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Food Mixers

Asked by amyden. Answered on 27th October 2011

Full question

I was wondering as I am getting a food mixer for my 21st birthday, which is the best one to get? I know kenwood do some very good ones! However, i'm not so keen on the £400 price tag! Any suggestions? Thank you, Amy

Food processor v. KitchenAid - I have a Kenwood food processor which I just love, but I'm also rather enamoured with Nigella's KitchenAid. However, I've looked up the prices online and I just can't justify the expense to my husband, sadly. I was wondering - what tasks do you use a KitchenAid for that you can't use a food processor for? Are the two machines interchangeable? What is a food processor categorically not suitable for? Many thanks in advance! Alice x

Our answer

Food mixers and processors do work in slightly different ways. A food processor is a whirling knife blade which cuts all of the ingredients together whilst a mixer beats or whisks so incorporates more air into a mixture. Both can be used for all-in-one type cake mixtures and some sponge cake mixtures but if there are chocolate chips or other add-ins at the end of the recipe you need to be careful about using a food processor as it can chop up the chips.

A food processor is better for making pastry as it will cut the butter into the flour efficiently whilst a mixer is better for making meringues (an sponges leavened with egg white) as it can whip air into the egg whites more easily and adding the sugar is easier in an open bowl (some food processors come with a whisk attachment but the size of the food processor bowl can constrain the meringue).

So when making a decision on equipment it may be best to think about what type of cooking you do most frequently and which piece of equipment would be most useful in your kitchen. Nigella likes to use a free standing mixer as she bakes a lot (though does use a food processor for some cakes), and they leave her hands free to do another task while the mixer is doing its job. The free standing mixers also tend to have quite powerful motors so can get tasks done quickly. However all of Nigella's recipes can be made using a hand mixer and there are plenty of competitively priced hand mixers available. And some recipes can be done with a bowl, wooden spoon and a bit of elbow grease.

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