|The Kenwood Chef Classic|
Although I’m a cake baker with many years of experience, and at times have had a pretty prolific output, I’ve never used anything more powerful than a hand-held electric mixer to make things with. So it was with some trepidation, as well as excitement, that I started to unpack the huge box containing the Kenwood Chef Classic (KM330) from Argos. The sturdy box, along with the inner polystyrene padding which protected the machine, ensured that everything arrived from the courier undamaged.
The Kenwood Chef Classic, which has an 800W motor, comes with a plastic bowl, K-beater, balloon whisk and dough hook, as well as a splash-guard, and there are output sockets on the machine for various attachments, including blenders and food processors, which can be bought separately. There is a very basic manual, but there is nothing complicated about using the machine, so I think the instructions are adequate. One of the most important things to know when using this type of machine is the maximum amounts of ingredients that can be used, and this is covered in the instruction manual. There are enough recipes in the included recipe book to give a guide to the capabilities of the Chef as well as an idea as to how to adapt your own favourite recipes for use with the mixer, but many of the recipes are designed to use the extra optional attachments, so aren’t much good for the basic model Chef Classic.
|The splashguard, open for additional ingredients|
I couldn’t detect any difference between this pastry and my usual hand-made pastry, and it was a lot easier on my hands, which often suffer from arthritic pains after too much repetitive movement, such as rubbing fat into flour. I certainly wouldn’t have made such a large amount of pastry in one go, by hand, so the machine will be a definite bonus at busy times of the year.
I also used the Kenwood chef to whisk double cream successfully; after reading through some of the recipes I was surprised again to see that it could whisk as little as 150mls. Whisking the cream didn’t take long but I was a little apprehensive about missing the optimum point and over-whipping, so there was a lot of stopping and starting. More experience will make this easier, I’m sure.
|The dough hook (left) and balloon whisk (right)|
Finally, I decided that I really should use the dough hook to get a full idea of the Kenwood Chef’s performance, even though I don’t often have much success with yeast dough. I followed the instructions in the recipe book to make a batch of enriched dough for
buns, but instead of making 12 large
buns, I cut the filled and rolled dough into 16 smaller buns. The buns had a
really good texture, and using the food mixer involved much less work on my
part as all the mixing and kneading was done by the machine, and I could even
put the bowl of dough into my Neff oven, which has a dough proving setting. Chelsea
Overall I’ve been very satisfied with the results obtained with the Kenwood Chef Classic KM330, although there was one little niggle about the construction which would have been inexpensive to improve. Initially, the machine tended to vibrate and move about on the work surface when in use, particularly when the motor struggled or was unbalanced by a ball of dough. There are points on the base where rubber feet could easily have been fitted, and when I fitted stick-on feet at these points all movement stopped and the machine seemed much more stable! The motor also seems very noisy, although that might just be my perception, as I don’t have anything similar to judge it against.
|The K-beater, for general mixing|
One point which I have come to realise is that I need to find room somewhere in the kitchen to have the mixer out all the time. It’s quite heavy to move about, so unless it’s on show and ready to use, the temptation will always be to use either the hand-held mixer or even a bowl and spoon method for cakes, which forms the largest part of my baking repertoire. It would have been useful if the standard kit included some sort of cover, rather than having to buy one as an accessory, as the mixer is obviously going to need one if it is left out in the greasy, steamy atmosphere of the kitchen. A cover is not really expensive to buy separately but could easily have been included without raising the price or lowering the profit too much.
Having initially been reluctant to believe a stand food mixer was necessary, I’m now convinced that the Kenwood Chef Classic KM330 will save me both time and effort. I’m not expecting a great improvement in the quality of my baking, except perhaps with yeast dough, but I do think that the major part of the preparation will be quicker and easier.