I've been decorating cakes in the grocery stores for a while now, and I've come to the realization that cakes and sweets are my real passion. I never really did much at home until recently (notice that I'm a newbie here ). Since my hubby bought me some new *quality* cake pans a couple weeks ago, I have been on an all-out baking spree. I've been browsing bunches of recipes online and have tried a few so far, but I'm running into one BIG problem...
I only have a cheap little hand mixer. I'm surprised I haven't broken it yet, but there have been times where I thought it was going to. I can't make the thick practice/decorating buttercream that I want; just about ANY icing is incredibly difficult to make... My husband watched in awe (and in anticipation of sending a powdered sugar cloud into the kitchen) as I held the mixer in one hand, rubber spatula/scraper in the other hand, and had each item angled in such a way that it would hold my light plastic mixing bowl in place against my torso...
My problem is this:
How can I make icing using only a cheap hand mixer? I don't have the money to invest in a stand mixer, and it will be a few months at the earliest before I can afford one. Is there a way that I can use the mixer to get the icing started and then knead/stir it by hand? What kind of tools/utensils would be best to use?
Any help you can provide is GREATLY appreciated!!
Do you have a heavy bowl that you don't have to hold down? The only solution may be to do smaller batches.
i use to be the same way. it takes more time but it works better if you half the recipe and add your dry ingredients slowly. After i went through 4 cheap hand held mixer i gave in and bought a kitchen aid. my hubby actually had to convince me to buy it all the way up to the check out counter (the cost was hard for me) . Now i use it all the time and am very happy with this investment. it makes things soo much easier to make. especially when you have to mix somehting for a length of time you can let it go and work on something else love it!!
Thanks for the advice
Unfortunately I don't have a heavier mixing bowl (yet, at least)... I tried doing a small batch of icing a few days ago, but found that my cheap mixer just splatters half of it on the sides of the bowl and leaves a very small glob that I chase around the bottom of the bowl.. Because I have to work so hard on keeping the bowl still I can't seem to turn the bowl and scrape it off the sides quicker than it can splatter it. What I end up doing is mixing for 30 seconds, turn the mixer off and set it aside, scrape the bowl and add more sugar, turn the mixer back on till it's all splattered around the bowl again, and repeat, repeat, repeat...
The only other question I have is: do the interruptions in mixing affect the icing itself? When a recipe says "mix for 10-12 minutes" does that mean constant for 10-12 minutes or that it should take about 10-12 minutes for it to be well mixed? >_<
Thanks again for the help
I gotta tell you, I have the sunbeam stand mixer... it was like $50 from walmart and it works beautifully. I used to use it for all my cake mix's and to make my own marshmallow fondant. However lately it just seems easier to use my hand mixer for my mix's and I do my marshmallow fondant by hand. As for buttercream I buy mine pre-made. If you really need a stand mixer for your buttercream I recommend the Sunbeam Heritage Classic mixer. LIke this one... http://www.walmart.com/ip/Sunbeam-Heritage-Series-Silver-4.6-Qt.-Mixmaster-Stand-Mixer-2354/4016490 but i got mine for about half that price...
While I think having a kitchen aid mixier is a MUST, my very first mixer for my cakes (back in the early 80s!) was a JCPenny brand stand mixer that was WAY cheaper than a KA. It makes a big difference!
Start now putting out the word that you'd LUV for your family (husband, mom, sis, etc) to pool their funds and get you a KA for christmas.
A woodworker needs a good hammer and saw. A baker needs a good mixer and oven. You can't do the job without the right tools.
I'm a huge fan of KA hand mixers. I have the 9 speed Pro one, that I paid I think $80 for. It comes with dough hooks, so that tells you what it can handle. I love it.
I do also have two stand mixers that I wouldn't trade anything for, but I love the hand mixer as well, especially for that little batch of icing.
And I did have a 5 speed KA for almost 10 years, that I made buttercream and royal icing with and didn't have any problems. The only suggestion is when making stiff buttercream to keep it to smaller batches. But then unless you are making 500 roses, you probably don't need much more than a small batch of stiff buttercream at any given time.
I have the 6 quart Kitchen Aid Pro stand mixer but still love using the KA hand mixer whenever possible. I've made a batch of 150 cupcakes at one time as well as many batches of buttercream using the hand mixer and a giant old metal mixing bowl of my mom's. I find it so much easier to just set the hand mixer down and scrap the side of the bowl than trying to get my hand in and around the paddle in the stand mixer.
When doing buttercream, I mix the butter and flavouring first then make sure to add the powdered sugar no more than a cup at a time, mixing on the lowest speed until it's all combined. Sometimes a bit of powdered sugar makes it's way out of the bowl, but that happens with my stand mixer too.
I made all my cakes & icing with a hand mixer for 30 years before getting my KA this past summer. I still use my little hand mixer for all sorts of things, including making small batches of royal icing, single batches of cake, or just enough icing for dessert-sized cakes. My grandmother used her Sunbeam stand mixer just about everyday for decades!
Until you get a stand mixer, it really helps to have a heavy bowl that's not too wide. You can find these at garage sales all the time. My favorite mixing bowl is something I bought from a church sale--it's not pretty, but it's nice to have a bowl that doesn't "travel" while I'm trying to use it!
Check second-hand stores for a second mixer. It's very unlikely you'll find a stand mixer, much less a Kitchen Aid; but you can probably find one that is more heavy duty than what you have now. Secondly, try placing a damp towel or washcloth under your bowl and see if it hold still for you. Personally, I would never try to scrape while the mixer is running, but I'm clumsy.
