Kitchen equipment can be confusing at times, so to help you out we have pulled together some of the more frequent befuddlements and queries that have been raised by some of our lovely customers regarding the different uses of Food Processors and Stand Mixers.
If I can I make cakes in a food processor, do I need a mixer?
There is a certain amount of crossover between food processors and mixers when it comes to cakes. A processor does a good job of making most types of cake batters from light sponges to heavier mixes. Because processors mix very quickly you must be careful not to over-mix the batter and spoil it. If you’re making a fruit cake you will need to stir the fruit into the cake mixture by hand, otherwise the processor blade will chop it to pieces.
Mixers run at lower speeds which give you much more control over the consistency of your cake mixture. With their powerful motors and strong construction, they excel at mixing heavy cake mixtures and dough. The mixer will happily stir fruit or nuts into the cake mix without damaging the ingredients.
Which machine is better for making bread?
This is mixer territory, and makes use of the large mixing bowl to prepare a big ball of dough. The mixer comes with a special dough hook for this very purpose. Use the hook to combine the ingredients and form a ball of dough. Using the power of the mixer at a low speed, the dough hook will then go to work kneading the dough. This will stretch the gluten to make the bread rise. The stainless steel bowl can be taken off the mixer and is the ideal container in which to leave the dough to rise. Cover it with a cloth and put it somewhere warm. When the dough has risen, use the mixer to knock it back, unless you feel the urge to slam it onto the counter by hand.
Food processors will form a ball of dough very quickly but they won’t knead it. You have to do the kneading yourself by hand. If you leave a ball of dough rumbling around in a processor for a long time, the machine may well overheat and cut out; they take hours to cool down and start working again.
I have a big family to cook for; do I need a mixer or a processor?
A food processor will certainly help you to save time in the kitchen. Chopping vegetables becomes the work of seconds in a processor. They’re also great for preparing pungent foods like garlic, onions and chillies without tears. A processor will make light work of preparing sauces, soups and dips. It can blitz bread into breadcrumbs or prepare meat for burgers in seconds. Remember that the mini bowls supplied with many processors mean that you can do small things without generating a mountain of washing up. When the creative mood takes you, the processor will be there to help you prepare a fantastic cake for the family and make the butter cream icing to go on top too!
OK, but I’m really adventurous in the kitchen, what else can a mixer do?
It sounds like you would really benefit from all of the attachments that are available for a mixer. Mincers are the most popular so you can grind meat down for burgers, pate or terrines. If you fancy having a go at making your own sausages then there are nozzles that allow you to do this with your mincer attachment.
Fresh pasta always tastes great; the mixer makes pasta dough quickly and easily. There are pasta roller attachments so that you can roll the pasta dough into sheets for ravioli, cannelloni, lasagne or tortellini. You could get an extruder to make penne or fusilli and there are cutting rollers for spaghetti and tagliatelli. Use the power of your machine to churn homemade ice cream with an ice cream freezing bowl. Put the bowl in the freezer for twelve hours to chill, attach it to your mixer and churn until the bowl has set your mixture into smooth ice cream.
For the genuinely dedicated, you can even get a grain mill so you can mill your own flour! And for nights when you need comfort food, the standard cake mixing paddle makes fantastic mashed potatoes.
I have a small kitchen; I need something to blitz things up, should I have a processor or a blender?
If you just want something to blitz and liquidise food then a blender would be a great solution. They don’t take up much space and have enough capacity to feed a small family. Food processors come in a variety of sizes; a small one will have slightly larger capacity than a blender and will have more uses. You will still need to find space to store the tool box with all of the attachments.