Watch any professional or serious amateur cooking on television you will see a stand mixer being used. Most of the time it will be a Kitchen Aid. And if you read recipes for cakes I'm also sure they are tested using a stand mixer, probably a Kitchen Aid. This means that one will occasionally get different results from those intended in the recipe if one uses a hand held mixer. If one bakes cakes five or ten times a year, it's probably a good idea to spring for one. And with the special attachments a stand mixer can take on a host of other tasks such as grinding meat or making pasta.
In terms of making cakes, are physical differences in the mixing motion, between stand mixers and hand held ones, and I'm skeptical that mixing motions of other machines can mix quite so gently. This gentleness is quite important in the making of any pastry - cookies, cakes, etc and in the making of mashed potatoes. More vigorous whipping motions tend to toughen pastry and make potatoes gummy. It is, of course, of no importance in whipping egg-whites or cream. And certainly, if one is using cake flour the risk of gumminess is less.
If the cost seems prohibitive, consider the article about Diana Kennedy, author of My Mexico and a few other popular books on real Mexican cooking in a recent (August or September 2002) issue of the New Yorker. Ms Kennedy is out visiting a tiny provincial Mexican town doing research for her next book. She is in a kitchen that has walls and a roof but open air for windows. There is electricity, but we wonder whether it has running water. Hand-made pottery bins store dried corn, beans and spices. Corn masa is ground by hand to make tortillas. And featured prominently on a rough-hewn plank shelf is the only electric appliance in the kitchen, a KitchenAid stand mixer!
Reviews on Amazon.com show that most cookie and cake bakers prefer the Kitchen Aid Artisan or the Classic for the fact that the head pivots up, making access to the bowl very simple and straightforward. These mixers are a bit shorter and fit neatly between counter and overhead shelf. They are ideal for making cakes and cookies. If one is careful, one can make breads in small batches. But if bread-making is a regular task, consider a more powerful mixer, for bread can really challenge a mixer.
Cooks who have cooked in professional kitchens and those who like to make multiple batches of bread dough will definitely prefer the Professional stand mixer; it is a little larger and has more power. Check to be sure it fits into the spot you have for it. Kitchen Aide Professional mixers are suitable of larger batches of cake and cookie batter, and are good for bakers making single batches of bread dough. Multiple batches can be handled with some care.
Bakers at King Arthur Flour company recommend the Viking Mixer It has a large and powerful motor, and its mixing attachments are stainless steel. Some attachments of other brands are plastic over metal or bare aluminum. This is a very good all-around mixer for cakes, cookies, and breads in moderate batches. It is possible to burn out the motor, but many users put it through moderate use regularly for a very long time. The Kenwood/DeLonghi model is comparable.
Those who make large batches of bread on a regular basis will want to buy the Bosch model. There are a number of online users at Amazon.com who complain about the capabilities of their mixers to handle large batches of bread dough. There are those who have never used the Bosch who grudgingly live with something less. There are those who have lived with the Bosch and tried something else, and regretted it. And there are those who have tried the Bosch and will never go back. In all of these cases, however, the emphasis is on baking large batches of bread dough, and never on cakes, cookies, and so on.
So if you make much bread, you tend not to read or follow directions, and you don't have a sixth sense for when tools or machines are starting to reach their limits, you will want to consider a Kenwood or a Bosch. Otherwise, it's probably a good idea to stay with Kitchent Aide:
At the high end, Bosch has a built-in stainless steel model MEK 7000UC. It can actually be built into a kitchen with the motor underneath the counter. Then using various attachments it works as a mixer or food processor or blender! Unless you have given your life over to the winning cookie-baking awards, this is the ne plus ultra of mixers. It is expensive, but it replaces three appliances that would add up to about the same cost. And it way outdoes them in terms of ' cool.'
Each facet of baking requires its own list of specialty tools. In my mind, the first requirement is a deep stainless steel bowl or two. If you have a stand mixer you already have one of these, but one always wants one more.
