The Great British Bake Off is back with a fresh batch of aspiring bakers, but which gadgets are gracing the tent this year and are they the best a budding star baker can get?
As ever, there’s a definite retro theme to the tent, with a whimsical colour scheme of pastel blues, greens and purples – all punctuated by the show’s trademark union flag bunting.
The matching kitchen appliances certainly look good on screen, but they need to work well too if they’re to earn a place in your kitchen.
Read on to discover which kitchen gadgets are in the tent this year, and if they really are the best you can get for baking – plus, we reveal the cheaper alternatives to consider.
Head to our stand mixer reviews to see which models scored highly in our baking tests.
1. The KitchenAid stand mixer
One of the most familiar sights in the Bake Off tent is the pretty pastel selection of KitchenAid Artisan stand mixers, so it’s no surprise that it’s back for 2021.
If pastels colours aren’t your style, you can also find KitchenAid models in a striking red, purple and even on-trend shimmering copper. They don’t come cheap, though, setting you back upwards of £500 when they’re not on offer.
They certainly add a touch of baking kudos to your kitchen worktops, but how well do KitchenAid stand mixers really whisk, whip and knead – and are they worth spending that little but more on? Check out our KitchenAid stand mixer reviews to find out.
If you’re not prepared to part with a large chunk of money, or KitchenAid mixers just aren’t your style, we’ve found a range of high-performance stand mixers that won’t break the bank.
The Kenwood kMix (above) is an ever-popular alternative and has even featured in previous seasons of The Great British Bake Off.
You can find it in a range of stylish colours, including black, chrome and rose gold, although there isn’t quite as much choice as the KitchenAid range. You can sometimes pick one up for less than £250 when on offer though, making it a more affordable option.
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2. Neff Slide&Hide oven
Neff ovens are another regular fixture in the Bake Off tent, thanks to their signature ‘slide and hide’ door, which conveniently slots away so you can get a closer look at the showstopper bakes.
If you opt for a Neff oven, you can expect some high-end features that are sure to impress keen bakers, including steam cooking, pyrolytic self-cleaning and CircoTherm technology. Neff claims this ensures air circulates evenly around the oven, helping you to create multiple masterpieces at the same time.
They don’t come cheap, though, so you can expect to spend anywhere from £400 up to a whopping £1,600 for high-end models. Take a look at our Neff oven reviews to see how well they performed in our rigorous tests and whether they’re worth splashing out on.
If you’re a baking enthusiast, you don’t have to shell out on an all-singing, all-dancing oven. You’ll stand yourself in good stead with an oven that does the basics well – sticking to the temperature you set and spreading heat evenly to help you achieve perfect bakes.
This isn’t a given, though, as we’ve discovered ovens that veer more than 40°C from the temperature you set – a one-way route to blackened biscuits.
However, we’ve also found Best Buy ovens that produce well-risen cakes, delicious loaves and golden-brown cookies for less than £200.
Take a look at our built-in oven reviews to discover the best models for your budget.
3. Retro fridge-freezer
The Bake Off set wouldn’t be complete without a vintage-style fridge-freezer. This year’s choice is a 1950s-style model in turquoise and green, with a small freezer at the top and shiny handles.
The top-mounted design is pretty common among retro models, meaning the freezer is at eye level rather than lower down. This is ideal for when you need to quickly cool down a cake before icing it, as there’s no need to scramble around on your hands and knees to load and unload.
It’s difficult to tell exactly what model the Bake Off team has opted for this year, but we suspect it’s a Montpellier. In previous seasons, the tent has featured retro models from Gorenje, Servis and Smeg.
Montpellier models tend to be cheaper than Smeg, which can cost anywhere up to £2,000. Servis retro fridge-freezers start at just over £400, making them the most affordable option for giving your kitchen a Bake Off makeover.
Check out our retro fridge-freezer buying guide for advice on choosing the right option for you.
4. Swan Nordic microwave
A microwave might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of baking essentials, but they’re handy for jobs such as softening butter when you’re against the clock.
Bake Off has used Swan microwaves before, and this year is no different as they’ve opted for a striking ‘Nordic style’ model, but is it the best microwave for the job – or just the one that looks good in the tent? Read our full Swan SM22036GRYN microwave review to find out.
At just under £90, the Swan Nordic microwave isn’t too pricey, but if your budget doesn’t stretch that far, we have seen cheap microwaves from Tesco and Asda that cost less than £50. They tend to be quite small and have limited settings, plus they don’t look as stylish, but they’re fine for simple heating and defrosting jobs.
We’ve also discovered some branded Best Buy solo microwaves starting from just £45.
Check our expert microwave reviews before you buy to make the most of your money.
5. Magimix food processor
The bakers haven’t had to use a food processor so far this series, but Magimix has been the brand of choice in previous years. Magimix food processors come with a variety of mixing bowls, which is useful when you’re following elaborate recipes with multiple steps.
They also come with a wide range of attachments for everything from chopping and grating to whisking, mixing and blending.
A timeless design certainly matches the retro vibe of the tent, but Magimix’s come with a premium price too. Depending on which model you go for, you could be looking at spending anything from just over £200 right up to £400.
Budget friendly alternatives
You don’t need to spend hundreds of pounds on a food processor – there are Best Buy options for around £70.
If you only need a food processor for smaller baking jobs, such as grinding nuts for a coffee and walnut cake, it’s worth considering a mini chopper instead. They’re much smaller than most food processors and can’t perform the same range of tasks, but you can pick one up for less than £20.
Check out our food processor reviews to see how rival brands such as Cuisinart, KitchenAid and Sage compare to Magimix.
6. Dualit hand mixer
The contestants haven’t had to use a hand mixer yet either, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see them use as Dualit hand mixers, as we’ve seen them dotted around the tent in previous years.
At £70, Dualit models are pricey but tend to come with extra accessories such as balloon whisks, and a sturdier metal design. However, this means they can be heavier than cheaper mixers, which could make for tired arms if you’re tackling a big bowl of batter.
You can pick up a basic hand mixer for around £15, but it’s unlikely to have the same accessories as a Dualit.
Alternatively, you could save money and precious countertop space by getting a single device capable of most baking tasks. Food processors tend to be more versatile than stand mixers and hand mixers, although the bowls are often smaller and the mixing can be less thorough.
Head to our guide on hand mixers vs stand mixers for more advice on hand mixers.
Choosing the best kitchen gadgets
The gadgets in the Bake Off tent are easy on the eye, but that’s not always backed up by best-in-class performance.
Some might be worth splashing the cash on, but there are always cheaper options to consider if you don’t have a big budget to play with. Spending more doesn’t guarantee a better product, so it’s worth checking our reviews before parting with your hard-earned cash.
Not sure which kitchen gadgets you need? Take a look at our guide to choosing between a mixer, blender or food processor.