Monday, 27 February 2012

The New Mixer

Well, the new mixer has been purchased - and it turned out to be none of the brands we had discussed. It cost €99 at an outlet store called Chronostock in Chateauroux and is an H. Koenig KM-60s. It came with beater, whisk and dough hook, 5 l bowl and bowl cover. It has a power take off for a mincer attachment (I've checked online and they cost about €35 so I guess we will get one in due course). It doesn't have a second power take off for blender / juicer but we weren't looking for that anyway. The motor is 1000W and the body plastic. The accessories are not dishwasher proof. It is made in France.

So far I've made two cakes with it, the first using the recipe for a plain cake supplied in the instruction manual and the second making some adjustments to the quantities because the first cake was too dry. The second cake also got some sultanas and chopped preserved orange peel, to see how the machine coped with lumpy bits in the mix. We have yet to use the dough hook.

The mixer rattles and whines as it mixes, but this is a common criticism of all brands. My suspicion is that plastic bodied machines rattle more than metal. The arm, or head, or whatever you call it is rather stiff to lift up and down, and this is an observation made by other reviewers too. I've found that it is getting smoother with use and practice. Importantly, it seems to mix thoroughly, picking up from the sides and bottom so no stopping to scrape down at half time is necessary. The other thing I like is that the machine is very plain - not very attractive, but no twiddly details that collect grime. The casing is smooth and uniform, so easy to quickly wipe over. I also like the reassurance of the big motor (the small motor on Kitchen Aids has me baffled as I was under the impression that bigger is better).

The first cake - cracked on the top, which is a sign of too dry a mix
- the recipe's fault, not the mixer's.
I was quite shocked at how Kitchen Aid and Kenwood have cornered the market for stand mixers. At Ad'Hauc, a specialist kitchen shop which sells top brand cookware like Staub, they only stocked Kitchen Aid mixers. The supermarket Carrefour (which is well worth checking out if you are searching for kitchen appliances) had Kenwood, its own brand and the smaller Bosch MUMs. Darty, the electrical goods chain, had Kitchen Aid, Kenwood and Proline, another budget French brand. We never saw the Robusta or Clatronic brands we were interested in. It's no wonder everyone buys Kitchen Aid or Kenwood - they are virtually the only ones you see, and certainly the only ones you can easily find reviews of. It is also clear that there is not a big market for stand mixers any more. I guess you have to be a serious cook to want to invest in one. I'm afraid we were very put off by how much of a fashion item Kitchen Aids seem to be. We seriously considered the Kenwood, but in the end the price difference (they were €299 at Darty) meant that the Koenig won as we figured the difference in build quality was not €200 worth.



  1. I like your comments about build quality and design... your new buy looks practical... a cook's tool! Wipe clean and no crannies that can't be cleaned without toothpicks is what's needed.... not daft 'retro-chrome' jet lines of the 40s and 50s. Stiff when bought for that hinge is good too... loose and easy... it will only get looser and easier! And the power is important... but, and a big but, it is the gear train that is the most important thing... only one PTO says to me that it has a simpler gear chain than models that do all... equates to "less to go wrong"!
    Look forward to reying some of the experiments... hint!?

  2. Sorry, for "reying"... please read "trying"... two left digit syndrome struck again!

  3. We've had our kitchen aid for nearly twenty years (bought it in the US) and it's been a great machine. I, too, was surprised to learn that the power was so low. I use it quite frequently for mixing and for kneading dough. We also have the meat grinder attachment and use that a lot as well.

    It's never met a job it couldn't do, and I'm hopeful that I'll have it for another 20 years. We did have to buy a rather hefty transformer to make it work in Europe, and we may need to replace the beater attachment as it's enamel coating is starting to crack. But on the whole it's a fine machine. They have become rather pricey these days...

  4. Congratulations on your new mixer! It looks very smart.

    We bought a mincer attachment for our Kenwood and, although we don't use it that often, it's really invaluable when we do - like most specialist tools I suppose.

    Happy baking !!

  5. Walt. Interesting take on the word "rather"...

    I like the retro look, but only at retro prices. Cakes I like no matter what.

    Jean if we ever have roast lamb leftovers (HA!) we'll get the minceur for proper shepherd's pie.

  6. Simon... Cottage Pie is made with mince... Shepherd's Pie is made with slices and human'ly recovered meat from the w/e joint.

  7. Tim - I suspect that in your house it probably is... Our London (and therefore proper) shepherd's pie was lamb, minced by hand on a windey mincer on Monday afternoon after school.

  8. Aha... it was a London Shepherd's bush-pie then... that explains all the mincing.
    Only the toughest sheep make it into London.

  9. The meat-grinding attachment is much more useful here than it was in the U.S., where all the supermarkets sell ground beef, pork, chicken, veal, turkey, and lamb. Here in France you can only buy ground beef and ground pork. Once I wanted to make moussaka so I bought lamb. When I explained to the butcher what it was, he quickly pointed out that he couldn't grind the lamb. His machine was for beef exclusively. So the meat grinder here gets a frequent workout.

  10. You wouldn't happen to have an English manual for it, would you? Mine's in French and I'm tired of Google translate's weird translations ;-)

  11. Anon - sorry, no - French manual here, too. Just make it up - it worked for me....