can simply leave the machine to mix on their own. They are only limited by the capacity of their bowls.

4. How Often You Want to Use It

If you are going to be baking regularly, invest in a planetary mixer. Go for one with a five- to six-quart bowl. A bowl that size can accommodate enough batter for 13 dozen cookies and eight loaves of bread. A locking-tilt feature is also important. This means that when the beaters are lifted, they remain in that position and will not crash into the bowl when weighed down by dough or batter. Look out also for stability so the mixer will not tilt easily at high speeds.

(Left) Kitchen Aid KSM 150 (S$829) come in 10 speeds; (right) Kenwood Kitchen Machine (S$1499) comes with a timer
(Left) Kitchen Aid KSM 150 (S$829) come in 10 speeds to let you vary the strength with which you want your ingredients mixed; (right) Kenwood Kitchen Machine (S$1499) comes with a timer and can be fitted with different attachments for myriad functions
Photo credit: Courts and Harvey Norman

5. How Much You Want to Spend

The final consideration is, of course, cost. Electric mixers can cost anything between under S$50 to a few thousand dollars depending on the power and features offered. The Kenwood Kitchen Machine (S$1499), for example, has an electronic timer built and comes with an array of optional attachments that allow you to chop, grate, slice, whisk, knead, mince, mix, grind, mill, blend, and even squeeze.

In the end, the best mixer is the one that best fits your needs. And with all that you now know about the cake mixer, getting the right mix of things will be a synch!

Shop with us:

Courts
109 North Bridge Road
Funan DigitaLife Mall
#03-10/12/13
Singapore 179097
Tel: 1800-222 6868
www.courts.com.sg
Courts
1 Vista Exchange Green
The Star Vista
#01-14/15/16
Singapore 138617
Tel: 1800-222 6868
www.courts.com.sg
Courts
21 Chua Chu Kang Ave 4
Lot One Shoppers’ Mall
#03-01
Singapore 689812
Tel: 1800-222 6868
www.courts.com.sg
Courts
4 TampinesCentral 5
Tampines Mall
#03-25
Singapore 529510
Tel: 1800-222 6868
www.courts.com.sg
Harvey Norman
109 North Bridge Road
Funan DigitaLife Mall
#B1-01
Singapore 179097
Tel: (65) 6334 5432
www.harveynorman.com.sg
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