August 2, 2017

As students make their way through a Colorado culinary arts curriculum, they learn to make the best use of essential kitchen tools. For anyone interested in the baking and pastry arts, a key question is when it’s best to use a hand or stand mixer and when you’re better off relying on old-fashioned elbow grease. Depending on what you’re making and your personal style, each method can have major advantages.

Follow these tips to ensure you make the right call the next time you’re combining ingredients:

When it’s time to make a stand

Stand mixers are powerful, versatile tools. Using the provided bowl and attachments like a paddle, whisk and hook, you can prepare everything from the dough for brioche to a bowl full of mayonnaise. The stand mixer will also get the work done much faster than your other options.

One of the greatest advantages of the stand mixer is that it allows you to multitask more efficiently. While the machine brings ingredients together, you can focus on the next phase of preparation. Many also have handy features like a timer or automatic stop.

When to take mixing into your own hands

A hand mixer is often preferable to a stand mixer when it comes to lighter-duty tasks. As The Spruce explained, it’s ideal for simple, speedy jobs like preparing pancake batter, whipping cream or beating eggs. Plus, it’s easy to use a compact hand mixer in bowls of all different sizes, instead of using the one provided with a stand mixer.

There are other practical advantages to these smaller tools. They are less expensive than stand mixers and require less cleanup. However, when you’re working with a thick batter or dough, a hand model likely will not have the necessary power to achieve the best results.

When to let your muscles do the work

Electric mixers, food processors and blenders bring huge advantages for preparing food, especially when you need to make large quantities or work fast. However, skipping the gadgets and whisking or folding ingredients by hand can give you greater precision and control. Wooden spoons are heat resistant and simple to use, while rubber spatulas are great for baking applications and whisking by hand is perfect when ingredients must be lightly beaten.

In addition, while electric mixers or food processors are often the more efficient choice, many chefs and bakers simply find old-school preparation methods more satisfying. For preparing dough, many bakers swear by digging in with your hands instead of using the stand mixer. As Serious Eats warned, this process can get very messy when you go from using a spatula to combine flour and water to digging in with your hand. That way, you’ll avoid leaving any dry spots as you form the dough.

Mixing ingredients properly is one of the most important parts of preparing fantastic food. With the right method, culinary academy students can get this task done more efficiently.