Of all the baking gear I have, my mixing equipment gets by far the most use. ‘Cause let’s face it, pretty much everything in pastry has to be mixed. Not necessarily by machine of course, but I myself would be lost without a stand mixer. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Mixing starts with measuring, so I use (mostly) a scale. A scale is essential for dry ingredients like flour which can vary quite a lot using dry measures and the ol’ dip-and-sweep method. A scale that does metric as well as imperial is handy when you’re converting a Continental recipe.
Liquids can be weighed as well, though most people prefer to use volume measures. Those are quite accurate though you want true liquid measures (not dry measures you’re pouring liquid into…that’s a no-no). I like this Perfect Beaker, plus that little shot glass thingie, which is fun. Of course when you’re down to that level of measurement, spoons are just fine.
For the actual mixing I stand behind stainless steel bowls which are nice and light (none of those infernal authentic-looking, ten-pound crockery things) durable and shallow for easy manipulation of contents. To operate those you’ll of course need implements: wooden spoons, whisks and scrapers (I like semi-rigid heat-resistant silicone the best).
Regarding machines, I keep meaning to get a hand mixer but I never do. I’m too accustomed to the stand mixer. However I must confess that I wish I had one since this big 7-quart beast of a Viking isn’t very good at subtlety. The implements don’t reach the very bottom of the bowl, so I find myself picking up the bowl every time I want to beat a very small quantity of something. That said it’s a powerhouse and will push through pretty much anything.
Now me, I don’t think everyone needs that kind of volume and torque. Almost every other serious baker in the world will do fine — more than fine, really — with a 5-quart KitchenAid. Those things were originally designed by Hobart, the #1 name in industrial mixers, so there’s no going wrong there. They were even re-engineered a few years ago with more powerful motors. So unless you have a backyard brick oven and want to make loads and loads of bread or pizza dough in one go, you really don’t need a Viking.
I should add that I’ve heard that Breville and Cuisinart make good stand mixers, but I’ve never used either. (That was a free product hint in case you didn’t pick it up, Breville and Cuisinart marketing teams).