I love my KitchenAid fiercely, but I’d be lying if I said it’s because I can’t live without it.
It’s a family heirloom, handed down from my great-grandmother to my mum to me; according to the model number, it turns 50 this year. I’ve moved it across the continent twice — from upstate New York to Oregon and back to Pennsylvania — and at least half a dozen times within the city of Portland.
But I use it three times a year, max, usually when I wake up one day with a sudden fixation on layer cake.
This is the cold, hard truth about stand mixers: They do exactly one thing better than anything else, and that’s butter-based sponge cakes, particularly those frosted with Italian or Swiss meringue buttercream. Literally everything else can be accomplished with another appliance.
Oil-based cakes, my favourite kind, can be mixed in a single bowl with a whisk.
A stand mixer makes kneading enriched bread dough a breeze, but so does a nice, long rest in the fridge.
Regular yeasted bread dough — or sourdough — doesn’t even need to be kneaded at all.
Cookie dough comes together much faster in the food processor, as does buttercream frosting; immersion blenders make fabulous whipped cream; the best machine for pie dough is your very own fingertips.
Unless you’ve got it bad for buttery, fluffy layer cakes and meringue, you probably don’t need a stand mixer — and even if you think you do, try a hand mixer first. They aren’t as powerful, but they are cheaper, easier to store, and more than capable of getting the job done.
When — or if — you burn through your first motor, it might be time to splurge on the KitchenAid of your dreams.