Choosing the right stand mixer for your kitchen

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Unless you are a big fan of working your arm muscles when cooking, every household should consider to have a stand mixer. Stand mixers are truly considered indispensable to home chefs, weekend or professional cooks alike. They handle a broad number of everyday chores from mixing cake mixture to mashing potatoes and perfect meatloafs, making gravies, puddings, dips and more. They also have the capacity and the power to perform tough mixing jobs such as kneading bread dough, making pasta dough and whipping cream or egg whites to stiff peaks.

Considering that all  stand mixers work in a similar fashion, with introduction of the "planetary action" mixing ability has significantly improved. In simple terms, "planetary action" mixing means that the beater on the mixer's head rotating in a clockwise direction and the shaft revolving counter-clockwise. This combination helps the batter or dough mix incorporate better and there is less need for scraping.

Points to consider when choosing a stand mixer

When choosing a stand mixer, a few basic points need to be taken into account which will allow you to get the best machine for your needs.

1.Size of the machine

With many models available on the market you really need to take into consideration who is going to use the machine and where is it going to stay when not in use. Some mixers are very heavy, which makes it very hard to move them around. This point needs to be considered particularly by people suffering from back, neck or other physical problems prohibiting them to move or lift heavy items. It is advisable to allocate a specific place for the mixer in the kitchen, where all the attachments can be kept nearby, so it is convenient and time efficient to operate.

2. Power of the motor

As a general rule, the more powerful is the motor, the stronger the machine. Unfortunately, this rule does not always apply. Some mixers may use more wattage to operate than other models and power output may be less than denoted.
Having said that, the minimum power output for any stand mixer should not be less than 600Watts.

3. Mixing bowl capacity

You should consider how you intend to use the mixer. If you plan to bake for a large family or frequent social events, or make several loaves of bread a week, you need a powerful motor (a minimum of 600Watts ) and a large capacity bowl ( minimum 5L ) Basing your decision on capacity is very important. If your needs are greater than the capacity of the mixing bowl you bought, you'll need to split your recipes and process them in batches which will wait your time and add unnecessary workload.

4. Accessories and attachments

When choosing a stand mixer for your kitchen, it is important to consider what attachments does the machine come with already or what provisions does it have for addition of extra attachments. In today's busy world, this is very important as it can really minimise the amount of appliances you have to have on your bench and utilise your cooking.
As a bare minimum, any stand mixer should come with appropriate dough hook, egg whisk and a flat beater to allow for you to use it for baking. Some mixers come with extra attachments and accessories in addition to this. Many mixer models come with a hub to connect optional accessories including meat grinder, pasta, blender or sausage maker. Although these accessories add to the cost of a mixer, they make it more functional and reduce the amount of appliances you need to keep in your kitchen. To be able to operate extra attachments, the mixer should have sufficient power, therefore the power output of the mixer is very important.

5. Limitations of the stand mixer to keep in mind

Stand mixers have some limitations. Even the best mixers on the market have trouble handling very stiff dough, eg bagel dough or pasta dough. When mixing dough causes the motor to become sluggish and stall, it means your mixer is not designed to handle that capacity or denseness of dough. Some mixer models have inbuilt burnout protection which will stop the mixer's motor from becoming overworked and overheated.
Some manufacturers recommend to finish kneading dense dough by hand, even with a powerful mixer. To stop motor burnout, always follow manufacturer's guideline and never allow your mixer to run continuously for more than 7 minutes.

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