Hello, I've been a baker of cakes for many years and have adored many of Nigella's recipes. For a long time I have wanted a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, but the husband always said it was too much money. A few months ago I was presented with a beautiful shiny Kitchen Aid and I was overjoyed! My dilemma now is that I can't follow recipes properly anymore, as I don't know which attachment to use at which point! For years I have made victoria sandwiches with a hand mixing machine and now, given the vast amount of money spent on the new mixer, I'm producing cakes that are far less superior! Help! Many thanks, Victoria
Free standing mixers are quite powerful and have the advantage of leaving both hands free while the machine is mixing. Most stand mixers come with 3 attachments. The dough hook is used for kneading bread doughs. When using this it is best to use a low speed and check the dough regularly as kneading will be a lot quicker by machine. The balloon whisk attachment is usually used for aereating so is for whisking egg whites and cream.
The flat (or paddle) beater is usually used for maing cakes, cookes and pastry dough and is used for creaming butter and sugar together. However we would mention that the regular bowl on a stand mixer is usually quite large and it can be difficult to cream smaller quantities of butter and sugar easily. You will need to scrape down the bowl regularly with a spatula to make sure that the butter and sugar mix thoroughly and beat until it is paler in colour and looks like it has a slightly fluffy texture. However some people like to use the whisk for creaming butter and sugar then switch to the flat beater for the rest of the cake so you may like to experiment to see which works best for you. We find that it can help to give the cake batter a final stir with a spatula or wooden spoon to make sure that all of the ingredients on the base and sides of the bowl have been incorporated, particularly for batters that are quite liquid. Smaller bowls can be bought and may be worth considering if you regularly make smaller cakes. Kitchen Aid also have some video tutorials on how to use their stand mixer and these are available on-line.