BAKING WITHOUT A STAND MIXER
I never invested in a good stand mixer, since I don't do much baking (understatement!), and also have no room to store it, or put it on my counter. Can anyone share recipes for your favorite simple to make, but yummy baked goods that can be easily prepared using a hand mixer, or mixing spoon?
If you do, please be sure to give guidelines about what mixing speeds to use for the various steps. I find that many recipes don't necessarily give this information, and I want to get it right.
Thanks so much!
Dear Bzd, I learned to bake 60 years ago when my family was living in
Argentina. We didn't have ANY appliances, just a 20-inch gas stove with no control on the oven and a miniature refrigerator with six-inch freezer space that made a few ice cubes. Have been baking ever since. Have never had a stand mixer. You can buy a hand-held electric mixer at the drug store for $7 that will save your arm when beating egg whites stiff. Other than that, a wooden spoon does fine. Persevere.
Just adding my vote: I bake, a whole, whole lot, and there's never any recipe that 'needs' a stand mixer, even if it calls for one. I've used my parent's one at home, and my opinion is that a stand mixer makes it a lot easier to over-beat flour and end up with a tough product.
IMHO stand mixers are only good for creaming butter.
That said, anything that produces a batter (brownies, cakes, quick breads) is easier to do than somethings that requires creaming butter, like cookies.
If creaming by hand, the only thing I make sure to do is to cut the butter into teeny tiny pieces to make mixing easier.
I don't have one and bake a lot too. I'll answer the opposite of the OP's question: The only times I wish I had a stand mixer are when I'm making bread, marshmallows, or anything involving whipped egg whites. (And one random cake recipe that insisted on mixing for 12 minutes straight.) For anything else, a stand mixer seems like it would be nice, but is certainly not necessary.
On mixing speeds: I rarely use anything but the lowest speed on my hand mixer.
To Bzdhkap: it sounds like you're intimidated by baking. Don't be scared, your cake won't fall because you didn't mix it at just the right speed or didn't use the equipment that the recipe said! What matters most is the quantities, temperature, and order of mixing of the ingredients. For the most part, it doesn't matter if you're using a wooden spoon or a Kitchen-Aid.
I agree that what I would miss about the stand mixer for is what you've said above--whipping, making dough. But, I find it helps for me to multi-task. No matter what I'm making, cookies, cakes, etc. that can easily be done by hand mixer or by hand, I can clean, prep as the mixer does the job. By the time the dough/batter is in the oven, my kitchen is clean. With the stand mixer, I can get the batter made before the oven is done preheating because it's mixing as I'm measuring the next ingredients.
The only time I really like using my mixer is when I make butter cream frosting. Otherwise, i don't mind mixing by hand. When I didn't have a mixer, I just made chocolate ganache for frosting.
Not having a mixer really made me pay attention to what I was doing. When I made dough, i got a feel for the wetness of the batter and how well everything was incorporated. I also make all of my pie crusts by hand, without using a food processor or mixer. I think people should try by hand, before getting to reliant on appliances.
my 2 cents
My daughter got me a stand mixer for Christmas two years ago because I wanted it so bad..then I got it and only use it a couple times a year because I don't have the counter space to leave it out and I'm too lazy to pull it out the box for most things. I've always thought it more convenient to pull out the hand mixer and I've been able to make anything that you can do with a stand mixer. I am, however, going to get a pasta attachment for the KA this year and probably be using it more often.
I had a friend once who did all her mixing with a spoon, no mixer...I envied her in that I didin't have the patience for that kind of thing...
I used to bake a lot and never even got a hand mixer until I was a Ph.D. student. I still use only a spoon for many--perhaps most--things (I do like the extra exercise I get, which I use as an excuse to eat more baked goodies :) Still don't have a stand mixer and frankly, a new Weber grill will be on my list before the KitchenAid.
My dream is to get the KA and then have a shelf installed on an arm so that I can pull out from under the cabinet to counter level. And then just as easily stow it away when done.
I get by just fine though with a Braun Multimixer (hand mixer, small chopper, immersion blender). I love it and will be sad when it dies, as someday, it surely will. I have even brought it away with me to vacation houses.
I use it for whipping cream, creaming butter and sugar, mixing as needed. As someone said above, if I see a recipe that calls for using the mixer for more than 5 minutes, I move on to another recipe. (Though this one, for Maida Heatter's Palm Beach Brownies, haunts me: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/18/AR2006041800851.html)
I think the secret to happiness with a hand mixer is ensuring that your ingredients, in particular, your butter, are at room temperature. This helps your batter to come together with less effort and less fatigue on your part. I'll occasionally cheat and use the microwave to bring items to temp. As long as I don't overdo it in the microwave, it rarely affects the finished product.
