With the Great British Bake Off 2013 kicking off today, we round-up the ways in which our tests and Best Buys can make your baking better and easier.
Baking is becoming more and more popular, thanks both to Mary Berry and to innovative new baking gadgets and kitchen equipment. But getting the wrong gadgets can turn baking from a heavenly pastime into hellish task, and make your baking efforts unappetising.
To avoid lumpy sponges, burnt biscuits and sunken loaves, check out these top five ways Which? rigorous lab tests can help your baking, and take a look at our guide to dream kitchen equipment that even Mary Berry would be envious of:
1. Finding you the perfect stand mixer
Stand mixers are top of the wish list for most dedicated bakers – but if you are going to invest, you’ll want to pick the right one that really will make your life easier.
When we test stand mixers we see how well they whisk, whip, mix, blend, chop, slice, grate, puree ingredients and knead bread – we’ve found really differences between a good one and a bad one.
Choosing a Which? Best Buy will stop you ending up with stodgy or flat results, and instead give you evenly mixed batter and voluminous cream and egg whites.
Visit our stand mixer reviews, with brands including KitchenAid, Dualit, Morphy Richards and Kenwood, to find the best one for you.
2. Identifying cheap hand mixers that really work
If you’re not yet ready to commit to a life of baking, but would like a little help in the kitchen, a hand mixer is a good, cheaper alternative to a stand mixer.
When we test hand mixers, we see how good each model is at mixing cake ingredients, as well as whisking eggs and making things like mayonnaise.
A Best Buy model will quickly and effortlessly whisk egg whites into fluffy peaks, and whip cream so it’s light and airy. See our hand mixer reviews to find Best Buys for under £25.
3. Banishing patchy, burnt biscuits
When we test built-in ovens, freestanding cookers and range cookers, one of the key things we look at is how evenly the it bakes your food.
We use baking trays covered with 10mm-wide strips of shortbread and cakes to reveal how effectively each model distributes the heat. We’ve found ovens that leave some areas unbrowned and others burnt.
Take a look at our video on how we test cookers to see the stark differences between a Best Buy and a Don’t Buy.
4. Revealing the true size of ovens
The claimed capacity of an oven, range cooker or freestanding cooker is often very different from the usable space inside. When we measure ovens we only measure the space that you will actually be able to use – for example, we don’t include the space beneath the lowest shelf.
We also test each one by trying to fit in large fake turkeys, chickens and roast beef joints as well as a tray of roast potatoes so you can be confident that with a spacious Best Buy, you’ll be able to cook and bake for your whole family, or even the local bake sale!
Take a look at our built-in oven, freestanding cooker and range cooker reviews to find the right one for you.
5. Helping you bake the perfect loaf
If Paul Hollywood has inspired you to try your hand at baking bread, then a decent breadmaker could be a great addition to your kitchen. We’ve clocked up nearly 700 hours of baking time in our breadmaker tests and produced more than 300 loaves of bread, weighing almost 300kg.
A Which? Best Buy breadmaker will help you avoid disaster loaves with big holes, knobbly crusts and sunken tops.
- Not sure what gadget to get? See our video on the best baking gadgets
- For an all-round kitchen gadget, take a look at our food processor reviews
- Find out which are the best shops for buying electrical appliances