Guest Post: Tip-top picks for baking accessory specialities

Hey readers!!

Sorry, that I have not posted any recipes lately... I have been so busy the past few months with work, changing to a part time job, and then starting full time university. I am hoping now that everything is set up and I am starting to get a routine, that I can return to baking for the blog. In the mean time, please enjoy the guest post below from blogger Tamsin McCahill and I will be back with yummy recipes shortly! :)

Take care,
Mike



Tip-Top Picks For Baking Accessory Specialities

Do you love baking? You’re not alone. With programmes such as the Great British Bake Off becoming a ratings hit and Jubilee-inspired tea parties popping up all over the place, home baking has never been so popular. I too love nothing more than donning a pinny to unleash my inner domestic goddess. I've come to realise that if I really want to get serious about it, there’s only so far a mixing bowl and wooden spoon will take me.

I’m looking to expand my repertoire beyond the odd Victoria sponge and would love to try my hand at cupcakes, macaroons and whoopie pies. And don’t get me started on bread – what better way to start the day than by eating a slice of toast from a loaf you made yourself?

So before I get cracking with a new hobby, I’ve decided I need to treat myself to a mixer. A must for any serious home baker, a mixer can really save your wrists while you’re making a batter and are so efficient at whipping and creaming that it’s almost crazy to try to do anything by hand.

You can of course buy hand-held mixers for under £20. These are quite sufficient for doing ‘light’ jobs like mixing cake batter, whipping cream and beating eggs, but won’t be able to knead bread dough. Hand-held mixers also require your active participation as you obviously need to hold them while you stand over the bowl. A stand-alone mixer, however, will mix your ingredients for you, while you get on with more important matters – like flicking through a magazine while having a cup of coffee.

Sadly, however, all this convenience doesn’t come cheap, and stand mixers are one of the most expensive small appliances you can buy for your kitchen. Artisan mixers (which are large enough to let you whip up huge amounts of batter, powerful enough to knead bread and versatile enough to let you make your own pasta) are the most expensive of all, costing upwards of £250.

This is one purchasing decision you don’t want to get wrong. So what questions should you ask yourself to ensure you don't make an expensive mistake?

Do I actually need a stand mixer? 

I’m a bit worried that my mixer will be joining the ice cream maker and sandwich toaster in the electrical appliance graveyard that is my loft. If this sounds like you, you’ll need to be sure you’ll actually use it before you buy. To help you make that decision, the Reluctant Gourmet blog advises you to ask yourself three questions:  1) Do you want to make bread? 2) Do you bake at least twice a month? 3) Do you do a lot of seasonal baking? If you answer yes to two out of three, a mixer will be a good buy for you.

Do I have enough space for it? 

Some artisan mixers can be a little on the large and bulky side – they also need to be heavy enough so that they don’t go walkabout on your kitchen counters. With this in mind, check that you have enough space for your mixer on your work top. Chances are, if you put it out of sight in a cupboard the thought of lifting it out each time you want to use it will put you off.

If you do decide to buy a stand mixer, one way to help you spread the initial cost could be by credit card, especially if you've got a card that offers a 0% period on purchases. It's important to bear in mind though that if you don’t clear the balance within the introductory period, you will be charged interest.

What features should I look for?

That very much depends on what you want to make. For bread, you’ll need a mixer that has a dough hook, a large bowl and a powerful motor – anything less than 250 watts just won’t be able to cope.

If you wanted to create other foodie treats, look for something versatile, which will have several different accessories and speed options. There are mixers out there that allow you to make your own sausages, ravioli or even ice cream.

Dishwasher-safe attachments can help you cut down on the amount of time you spend cleaning your mixer, and you’ll also want something that has metal gears. These may make a bit more noise than the nylon versions but should mean your mixer will last for years to come.

This is a Sponsored Post by Guest Blogger Tamsin McCahill on behalf of Sainsbury’s Bank.

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