And you will want a whisk and a spatula. Any stainless whisk will do - find one that is comfortable. I find three or four to be just about the right number of spatulas for my kitchen. You can get by with the ones you find at K-Mart, but I highly recommend ones with silicone blades. They are stable to temperatures over 400 degrees, they stay soft and pliable, and they do not leach ucky rubber taste into food. A good silicone spatula will cost a few extra bucks -the going rate is about $7- but it's definitely worth it. My spatulas have nice birch handles which makes them easier to hold than slippery plastic ones.
In a bowl combine :
Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Rest covered for 5 min. Uncover. Allow to cool uncovered for 15 min.
As it cools, put into the bread machine:
Set it for the shorter bread cycle and start it. When 15 min are up or when the bread machine beeps for additional ingredients, add the fruit and nuts.
This is a rather durable bread. Composed of whole grain, beans, fruit, and nuts it is high in balanced protien, and contains some stuff high in vitamins A&C. It has fair amount of fiber, and is high in omega-3 oils. In other words, one could survive on this bread alone for a very long time. It has a dry texture and keeps pretty well, although freezing is recommended with this bread as it is with most here.
Place into the bread machine
Set on jam cycle and run. Near the end of the jam cycle, boil 3 cups of water. When the machine beeps, remove the contents to a stainless steel bowl, place the bowl in your sink, and add three cups of boiling water. Mix this up well, and allow it to rest and cool for 1 hour . Make sure the lid of the bread machine is open, so it cools down
Wipe out the bread machine.
When an hour is up, place the following into the bread machine.
Start the machine and run it until it beeps for additional ingredients, about 30 minutes - then add 3/4 cup rice flour.
If you are a vegan, you can add 2 tsp arrowroot instead of the egg.
This bread is Not gluten-free. It is, however, dark and complex, and delicious. If you find bread bland and pasty, this will change your opinion.
Bake on whole wheat bread cycle. This recipe creates out a dark, complex rye that is tender but has a bit of chewiness in the crust. Those with an adventuresome streak should add 1/2 cup raisins and 1 T. water to the recipe. And if you want it a little softer and cakelike, add 2 T. butter
It would be a mistake to imagine that a bread machine can perfectly emulate a French bakery. One of the charms of the French baguette is its particular shape and its particular crusty texture. One can get reasonably close on texture, but, if one bakes bread in a bread machine one cannot create the baguette shape. This is a reasonable substitute. A serious baker might make the dough in the bread machine, then shape it and bake it in the oven.
Bake on the long bread cycle dark crust.
Bread flours differ from biscuit or pastry flours. They are made from high protien wheat. The protien in wheat is gluten and it is gluten that gives the bread its springiness and crustiness. It is for this very reason that it is used for bread, but other flours are used for baking cakes and biscuits. Bread flours typically contain 12% protien by weight, though one can find ones up to 13 %.
Pastry flours are low protien, low gluten flours. They have as little as 2/3 the protien as bread flour, being typically 8% - 9% protein. All purpose flour is halfway between, and this makes it suitable for both breads and pastries, but less than ideal for either. A serious baker or cook is likely to stock bread flour for breads and pastry flour for biscuits and cakes, especially if she enjoys crusty bread and melt-in-the-mouth cakes.
In making millet bread, it seems mighty inconvenient to toast the millet and flour first. So why do it? There are two reasons. One is that it makes the millet grain a little bit softer. Without the soaking cycle, the millet in the bread will be too hard and crunchy. The second reason is that yeast - having a metabolic system that is not far different from our own - prefer toast to bread. Toasting the grain and soaking it in hot water uncoils the starches, breaks some down into maltose and other complex sugars, and makes them available for the yeast as food. This completely changes the texture of the bread, making it supple and airy where otherwise it would be dense and crumbly.
Bob's Red Mill
King Arthur Flour Co.
Copyright S.R. Brubaker 2002 - 2006.