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Nov 23, 2010 05:29 PM

Need a mixer to make one cake. What should I get?

I never bake and by never I mean I don't even own a mixer even though I cook a lot. However, I just got persuaded to make a birthday cake. All the recipes call for a mixer. What should I get considering I probably will rarely use it again? I don't want to get a piece of junk but I also don't want to buy something meant for a professional bakery since I obviously don't need that.

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  1. Since you don't really need (or want) a mixer, why not just borrow one for a day? If you decide to buy, I'd suggest getting a small Cuisinart hand mixer. Reasonable price, good quality, and easy to store. (Also useful for making mashed potatoes.)

    2 Replies
    1. re: tanuki soup

      Mixers certainly make baking easier, but any cake that actually requires a mixer is not something that someone who doesn't bake should be baking. For one basic cake, a wooden spoon and some elbow grease will be just fine. If you actually do want to buy an electric mixer for just this purpose, just pick up the cheapest one you can find -- I've never heard of any mixer giving out after one cake!

      1. re: tanuki soup

        Second the Cusinart hand mixer. 3 speed is about $30. That's what I have for the occasions when a stand mixer doesn't work. Question for the OP, and I swear this is sincere, not more non-responsive snark - if your arm is broken, are you going to be able to hold the mixer with the good arm while steadying the bowl with the broken one so it doesn't go skidding across the counter?

      2. can you borrow one from someone? seems like a waste to buy a piece of equipment you'll only use once and then have to give up valuable storage space to keep around! if not, pick up an inexpensive hand mixer instead of a big stand mixer. i think Costco actually has some decent ones, or there's always Bed Bath & Beyond. if you do go to BB&B, i recommend the KitchenAid 5-Speed Ultra Power Hand Mixer. i think it retails for about $40, but if you use a 20% off coupon it'll run you $32, and it's a pretty good piece of equipment.


        1. You can bake nearly all cakes from boxes without a mixer. I haven't actually read the directions in a while, but they all used to say something like "beat at low speed for thirty seconds, and then at medium high speed for two minutes, or by hand for 1000 times". Heck, I've even done it with a whisk myself, and it just takes elbow grease. I would recommend a whisk, as it incorporates air, which a hand mixer will do, while mixing. Finally, I even have one of those old manual roto types, and remember using those as well. There once was a time, only a few decades ago, that not everyone had a stand mixer or even an electric hand held mixer. If you can't borrow one, choose a basic boxed yellow or chocolate cake from one of the main brands, and use a whisk. It will come out fine, and you will build some muscle. It will only take five to ten minutes.

          9 Replies
          1. re: RGC1982

            Wow. So I post a question asking for recommendations for a mixer and the replies I get are:
            1. Borrow one
            2. You shouldn't make a cake if you never bake
            3. Use your elbow grease
            4. Use a cake mix

            While I appreciate the suggestions, obviously if I wanted to borrow a mixer or use my elbow grease, I would have done that and not posted here asking for recommendations on a mixer. I have a broken arm right now so the elbow grease isn't happening. I didn't think it was necessary to say that.

            As for not being qualified to make a cake from scratch because I normally don't do it, exactly why would that be? I do know how to bake, have made cakes, bread, etc. in the past. I just choose not to.

            Anyway, thanks to the one person who actually answered my question and recommended a cheap but reliable mixer. The suggestion of a Kitchen Aid hand-held mixer from BBB with a coupon is excellent.

            Happy Thanksgiving.

            1. re: taos

              If all you're going to do is make a cake once a year, a 15 buck one will work just fine. Pick one that'll fit where you're goign to keep it when you're not using it.

              1. re: dscheidt

                "If all you're going to do is make a cake once a year, a 15 buck one will work just fine. Pick one that'll fit where you're goign to keep it when you're not using it."

                I would argue that you should buy the $32 KA hand mixer from BBB, in the hope that once you learn how much fun it is to bake a cake, you'll naturally want to make one more than once a year.

                I have two hand mixers. One is a Sunbeam that has lasted 32 years and is still holding up. The other is some cheap POS I bought 3 years ago for just such an emergency as you describe, and it is already self-destructing (one of the beaters no longer will go in the hole).

