Cupcakes, pancakes, pies and even soup, it seems like whatever you want to cook there’s a convenient gadget on the market to help you. But which ones do you actually need, and which just gather dust after the first go?
If you’re a regular reader of Which? Conversation you may not think the world is a great place, but occasionally we’re reminded it’s not all doom and gloom. And I think National Cupcake Week is just the thing to distract us from the miserable weather and gloomy headlines.
National Cupcake Week starts today and runs all week, celebrating the delicious loveliness of cupcakes. Not the least calorific, or fat-free option, but everyone needs a beautiful-looking treat now and then, don’t they?
But if you’re not a dab hand with the oven, or a kitchen mixer, and making cupcakes feel you with fear – don’t worry – there are several handy cupcake makers you can buy.
A maker for every occasion
When I say ‘makers’, I mean all those little kitchen gadgets that fill kitchen countertops – cupcake makers, ice-cream makers, soup makers, doughnut makers, pie makers, pizza makers. There’s even a pancake maker that will imprint a smile one for you (I am seriously tempted!) and for less than £130 you can, if you wish, buy your own ‘mini donut factory’ maker.
Our researchers have tried out no end of these gadgets here at the Which? offices; and being the small appliances expert, I’ve had a go with quite a few myself for our ‘First Looks’ section.
Most of them are like Marmite – you either love them or hate them, and each has their good and bad points. Good points include being generally simple to use and very convenient; the bad being the valuable kitchen space each appliance takes up, and that they usually cost a fair few pounds.
How do different makers perform?
The Lakeland cupcake maker made acceptable cupcakes, albeit pale (but nothing a bit of icing wouldn’t cure); the Breville Gourmet pie maker was a surprising hit, making tasty little pies in 10 minutes (assuming you had some pastry handy and a fridge full of leftovers). The soup makers do, indeed, make soup without having to stand over a pan, although we’ve had slightly less success with the Breville crêpe maker and let’s not forget the noisy peanut butter maker, which kept overheating.
And who could forget the humble sandwich toaster – the staple equipment of most students returning to uni (mine’s been replaced with a health grill, which makes the most delicious toasties in about 60 seconds!).
Now, the point is do we really need them all? Which? Conversation’s Hannah Jolliffe suggested second kitchens would be needed if we bought every single maker, and I’m inclined to agree with her, but like I said above, there are pros and cons to owning each one.
They are very convenient and simple to use; just plug in, load up, switch on and wait. But they don’t revolutionise cooking – you could easily make everything in the oven or on the stove.
So, how do people decide which ones they want the most, and which they don’t like? Who has bought the latest gadget ‘maker’, only to leave it gathering dust in the cupboard after one use? And which ones have become ‘can’t live without’ items?