An electric hand beater is a device used for whipping and aerating ingredients such as cream and eggs and for beating batters for cakes, muffins, pancakes and crepes. They are motorised and easy to use, generally light to handle and small enough to store in a drawer and be readily available.

Some come with more than one attachment enabling it to perform other functions as well as beating, including kneading dough and chopping.

Choose a hand beater that handles all your needs. If you don't have a mini chopper or food processor then buying one that has these attachments makes good sense. If however, you have a food processor then hand beaters with lots of attachments, in my mind, is a waste of money. I've had them and I never use the extra attachments because I have other more powerful appliances that do those other jobs better. If you've ever tried kneading dough with the dough hooks on some hand beaters, you'll know what I mean. If you like to make dough, yeasted or otherwise, buy a breadmaker or a stand mixer.

Whilst having appliances that perform a number of functions can be advantageous, in my experience, when a company tries to make it's product do too many things, mostly they don't do any of those things well. It's better to buy an appliance that does just what it's designed to do and use it for that.

I find hand beaters great for things that don't need to be beaten for longer than a couple of minuets. If a mixture has to be whipped or creamed, hand beaters, although they can accomplish the task, tie you up doing that task when you could be doing something else, like assembling other ingredients.

As such, I use my hand beater for pancake and crepe batters and whipping cream where I can control the amount of whipping needed so as not to turn my cream into butter. Cream isn't always easy to do in a stand mixer because it whips fairly quickly and can easily be over whipped without you knowing.

Hand mixers are also good for packet cakes where all the ingredients are already added and all you need to do is combine the dry mix with eggs, milk and butter or oil. These preprepared mixes generally don't require too much beating and a hand mixer does the job well.

For creaming butter and sugar and whipping egg whites into meringue however, use a stand mixer, they're quicker, enable you to do other things while they're doing the mixing and do a better job.

The best hand mixers, in my opinion have beaters that are thin, easily removed, are dishwasher safe (beaters, not the motor) and that don't have any other attachments. They'll have several speeds and a pulse button or burst button for those last quick whips to get the final result, such as whipping cream. The casing of the motor (the part you hold) has smooth lines and no crevices or cracks where food sprays can lodge and rot. Check out Breville's range of hand beaters.

Happy Cooking!