Here are two foolproof recipes that are easy to throw together with a hand mixer and both well loved on the Home Cooking board:
Spiced Pumpkin Bread
Silver Palate Banana Bread
(Be sure to use 4 bananas, instead of the 3 called for. And, white whole wheat works well in both of these recipes.)
Why would you need a mixer for the pumpkin bread? Recipes like that, with no creaming and where the ingredients don't need air beaten into them come together in a couple of minutes with a wooden spoon or whisk, no need for power. Cookies and other such recipes with creamed butter are easy with a wooden spoon if the butter is somewhat softened first.
re: Caitlin McGrath
They don't require a hand mixer, but if you have one, they make them that much quicker Caitlin. For the banana bread, if I've got the small chopper out to mash the bananas (my preference), I'll probably go ahead, switch out the attachments and convert to the hand mixer.
If a silicone spatula will suffice for a particular recipe, I might go that way. It's not a hard and fast rule that I use a hand mixer. Certainly in the days before I had a dishwasher, I was more likely to stir by hand.
I've made that pumpkin bread recipe, and many other like it, and I really would never personally bother with a hand mixer for something made with oil or melted butter because in the it takes to get it out, pop the beaters in, and plug it in, I can have the ingredients combined with a whisk, so for me it's not necessarily quicker.
It's a matter of preference, clearly, but while I don't know if the OP is still reading three years later, I just meant to emphasize (as some have already) that not only do you not need a stand mixer to bake, you don't even necessarily need a hand mixer, especially for quick breads that use liquid fats. In fact, for most of those, it may be preferable to mix in the dry ingredients by hand to avoid overmixing.
re: Caitlin McGrath
I prefer the texture of butter cookies that are creamed by hand. I guess less air gets into them. Because of this I always just let the butter get to room temp and then mix the dough completely by hand. Works better, I think, than a mixer. Of course the mixer is vastly preferable for some things, such as cakes and merigue.
you can easily make apple pie or if you want a little less work, Apple Crisp!
5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, chopped small
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
For the Filling:
Mix all the ingredients together. Place into 7 to 8-ounce ramekins.
Mix the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in large bowl. Blend the butter into the mixture until it forms pea size lumps. Stir in pecans and sprinkle over filling.
Bake crisps for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.
you dont need any kind of mixer and its delicious.
I don't have a stand mixer and I bake a lot!!!! Having a stand mixer means that a). it continues to mix while you 'slowly add ingredients' and b). that you can work in other parts of the kitchen while it's mixing. In other words, it's a REALLY GOOD multitasking tool. Without it, I just stop the mixing, add the next egg, start the mixer, mix, stop the mixer, add the next egg. . . In other words, I agree with KatieNell, LauraB et al that you can get by just fine. Thanks Valerie for the recipe. Looks good!
I agree with the quick bread suggestions. Banana, zucchini, pumpkin, cornbread all fall into this category. I just use a whisk or wooden spoon and my arm for these. Muffins are also subject to hand blending.
I only had a hand mixer for years and would only use it for things like frosting or meringue where my arm would fall off it I tried to hand blend.
Now that I have a kitchenaid I have gotten lazy, but still don't use it for some items.
I don't own a stand mixer or a hand mixer, and I've never had any problem making cakes, cookies, brownies, quick breads, etc. Some things you have to mix/beat/stir some more by hand, but I don't generally find it a problem.
Actually, to tell the truth I don't have measuring spoons, either, and when I was growing up, my mother didn't have measuring cups ("What?! A cup is a cup!"). For some reason I have things like waffle irons and madeleine pans, though...
I do have a stand mixer but there are somethings like muffins that are better combined by hand to avoid over mixing. I made Dorie Greenspan's Citrus Berry Muffims (p.3) from Baking From My Home to Yours Sunday they were moist, fluffy and delicious. Just needed a whisk and a lg. rubber scraper.
I also do a lot of baking and do not have a stand mixer. In general, I find that you can make pretty much anything with a hand mixer - although if the recipe says to beat for more than 5 minutes straight I generally try to find a different one since I get tired of holding the hand mixer for longer than that. I follow the speeds indicated in the recipe and do not worry if it says to use a paddle or whisk attachment. The only big advice I would have for using a hand mixer is to move the mixer around the bowl while mixing and to stop and scrape the sides of the bowl a few times.
re: Katie Nell
I have been a food writer for over 20 years and only got a stand mixer about 5 years ago. Of course I feel like an idiot for not getting one sooner, but I really don't think not having one stopped me baking anything I wanted to bake. As Katie Nell says, some things are just easier with one - but anything is possible.