In my younger days, I too only had a hand mixer, I burnt the motor up in that one and since I was sure I couldn't afford a stand mixer, a kept buying new hand ones. By the time my husband got me a stand mixer (KA) I had already nickled and dimed myself past the price of the KA. That KA lasted over 20 years with zero problems.
I had that one repaired for a back up, and purchased a new one.
While you may have to ride it out a while with a smaller hand mixer, save your pennies and get a KA as soon as you can.
only have a cheap hand mixer as well and so far it has stood my caking =)...havent' done IMBCs and SMBC though...or chiffon...those that need stiff eggwhites since i'm afraid i'll overheat it but so far it's held up...i as still waiting for my KA handmixer but if you cn see my pics...caking with a cheap handheld mixer is doable....
When I fell in love with making cakes I only had a hand mixer too. It can make great icing but It took a long time to mix stuff up cause i had to put the ingredients in a little at a time, and boy does it give your arms a workout when your doing a lot of batches! I got a large tall stainless steel mixing bowl and that helped a little to keep the bowl in place, I'd still have to hold it with one hand though so it didn't spin.
My little hand mixer would always kind of groan when I did buttercream or royal icing. The little hand mixer can make great icing but I had to stick to single or half batches or I would burn out the motor. I burned up four little hand mixers before I'd saved enough for a good stand mixer because I kept trying to do more than one batch. I bought a Bosch Mixer and I'm so happy with it! It really makes mixing so much faster and easier!
Hand mixers are fine for a while but its totally worth it to save up for a good mixer. Scout the garage sales and local classifieds, sometimes you can find really good deals there on great stand mixers
I haven't burnt mine up yet, but I know I'm close to it.. The last batch of icing I did had it struggling. I'd turn it off, let it cool, and turn it back on again. Speaking of a "groan" (lol) when it struggles, I'd say mine was screaming... When it would hit a thick part the motor would get reeallly high pitched and squeal at me. The squeals come past the point where I can hear the motor slowing and struggling...
I've taken a break from decorating at home until I have the money to buy a slightly better hand mixer (to save the cheaper one for regular cooking) and a nice set of mixing bowls. The only bowls I have are plastic and I think that is a lot of my problem.
I got a job a couple weeks ago decorating cakes again, and it's nice to do it for a living AND not have to make all my icing I'll be moving up in the cake world once I get a few paychecks under my belt!
I had a hand mixer and my second batch of bc killed it. A few weeks after it died my motherinlaw and two sisterinlaws got together and bought me a kitchen aid stand mixer. They said sence im the cake maker of the family they had to buy me a mixer so they can keep getting cakes, lol. I have made a plenty of bc in that thing, its great.
When I first started, and had no money, and I was doing wedding cakes for free (for good friends) just for the practice....I used a $10 Walmart mixer that I'd recieved as a wedding present. That thing lived through 3 YEARS of caking. It was incredible. It finally died on a batch of buttercream in the middle of a cake. Then I went out and bought a $20 hand mixer. I was SO cheap back then. I'm just sharing this to say it CAN be done (using a little hand mixer for big jobs) it's just a PITB. A decade later, I could finally afford the 7 qt stand mixer that cost more than my oven...and I love it, but I don't regret using the hand mixer- it made me tougher
So far I've killed one hand mixer (I think it was one of the really cheap ones from Walmart) while making buttercream. It was a fairly new one since it was my boyfriends and he doesn't bake. Luckily I had kept my old one that my mom gave me when I moved out like 8 or 9 years ago. It still works but I think it's getting to its limit. There's actually a little plastic piece inside it that I can see and hear bobbing around. Pretty sure it's not supposed to be like that lol. I really want a stand mixer but can't afford one yet and I don't want to waste my money buying a cheap version that's not going to last. I figure I might get one as a wedding present eventually if I don't break down and buy one but since we're not engaged yet that could be a while lol. What drives me nuts is that I know my great aunt who is in her 80s has an old Kitchenaid sitting in her kitchen that I'm sure hasn't been used in years (possibly a decade or more) but I know she won't part with it because she's a bit of a hoarder. Heck, she may have more than one in her storage room.....So I will continue with my old hand mixer until it too kicks the bucket.
There are stores that still have layaway. Walmart, Kmart etc. You could buy a decent mixer this way. In my early days of caking, I used a Sunbeam stand mixer. Not too expensive and it lasted for quite a long time. Thank God that now I can afford to buy KitchenAid so I have 2. Once you get a stand mixer, you will never regret it!
I did some research into cheap stand mixers for use in my commecial kitchen. My husband surprised me with my third KA, but I still found one with great reviews. Rival makes one on Walmart.com for about $44.00 with great reviews. It does not have a dough hook, but I don't make fondant. The new Sunbeam has some problems with thick doughs.
I was one of those too that spent my first years with a cheap hand mixer. I think they must have been stronger and better quality back then (like everything else).
I used a cheapy hand mixer for a little while and it worked fine for scratch cakes and was a little messy for American buttercream. The one thing I did do, was I did use a pretty heavy bowl so I didn't have to hold it. The only thing I can say is that my arm was a little tired in the end
I got a Sunbeam Mixmaster for Christmas (what a nice boyfriend!) and it eased things up immensely!! I made SMBC with it recently and it worked fine. I even periodically checked to see if the motor was heating up and it wasn't.
But I've seen the Mixmaster at Walmart for $68. In the future however, I will eventually get a KA, as the Mixmaster isn't that great at mixing dough or at least I can't seem to get it to do so.