Here I sit, snowed in for another day.
For the last month Amazon has sent me daily special offers for ‘Stand Mixers’. I find this surprising as not only did I buy my stand mixer several weeks ago, but I bought it via Amazon. I am not going to buy another. They are not cheap and you need to make the right decision when you finally take the plunge. I have waited a long time for mine and it’s only as it is my 40th this Christmas that I felt I could ask for it as a special present.
The buzz among many food bloggers is about them lusting after, or succumbing to a KitchenAid. You may have read about my pre-purchase ponderings in my earlier post Decisions Decisions. I got lots of great advice on that post. For that, I thank you all. It all helped. I also expect to get many comments on this post too about people’s favourites. It’s all good! Let the debate continue.
I waded through reviews on various websites and read people’s stories from near and far. I thought it might be useful for me to write about what I have found and to distil it down for you if you are one of the great undecided.
I understand too that many of you don’t give a monkey’s. They are an expensive bit of kit and not essential to be a good cook or baker. I managed without one for years and turned out perfectly good bread, cakes and soups. For those of you not taxed by such decisions I apologise. Come back when I make some cake; this is going to be a long one…
If Nigella has never received a penny from KitchenAid she is missing a trick. Back in her early TV series we were seduced by her finger licking goodness and her tight sweatered cake mixing. The KitchenAid was very much a part of those scenes with the fairy lights and the misty focus glamour. She loves Americana and all that comes with it. The curves of her red Artisan stand mixer are reminiscent of a 1950’s Oldsmobile. I believe our generation, thanks to Nigella, now has that image in their subconscious, and why not? They look great and they work well. They are going to spend a lot of time on the worktop (they are too heavy to be lifting in and out of a cupboard) so let’s face it, why not have something shiny and sexy in the kitchen?
Conversely there is the humble Kenwood Chef. Many of my generation remember it as something that their mother had at home. My mother had a white one with pale blue detail, I remember it with surprising clarity. In fact it looked remarkably like this one that FarmersGirl writes about in this post. This is still going strong and has serviced two careful owners.
Mum had numerous attachments for hers, my Dad bought additions to it for her birthday, which even back in my childhood I found somewhat unromantic. Did she really need a ‘potato tumbler’ for her special day? It appeared to me to be a mixing bowl lined with sandpaper: Not really that thrilling. The Kenwood Chef was a behemoth that sat in the corner of our seventies kitchen, along with the coffee dispenser, the wall attached chip slicer and the greasy Xpelair. It reminds me of the past.
There is a curious thing that happens though as you race towards your 40’s. The distaste that you have for all things past seems to very gradually change. As you realise that life is less infinite, you begin to appreciate those who have gone before. The paths they have taken and the decisions they have made become more interesting and valuable.
I have read many tales of Kenwood Chef’s being passed from parent to child after giving 20-30+ years of service. Doesn’t that tell you something? Can you imagine any electrical appliance that you have now being passed to your children when you shuffle into a retirement home? I doubt most of them will last 5 years.
When I began to look into this, my friend Deb offered me the loan of her KitchenAid whilst she was on holiday as a ‘test model’. Here it is on a photo she took before it headed off to mine for its vacation.
I cleared the worktops so it could have pride of place. It’s cream paintwork went beautifully with my kitchen. It makes you want to bake, although I suspect that in many kitchens it’s an expensive prop. It looks, and is sturdy and practical and I must say It turned out some of the best bread based items I had ever made. The Chelsea Buns I made were as light as a feather.
I made cakes in it too, although I found that I had to do lots of scraping to make sure all the butter that was stuck to the inside of the bowl was scraped into the mix. I found unmixed butter on the mixer blade too. I was slightly perturbed when it started walking across the worktop when I made bread, so can understand how THIS happened to Megan from What Megan’s Making.
The quantity of bread I make, to make it worthwhile bothering, is right on the brink of the KitchenAid’s ability, so it led me to make it in smaller batches.