I bake often and don't have a stand mixer. Generally, for creaming the sugar and butter, I use a medium speed, then for adding the eggs, I'll use slow, as well as adding the flour. Sometimes when adding the flour (for quick breads, muffins, some cakes, mostly), I use a spatula and gently fold it into the sugar/egg/butter mixture. For brownies and Cooks Illustrated thick and chewy chocolate chip cookies, I just use a wooden spoon since you're using melted butter.
I make bread, pasta without a stand mixer and do it by hand. It's on my list of things to buy but I don't let it stop me. It's just a little more time consuming.
LOL, fast forward a few years and I love my stand mixer. People kept telling me that it'll change what I do and I finally broke down and bought one. It makes making cakes, cookies, etc. much easier/faster (great for multitasking) but for making bread, it's become a no brainer. Added to that, I tore my rotator cuff recently and can't knead so I use it all the time now.
Hahaha, I'm sure it does - and I definitely drool over friends' spiffy KitchenAids. But my tiny kitchen is already overstocked...my extra stock pot, fondue pot, bread machine and wok had to find a home on a shelf in the guest room.
So the stand mixer will have to wait until I have a little more space. :)
Speaking of space I do have a lot of room in my cellar but have never been interested in stocking items that I dont use often. I have a hand mixer from GE that is 40 years old and still working. Bought a KA food processor that was heavy and it lasted two years and it took a lot of space. Replaced the food processor with a cheaper one from Walmart which works fine.
You do not need a stand mixer to make brownies. The recipe on the box of Baker's unsweetened chocolate is easy. It's a one-bowl method that calls for mixing with a spoon.
My favorite brownie recipe is Maida Heatter's "All American Brownies." It uses one pot and a spoon to mix the ingredients.
1 stick of sweet butter, cut into pieces
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs - large or extra-large
1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup walnuts, broken into pieces (optional)
Adjust oven rack 1/3 up from oven bottom, then pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Prepare an 8" square cake pan by lining the inside with a piece of foil. Then, with a pastry brush, brush melted butter on the bottom and sides of the foil.
Place the stick of butter and the chocolate in a heavy saucepan over *very* low heat. Stir occasionally until the mixture is completely melted and smooth. Set aside to cool for about 3 minutes.
Stir in sugar and vanilla.
Add eggs one at a time, stirring until smooth after each is added.
Add flour and salt, mixing until smooth.
If using walnuts, mix them in.
Pour batter into pan and smooth out.
Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the cake's center comes out barely clean but not dry. Do not overbake!
After pan is removed from oven, allow it to stand until it reaches room temperature. Then, place a rack on top, invert the pan, lift it off and remove the foil. Then, using another rack, flip the cake right-side up.
Place cake on a cutting board and with a sharp knife, cut the cake into 16 squares. It may make it easier to chill the cake before cutting.
Wrap brownies individually or place them all on a plate and cover with plastic wrap. In either case, you don't want to let them dry out. They can be frozen and then served either directly from the freezer or defrosted to room temperature.
(Note: I've written the recipe in my own words in order to avoid copyright infringement.)
Certainly you are not a pest -- that's what the board is for!
As Chowser said below, I use medium for creaming the butter and sugar, and then slow it down for the eggs and especially for the flour. If the speed is too fast when you add the flour, it often flies out of the bowl and makes a big mess. That's why it's also good to add a little of the flour mixture at a time rather than all at once.
My mixer has 7 speeds and I guess I don't really go over 4.
Really, the above recipe is very easy and if you decide to make it, you will quickly figure out what works for you.
Not sure if this is what you are looking for, but this Sour Cream Coffee Cake is very easy and delicious. It's always a hit when I make it. I use a hand mixer. Don't exactly know what speed I use, but probably something in the "medium" range. It's really very easy to make this.
Sour Cream Coffee Cake
¼ Cup Butter (unsalted)
1 Cup Sugar
½ pint Sour Cream (1 cup) – you can use low-fat if desired
1 Tsp. Vanilla
¼ Tsp. Salt
2 Cups Flour
1 Tsp. Baking Powder
1 Tsp. Baking Soda
¾ Cup Chopped Walnuts
2 Tsp. Cinnamon
¼ Cup Sugar
¾ Cup Chocolate Chips (semi-sweet)
Preheat over to 350.
Cream butter. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg. Add vanilla.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add alternately with the sour cream blending well.
Pour half the batter into a well-greased baking pan (9 inch square, round or even a bundt pan).
Combine filling ingredients. Sprinkle half of mixture over batter in pan. Top with remaining batter and then sprinkle with remaining filling mixture. Slightly press chocolate chips and nuts down so that they stay on the cake when it is baked.
Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Test with a toothpick – it might need a little more time in the oven (like 10 or 15 minutes).