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When I was just starting out as a wedding cake maker in Northern California, I worked from home. And my retro, Berkeley kitchen sounded like the Ashby BART station (for those not from the area, just know that it was loud). I had a KitchenAid Classic stirring up batter and a KitchenAid Pro whipping buttercream on an endless loop. The machines competed with one another to be loudest and, like American Gladiators, threatened to knock each other off the wobbly, wooden prep table.
Now, my professional baking happens in a commercial kitchen, where the industrial stand mixers live on the floor, not the counter. The Hobart and Vollrath mixers (they have 30-quart capacities and weigh more than 500 pounds!) have wire cages that wrap around them so you don’t fall in. My home kitchen is back to being just that: home. And when I’m baking at home, there is no better stand mixer than the KitchenAid Artisan Mini.
My 3.5-quart, tilt-head mixer is a cheerful shade of yellow (while KitchenAid stopped making this color — a shame! — the mini still comes in other fun shades like Hot Sauce and Matte Black). It’s a couple of inches shorter, 20% smaller, and 25% lighter than the KitchenAid Classic stand mixer. When it comes to real estate on my counter and when I’m cleaning the bowl and attachments in my sink and drying them on a drying rack, saving a couple of inches makes a huge difference in my small kitchen. And it’s really, really cute, which happens to be a priority for me at home.
But aesthetics and economy (smaller footprint and lower pricetag, as it’s about $80 cheaper than the regular Artisan!) aside, the real reason I am now in a committed relationship with the Mini is technique. It does the stand mixer things you can’t really do by hand (at least, not without behemoth strength), and its versatility is unparalleled: What other appliance can whip egg whites into delicate, airy meringues and grind chunks of pork into sausage? But why the Mini over the rest? Again, technique.
Have you ever tried to whisk just one egg in a standard stand mixer? How about just a half-cup of cream for a whipped topping on your brownie sundae before bed? There isn’t enough contact between the whisk attachment and the bigger bowl — just idle spinning and spinning without much action. The Mini does both of these things, and other small-batch-specific tasks, effortlessly.
Because my home life is dominated by a toddler and dog, I often find myself making tiny six-inch cakes and miniature dog biscuits. Oh, and pasta, all the time (my pasta sheeter attachment works perfectly with the Mini). My Mini gets two to three runs per day and does everything I want it to do. And, I swear, it smiles at me from its sunny, counter corner.
Do you have a stand mixer you love just as much? Tell us about it in the comments!