                1. re: Jay F

                  Thanks also for the advice. The main reason I don't bake is that I don't eat gluten so I couldn't eat the stuff I bake and apparently I'm not generous enough to bake just to give the stuff away. Bah humbug. Is Sunbeam still in business?

                  1. re: taos

                    "Is Sunbeam still in business?"

                    It turns out they are, and if you're up for spending $45, it seems they sell them at Kohl's:

                    Who knows if anything made today will last 30+ years, though?

                    As for the gluten allergy, is it too late to get out of making dessert? Or maybe making creme caramel?

                    1. re: taos

                      Not sure if you live near a Target, or if you're cool with going there during the Black Friday craze, but Target has the Sunbeam convertible stand mixer. I guess it can be used as a hand mixer, too. I don't have it or know anything about it, but I figure if you're willing to buy a mixer for one-time use, how bad can a $25 one be?

                      I make flour less chocolate cakes (or cupcakes) for my gluten-free friends and like my hand mixer for whipping the eggs more than my stand mixer. So, the option of both is kind of cool.

                      It's usually $50, but on November 26th and 27th it's $24.99.


                      1. re: Azizeh

                        Azizeh: "I make flour less chocolate cakes (or cupcakes) for my gluten-free friends and like my hand mixer for whipping the eggs more than my stand mixer."

                        Nothing is better than using my hand mixer to beat egg whites in my copper bowl. Souffles were one of the first things I learned to make, so my copper bowl has long been one of my favorite pieces of cooking equipment. And I wouldn't be able to do it without my hand mixer. They're both 30+ years old, still in perfect condition.

                      2. re: taos

                        I'm actually looking at flat screens and not finding the Black Friday deals that compelling. I don't like crowds or early rising. But, it seems like small electronics are the hot item this year.

                        Both Target and Wal- Mart are advertising $3 hand mixers. Wal-Mart has a KitchenAid stand mixer for $150, if you feel like you'll ever use it again.


                  2. re: taos

                    Happy Thanksgiving to you. Hope you arm is feeling better.

                    Now, you didn't mention a broken arm in your first post. If you want to buy a mixer for ONE cake (and you made that very plain), obviously most of the respondants here felt that might be unnecessary or a little bit wasteful. We took your post literally. I think what you may be seeing here is that most of us who read and post on these boards admit publicly that we own too many unused appliances, and our advice is likely intended to help you to avoid the same trap that many of us have fallen into. It certainly didn't make sense to me that you would actually need to buy a mixer when most people, with two working arms, could use a hand held whisk from your kitchen drawer and easily achieve the same results. I use whisks myself when I don't want to bother with an electic mixer.

                    If you really want to go buy a mixer, head to Walmart or a similar store and buy the least expensive hand held mixer they sell. It will be less expensive than the KA with the BBB coupon. The brand doesn't matter. If you are not planning to use it again, it won't matter which one you pick. Even a $13 mixer will work fine over years of occasional use. I still have one that is nearly thirty years old, and I put it away when I decided to splurge on the KA model ten years ago for no particular reason other than my dislike of its vintage 1970's color. Sorry if our responses were not what you expected, but I can assure you that my co-posters nor I had any intention of doing anything other than offering sincere suggestions, based literally and solely on what we read in your post.

                2. Here's something in this morning's New York Times that is apropos of your question and the replies it garnered:

                  "In these food-mad times, have the economically privileged among us gone too far in turning simple acts of nourishment into complicated rituals of self-congratulation? Must all shortcuts and conveniences be subject to so much epicurean bullying and such internal shame?"

                  Approximately 40 years ago, I purchased a Toastmaster hand mixer for $11 which has served me quite splendidly through thousands of cookies, cakes, and desserts. Get that Kitchenaid and enjoy your cake!

                  1. Go to Lowes or Home Depot buy one, use it, clean it off put back in box and return. The dummies there will never know... :)

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: KingoftheCastle

                      They know, they just don't challenge you and the rest of us pay the price.

                      1. re: KingoftheCastle

                        Re comment about returning, I bought a toaster from Lowe's once and it had crumbs in the tray.