/ Food & Drink

Crumbs! Home baking is big business

Red food processor with apples

Home baking has become popular recently, partly thanks to the TV show The Great British Bake Off. Are you a keen baker and home chef? Or do you prefer to marvel at others from the comfort of your sofa?

I’ve always been a keen cook and enjoy spending time baking. Some people would say I’m mad, but cooking up a delicious main meal or baking a tasty pudding for my friends to enjoy is a treat (pun intended!).

But I still don’t do as much as I would like, mainly because I don’t have the right ‘tools of the trade’. The majority of my baking and cooking is done by hand: the traditional mix of elbow grease and sweat (NB: these are not ingredients that should actually be added to your recipe)! It’s sometimes back-breaking work and certainly enough to discourage me from the kitchen.

So why, you may ask, have I not bought a kitchen gadget? The reasons are twofold: not knowing what type I should buy and the dreaded price.

The best mix of gadgets

If you like to both cook and bake, exactly what kitchen gadget you should buy is a little confusing. Should you get a hand mixer, stand mixer, food processor, mini chopper or hand blender? Where baking is concerned, hand mixers and stand mixers are the better choice. They can mix, whip and even knead dough as you’ll see in this video:

Some food processors can do the same if you have the right attachments, but our tests have found they don’t do as well. They can grate and chop hard food though, so they are a better all-round appliance. If you love to bake, but need something to occasionally chop hard food, a mini chopper or hand blender is a great extra gadget.

Adding the add-ons

Once you have found the right machine, you can choose the attachments you need. Dough hooks, whisks, potato mashers, graters, chopping blades; the list goes on. To some extent your choice of machine will determine this – you can’t get a dough hook on a food processor, for example.

But are there attachments you have bought that have never been used? Are there certain added extras you wish you had to make life easier?

Finally there is the question of price. Stand mixers, for example, can range from £100 to an eye-watering £800, although we’ve found a Best Buy mixer for £125. How much are you willing to spend on a kitchen gadget to make your life easier?

My favourite thing to bake is carrot cake; moist and comforting with a helping of creamy, naughty icing. I use the Good Food Channel’s recipe and, although it may seem a lot when you make it, the secret to its moistness is the corn oil. Give it a go!

Have you got any baking tips to share? What baking or cooking gadgets do you own or are there any appliances you’d love to own?


Aldi have some very good pre-packaged bread mixes* at 89p either bagged as Aldi or Wrights and my wife is very impressed compared to her fully home-made loaves. For them leave it longer to rise than they say and remember always to throw some ice cubes into the oven when commencing the bake.
This delays the hard crust and permits more rise.

*Mixed Grain, White, Ciabatta, Focaccio

Kenwood Mixer takes most of the strain and then hand finish. The Lakeland Bread tins she recommends highly. We do have and have used considerably a bread machine but that has been out of favour this last year or more as the need to rush the process is gone – and the loaf is not as good.

Gerard Phelan says:
24 January 2013

I am a man and find the surest way of getting good baking is for someone else to do it. However I can recommend the pastry guides that I use when rolling pastry. The guides are pairs of wooden strips that come in different marked thickness’s. So when I am rolling pastry, I place a guide at either side of the work and ensure the rolling pin runs up and down on the guides. Thus the pastry is always exactly the correct thickness and never goes thin at the edges. They were only a few pounds from Lakeland some years ago.

Verynice2 says:
24 January 2013

We enjoy reading about kitchen gadgets and baking there’s so much out there to find out about. Our top tip would be when flouring a cake tin for chocolate cake use cocoa instead of flour!



Thank you for your comments and brilliant tips. It’s given me a surge to want to rush home and try them all out.

I’ve never heard to using ice cubes during the cooking process in any way, very interesting idea. Genius tips with regards to coca instead of flour (yummy too) and using tools to get pastry the right thickness.

So if there was a totally new and innovative baking gadget on the market that you knew you make your cooking life even easier, how much would you be prepared to spend on it?



If you have a Kenwood Chef, perhaps the best accessory is the least obvious one – a spare bowl. I use two or three bowls to make bread, kneeding about 1kg (2lb) of dough in each. There is less risk of overheating the motor and, with more space, the dough can be left in the bowls to prove without escaping over the sides.


That makes sense, though it might be costly. Every cook kneads a science degree or two. 🙂


The plastic bowls are about £20, the stainless £50. But old bowls can be found at boot sales, Chef graveyards, etc. I need to use a dictionary.


My wife uses our Pyrex bowls if she were requiring extra bowls for rising. She tells me the Aldi white mix is 59p. It requires only short rising and kneading and one long which is done in the pan. She does make a slightly watery dough and cooks slightly longer than the instructions. : ) Shows skill still involved.


Have you ever reviewed a Thermomix? It is a brilliant kitchen machine, which does almost anything. Quite expensive but extremely good. See http://thermomix.vorwerk.co.uk/