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Is it possible to have a functional cook/baker without a stand mixer?

Okay, here is the scenario, I am a new cook and also dabbling into baking. This new venture is due to me wanting to eat better, plus a whole lot of time on my hands, and not being so dependent on going out to eat when I want "....". So, I have a hand mixer currently and a mini food processor. I can get the Cuisinart 14-cup Elite Food Processor at an awesome price. That said, if I make this purchase, the idea of buying a stand mixer is out of sight (and out of mind and money) until way into 2010. However, I still want to be able to make doughs, pastas, desserts (think of this on a limited scale as I cook for one nearly 80% of the time). Do I miss out on baking/pastry functions with relying on a food processor and hand mixer?

I feel like I could get a little more versatility with the FP as it has a dough function and will still do all of the basic food processing functions. What are your takes, which would you pick first?

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  1. Absolutely. The only thing my stand mixer does that my hand mixer didn't is pasta dough now that I've mostly switched t no-knead bread.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Coconuts

      I've always found that pasta dough is easiest in the food processor. You get a nice ball of dough in seconds.

      1. re: ferret

        Thanks for the insight here. I actually watched a few demo videos on processing dough in a food processor. Glad to hear your experiences were good too.

        After I made this post I viewed the FP's manual and noticed it had many recipes I would have thought required a mixer but could be prepared by a FP. I think I feel a lot better going forward with this purchase and not so dependent upon having to have a stand mixer, especially when I already have a hand mixer.

        1. re: cityhopper

          One thing a stand mixer excels at is meringue. You can do it with a hand mixer but it's never quite the same.

        2. re: ferret

          The mixer was expensive and takes up a lot of space- I have to use it for something! :-)

          1. re: Coconuts

            LOL, Coconuts. I stick by my posts to cityhopper, that you can cook and bake without these things, but it is nice now to have a standmixer when holiday-baking time rolls around!

      2. <<Do I miss out on baking/pastry functions with relying on a food processor and hand mixer?>>

        Not at all, cityhopper. I existed for many years with a not very good handmixer, no food processor, and no stand-mixer. You can accomplish a lot with good quality whisks, forks, wooden spoons, knives to cut in fats to flour for pastry, rolling pins (great for crushing crumbs in a baggie, btw), and clean hands. It just takes more elbow grease, that's all. Think of it this way...for how many generations before electricity did the French and Italians make beautiful breads and pastries? ;-)

        It is great to have the modern conveniences, though, since they're available to us. Now I have the stand-mixer, an *excellent* combination hand-mixer/stick-blender, and a mini-FP that I never use. So make your plans to acquire the equipment you want over time, as you can, in the order you want them, and don't let the fact that your kitchen is a work-in-progress stop you. It didn't stop our ancestors. :-)

        2 Replies
        1. re: Normandie

          Thanks for all of the contribution.

          Normandie, you are right about considering how the French and Italians excelled in baking and pastries without the convenience (if you consider them as such) of Kitchen Aid, Cusiniart and other kitchen electric makers. I actually LOL when I read and thought/said, "Duhhh, cityhopper".

          Considering this outlook, it may not really be a need for a stand mixer because I have a good hand mixer. I can certainly afford the energy of moving my arm around and rotating the mixing bowl; I can consider it calories burned while I prepare my treats :-D.

          The CHOWHOUND community is the best!!!!

          1. re: cityhopper

            ;-)

            I think I love my most simple tools the best, cityhopper. As an extra little benefit, they're often easier on the chef when it comes to clean-up. But I've made sure to buy good quality implements. Ergo, my balloon whisk is heavy enough to...balloon-whisk, but it also makes some great smashed potatoes and compound butters. ;-)

            Beware Madison Avenue in cooking, as in all other things. You will want some of these jet-age and post-jet-age machines at some point, and there's no reason not to treat yourself when the time comes and you've saved up your pennies. They certainly can save time, when used for the appropriate dishes. But aside from the workout you get doing things the old-fashioned way, as you mentioned, I have this theory that the closer you get to your food, and the more of yourself you put into it when you're learning to cook, the better you get to understand the all-essential technique. I could be right about that, or I could be wrong, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it. :-D

        2. I baked for years without even a handmixer. After much research, I bought a handmixer (that I still have and love). I still don't own a stand mixer. And I've baked much. Happy baking and don't worry. Normandie's post says it all (almost) perfectly--after all, the Austrians and Germans (cake/torte/pastry royalty that they are) didn't have stand mixers until recently, much like the French and Italians!

          1 Reply
          1. re: nofunlatte

            Oh, yes, and if anybody makes better tortes than the Austrians, I haven't encountered that anybody yet. And they even got nuts small and fine enough to use as their flour without electricity. That's an excellent example. And there are a few things, too, I never want to take an electric mixer to, such as muffin batters.

          2. My great aunt who made the best bread I've ever had in life 3 times every week and all the other baked goods her family had never owned an electric appliance. My husband's Italian grandmother made all her pasta with her hands.

            I had a hand mixer but I didn't get a stand mixer until I was 30+. Now I've still got that same fabulous KA stand mixer 30 years and a lot of doughs and batters later but I'm older and it's still just as heavy and I mostly use my hand mixer again. The moral is that a great stand mixer will be a wonderful tool when it's the right time for you to get one but it's not essential and YOU are the quality that your baked stuff will make you proud about.

            1. I bake ( and cook) constantly without a stand mixer and I haven't felt the need yet. I do have a pasta maker, hand mixer and immersion blender and I would not do without those but otherwise I say you do not need one