City Desk

Standmixers Are for Sissies

pink-mixer.jpg

Earlier today during our esteemed editor's food tip portion of the staff meeting (for the uninitiated, there's also an exercise tip and a lifestyle tip), he mentioned the essential efficiencies of having a Kitchen Aid-type standmixer when you're throwing together a batch of cookies. And in today's Post White House executive chef Christa Comerford is quoted as saying such a tool is "a must-have" in renovated kitchens.

I call bullshit.

Somehow, without a standmixer, my mother and her mother and her mother and probably a few fathers and grandfathers managed to make all manner of baked goods. I love to bake and, as such, I have tried out the "must-have" mixer.

First of all, the creaming stage requires you get in there with your spatula at regular intervals to get things consistent. With standmixers, the mixing agent, as its name implies, just stands there, requiring even more spatula work. With a handmixer, mixing butter and sugar is like a dance. One hand swirls the beaters into the ingredients, the other pushes ingredients into the swirl. It's quick and efficient. You don't have to stop the thing, raise the thing, scape down the sides, put the thing back down, turn it on again. Repeat.

Second of all, dumping in the dry ingredients is a complete fucking mess with a standmixer. Dump in too much, and you're standing in a flour fog. And even if you take it slow and incremental, as you should, you'll still end up with a bunch of flour on the counter. The mixer takes up most of the bowl, leaving little room to tip out the last bits of flour and friends.

And lastly, incorporating dry ingredients with wet ingredients, especially for cookies, is something that should be done by hand. Show a little fortitude and get in there with a wooden spoon or spatula. Or, go Nigella on that naughty, naughty dough and spank it around with your hands. Your cookie will have a better crumb and you won't overmix. And best of all, you'll be a baker, not a stupid advertisement for a piece of kitchen equipment you need like you need a cherry pitter or a garlic press or an egg slicer or a lid opener or a silicone potholder or....

Bring it.

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  • http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com Mike DeBonis

    Plus those fucking things cost like $400

  • http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com Mike DeBonis

    OK, maybe not $400, but I'm not seeing one for much less than $200.

  • sara.h

    i bought a fancy blue kitchenaid stand mixer several years ago, figuring it was something that i'd have and use forever and always.

    i used it for a while. it was ok.

    i also have a $10 betty crocker hand mixer.

    my kitchenaid mixer, after spending the last 8 months in the trunk of my car, is now in my mother's basement (because she didn't want "big heavy thing" on her counter.

    i'm with you. i'll keep my hand mixer and spoon.

  • Downtown Rez

    I always mix by hand, too. I also grind my spices using a $6 straight rolling pin as a pestle in a regular ceramic mortar. It's quick and easy.

  • Adams Morgan

    Actually, I'm going to bet that your grandmother (although I don't know how old you are) didn't even use a handmixer I bet she used a wooden spoon and some good old elbow grease.

    As for the stand mixers, sure handhelds are fine for doing small jobs, but you try making a triple batch of chocolate chip cookies for your favorite youth basketball team with a handmixer...not gonna happen.

  • Jule Banville

    I make a triple batch of several types of cookies during the holiday season and never once did I curse my handmixer. Of course I have forearms the size of Popeye's. Grrrrr.

  • eaton

    And pox on the bread hook. If you can't knead it yourself, get a loaf of Wonder, or better yet some of that shit they sell at Firehook.

  • Chris Peterson

    I guess my sissy quotient is up. After moving into a new place with abundant counter space I gave my standing mixer standing space. I used to bring it out from a storage shelf in the next room to rotate the available space with the food processor, the blender, the rice maker, and the cutting board. This made each use an experiment, and I never got good at using the thing.

    Last weekend changed that. Stiff peaked egg whites for a morning's abelskivers? Done while I used my two hands on something else (A hand mixer takes a hand on the bowl and a hand on the buzzing thing). Whole wheat pizza dough for dinner? Mixed and kneaded while I forgot it was running.

    For sissy quotient, what's up with this cookie-fuss making chatter? Who bothers with cookies anymore? With refined sugar, refined flour, and other yuk, why not just mainline some straight glucose?

    Where the standing mixer should shine--kneading all whole wheat bread--it does make itself a bother. It can barely handle two loaves at once (kneading by hand you can do four), cranking and groaning while you worry that you might have exceeded the machine's whole-grain flour limit warning. (Mine is a KitchenAid and was purchased about ten years ago.)

    Tonight we'll see how mixing and kneading a batch of fresh whole wheat pasta dough goes. If it goes as well as I expect, I'm going to un-sissify my kitchen thanks to this thing.

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