Kya deLongchamps whips up some love for iconic mixing bowls
Christmas is approaching and while I know some of you are well ahead with those puddings and cakes, for many of us it’s time to drag out the mixing bowl — the big one, the signature one. The heavy, glazed stoneware bowl we all know with its distinct relief design and superbly useful angling “foot” for muscular mixing moments, is an honest staple of most kitchens, with a design that has changed little in over a century.
My memory of the mixing bowl is of course in a traditional cream colour, gripped to my grandmother’s slight bosom with a firm brace of one arm, a sherry bottle determinedly upended and spewing down over the more innocent ingredients. Nana’s cigarette ash drooped dangerously over the glistening, churn of eggs, flour and pelleted fruit — the fag balanced on a tensed, ruby bottom lip.
Despite the odd chip to the top edge from rude clashes in storage, that monumental bowl pressed into service throughout the years, seemed as indestructible as she was.
The iconic mixing bowl was created by Mason Cash & Co, in Church Gresley Derbyshire in England around 1901. The company was established by chief potter “Bossy” Mason in the mid-1800s, and even when acquired in full by Thomas Cash, the run of names was preserved as Mason Cash in honour of Bossy.
The mixing bowls came in a soft yellow “cane” or white glaze on the traditional cream coloured clay and in a range of sizes (which equate to 12cm-35cm in sizes for cake and pudding bowls).
What distinguished the Mason Cash bowls visually were the bas-relief style designs to the exterior of their hefty vessel made famous by Wedgwood in the 18th century. In its purist form this is a simple diamond and frame design with a crimped pie-crust like edge, but naturally, over the years the decoration has been poked and played with. Recently, a Homepride “Fred” was embossed on a collectable set of Mason Cash bowls. The diamond edge is said to have developed in Mason bake-ware to allow less pastry to be used when topping pies for the oven during the War years.
Like all great design moments, the relief of Mason Cash has a practical purpose too — the raised triangles set along the edge of the bowls allows a cook to put the bowl in the crook of the arm and get very physical with the stirring process without fear of losing their grip. With buttery lumps and lines carried over the bowl’s exterior, wet or greasy fingers have more stay, and the colour freshened with a white interior — well, it just had that iconic rightness to it.
The Original Cane Collection would be worth acquiring over time as it remains truly useful and unobjectionable in any era or style of kitchen. Together with heritage style bowls, dishes and egg holders, a must have is their Stacking Milk Bottle Measuring Set which quaintly incorporates three measuring cups and a flour shaker lid (€14.99/HomeStore & More — a great value go to for the brand). The new Batter Bowl (available in a number of designs) with a pouring spout is ingenious.
In new collections, we really love the Innovation mixing bowls which allow the bowl to be set on an angle all around on the bowl rather than on a single foot. The range has a cleaner, contemporary look if Cane is just too mumsy for you. As a present, team tradition and Hygge loveliness with the Forest collection in a folksy green mixing bowl. The range includes four nesting mixing bowls, and two pudding basins, with standard bowls from €27.
So which mixing bowl for what recipes? A shallow rake of mixing bowl is far easier to swing a spoon or whisk into when marshalling a large quantity of dense ingredients. The Cane S6 (33cm) is perfect for large cakes and bread making (around €31). For a second, I would go right down to a small model, the S30 (21cm) or S36 (15cm) still heavy enough to prevent the bowl ‘walking’ across the counter as you assault eggs or whip at cookie dough. Sets of four can be found on sale for as little as €7.
All the modern Mason Cash are dishwasher safe and microwave safe. To add to your collection, consider some 19th century bake-ware which has changed little over time and which transfers beautifully from oven to table. There are patterns following the mixing bowls or more Art Deco stacked forms, brilliant for pies, hot pots and lasagne.
For steaming puddings, take a look at their Pudding Basin collection in searing new colour from a deep burgundy to turquoise — again a super low-key Christmas gift with a few culinary goodies or Irish farmhouse produce resting in its glistening belly, from €7 nationwide.