Most people who have a KitchenAid don’t seem to have many attachments other than the balloon whisk, mixer blade and dough hook that are included. They can work out costly. The bundled accessory pack is £150 for a grinder, slicer and fruit strainer. There is not an option to add a liquidiser, so a separate KitchenAid Liquidiser is another £150. This is getting into serious money! And you still have no ‘food processor’ functionality. My stalwart Magimix would still be in demand. KitchenAid offer just one 300w model that occasionally gets offered in new tempting colourways. The £269 price tag is pretty much a fixed price as a ‘take it or leave it’ option.
That said I was sad to see it go back to Deb. I loved it and it had left me knowing that I definitely wanted a stand mixer. It does change the way you bake as it allows you to get on a prepare the next ingredient as it ‘does it’s thing’.
As an aside, I also reminded myself of the days when I used to regularly receive a new company car. The excitement of something new and shiny is great, but it is the practicality that lingers and that you have to live with day in day out. I resolved that I MUST make my decision based on ‘usefulness’ not just beauty.
There is a range of Kenwood Chef’s from the basic Classic up to the Titanium. Choice can be a daunting thing. Of course, on going through the tech specs and the ‘Help Me Choose’ app on the website, I convinced myself that the Titanium was the model I needed. Isn’t that always the way? I drew the line at the ‘Major’ and it’s larger capacity, and the Cooking Chef, which seems a ridiculous concept to me, and also the timer option. Who needs to time how long they are mixing. You mix it until it’s ‘done’ surely? My thoughts on cooking intuition are forming in my head for a later post.
I was surprised to find that the Titanium chef comes with not only the 3 mixing attachments that the KitchenAid offers, but with the new addition of a rubber edged mixing blade (for better scraping of the bowl) AND also with a food processor with a selection of blades plus the hefty glass liquidiser. The large glass jug reminds me of countless strange soups made by my Mum plus a selection of lurid blue milkshakes that I used to concoct with my brother that consisted of milk, ice cream, ice, jam and blue food colouring. Erm…yes, I have a chequered kitchen past.
The power was the main selling point for me, the KitchenAid’s 300w is trumped by the 1400w of the Titanium. That’s a whole lot more welly for bread mixing. On the pricing front too they have cleverly priced it at £5 less than the KitchenAid as it is currently available at £264.
The more I looked at it, the more I began to appreciate its elegance. Sure, it’s not curvy and glossy, but it’s kind of classy in its own way with its brushed metal body and stainless shiny bowl.
A little bit of History
This might not seem important, but I found it interesting.
KitchenAid is owned by the Whirlpool Corporation and is based in Michigan USA. Allegedly, when Hobart executives brought the first mixers home for testing, one executive’s wife remarked, “I don’t care what you call it, but I know it’s the best kitchen aid I ever had.” KitchenAid was later adopted as the mixer’s trademark.
Kenwood is a British Company borne out of the post war era that started life making toasters in 1947. They launched the Kenwood Chef in 1950 at the Ideal Homes Exhibition with stocks at Harrods selling out in just a week. Unfortunately the Kenwood is no longer made in the UK.
My decision made
As I am rubbish at hiding my light under my bushel you have probably guessed I decided on the Kenwood Chef Titanium Here it is the day I unpacked it and took a photo on my iPhone to Twitter it to the nation.Technology is an amazing thing.
Ironically I planned to get the Kenwood a month before my birthday so I could bake cakes in it for my best friends 40th birthday party this Saturday. The snow has put paid to that idea so I shall just have to enjoy using it myself as the grand cake baking is to be delayed for a month.
I love the sculptural quality of the stainless steel K Beater, whisk and dough hook so I have given them pride of place rather than tucking them away in a cupboard.
The power of American aesthetics is strong, but it didn’t quite win over practicality and value.
Not this time.
Let me know what you decide or where your allegiances lie. There’s not a right or wrong choice, just what works for you.
Here is an update, written after using the Chef for 6 months: Ken Update.
As so many people have told me that this post helped them choose…if you decide to buy a Kenwood Chef Titanium and click through to it on any of the links or photos above to get to it, Amazon will send me a little something to say thank you. So if this post (or the other two) below have helped you please click through on the link to give me a little birthday present. It won’t cost you any more but it means Amazon share the joy!
26/4/13 – The Kenwood Titanium model has been updated in the last year to the Kenwood KMC010 so please check details as it may have different attachments etc.
Post 1 Deciding
Post 2 Comparing
Post 3 Kenwood Review