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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Quest to find a new mixer

My poor old mixer decided to have an early retirement after baking 530+ cupcakes for the Girls Night In. That's 11 batches straight in 2.5 days.

I started The Cupcake Gallery on a Sunbeam Mixmaster - the $99 model we got for a wedding present. This lasted me the 1st year of the business before it died. So I went and got another one which was exactly the same, but this one didn't last long so we had it refunded under warranty. Then I bought a $59 mixer from Aldi which went for another year, but I had to spin the bowl by hand which I got tired of. Then I 'splurged' and bought the Sunbeam Cafe Series for $429. 
This one lasted me just 3 months... To give it some credit, it was the mechanism that spins the bowl that stopped rather than the main motor itself. I still think it is a great mixer, but perhaps just not built to take on so many cupcakes at once! Thankfully it was still under warranty so we had it replaced with a brand new one, then Myer was good enough to give us a full refund after that.

So began my search for a new mixer.
My first thought was to rush out and buy a Kitchenaid... then I decided that I really should do some research into what else is out there. I knew I wanted something a bit more pro this time, but without getting a commercial one.

Based on my circumstances, things I had to take into consideration were:

  • I wanted a hardy machine that could handle loads more than that of the average home-baker.
  • With the refund from the Sunbeam ($429), I didn't want to have to pay too much extra.
  • I wanted a planetary mixer this time.
  • I wanted a splashguard. No more draping a towel over the mixer.
  • I prefered a handle on the bowl.
  • Though I'm winding down the business and not taking any more orders, I am still running workshops next year, which means 150+ cupcakes for each workshop.
  • It had to be something that would last us for the next 10 years as we go on long term mission in Africa and may not be able to replace my mixer easily.
  • I like the idea of attachments, so that it is not just a mixer. It will also save storage space given we're moving to smaller housing at Bible College next year.
  • We're looking to replace our food processor and blender, so a machine that has these attachments at a reasonable price would be good.
So in the end, these were the mixers I considered.
Kitchenaid Artisan KSM 150 (from AUD$629)
I've heard nothing but good stuff about the KA, so I knew this was a quality machine. However, despite most people liking the way it looks, I'm not a big fan of the design...

- splashguard
- 4.8L capacity bowl with handle
- Choice of colours
- good reputation for durability

- only 300w motor, though apparently this is not always an accurate indicator of power. I'd read reviews about the motor burning out for those who bake large batches frequently. I'd feel more comfortable with a higher wattage motor. However, I know a lot of semi-pro cake makers who use KA.
- Only 3 months replacement warranty
Kitchenaid Delux (from AUD$713)
I considered this 'commcercial' model too, but the only differences between this and the KA Artisan were:
- 315w motor instead of 300w
- Bowl lifts up instead of the top lifting up.
- only comes in blue or red
Kenwood kmix KMX51 (from AUD$548)
I really liked the look of this one! It was sleek and looked well built.

- 500w motor
- Option of colours for an extra cost
- Splashguard 
- 4.6L bowl with handle

- I read a few reviews that said it didn't scrape the sides well and left lots of batter unmixed on the side. This is a major issue for me if I'm going to be mixing a lot of batches.
Breville Wizz BEM800 (from AUD$436)
This one almost had me sold. It had everything I wanted for the lowest price. But I found it hard to trust the name, as I heard that Breville is made by the same people who make Sunbeam - my last mixer.....

- 1000w motor
- Big handle on bowl
- count up and down timer
- 4.7L bowl
- Splashguard
- Scraper beater tool which scrapes the sides of the bowl
- 2 year replacement warranty + 5 year motor repair warranty

- I went to David Jones and had a look in person and wasn't happy with how it felt. It didn't feel as solid as the others. It was  a bit chunkier than the other mixers and felt like they tried to make it feel solid when it really wasn't.
- I haven't heard many testimonials about the durability of Breville machines.
Kenwood EON Chef Classic Kitchen Machine KMC002B (from AUD$782.95)
This one came with a food processor and liquidiser attachment which was very tempting!

- Bowl with handle
- 1000w motor
- Attachments available

- Smaller capacity bowl at 4.4L
- I wasn't sure if batter will stick to the sides of this like the Kenwood kmix, but there is a separate 'flexibeater' that you can purchase for $60 that scrapes the sides.
- Splashguard not included. You have to purchase it separately for $100.

With this one I had to take into consideration that I'd probably end up buying an extra large bowl (4.8L bowl for $140), a splashguard, plus the flexibeater. Which will bring the overall cost to over $1000.
Kenwood Chef Premier KMC510 (from AUD$529)

- 1000w motor
- Splashguard with hinged lid over opening (I really liked this!)
- white - I prefer the white over silver
- 4.8L bowl
- Comes with a mincer attachment
- Flexibeater can be purchased separately

- No handle on bowl!
- No flexibeater advertised as being included

The verdict
So in the end it was between the Breville, Kitchenaid Artisan and Kenwood Chef Premier.

I decided on the Kenwood Chef Premier mainly for the following:
- 1000w motor
- Splashguard inclusion
- Large bowl
- Good reputation for durability
- Priced within my budget - to get the same in a KA would mean the commercial model (not the delux above) which is not readily available in Australia and priced waaaay over my budget.
- Design - it felt sturdy
- attachments more obtainable
- More attachments available
- Optional flexibeater
- I can get more for less $$$ and still get a machine that has a good reputation for durability.

I figured I could do without a handle on the bowl for now, but I'd planned buy a flexibeater for $60.

I called around Harvey Normam, Good Guys, Myer, DJs, Bing Lee, and Clive Anthony and managed to price match to get the price down to $475. When I went to buy it at the Good Guys, it turned out that some boxes had the flexibeater included (Kenwood is phasing this out). So I saved myself more there. Then there's a redemption offer for a free $199 Kenwood breadmaker. Bonus!

I still think the Breville and KA are good machines, but one was just a little over my budget and the other unfortunately hasn't been around long enough to develop a reputation for durability.

Going home a proud owner of a Kenwood Chef Premier!

I baked the first cake with my Kenwood today and was very happy with it, the flexibeater is a dream -  a must to get if you're considering the Kenwood Chef, and the splashguard is great!!  I could see what was going on inside the bowl without being splashed on. Also meant my 3 year old could help spoon ingredients into the bowl without me worrying about her getting her fingers caught in the beaters! However, I think I'll definitely be getting the bowl with the handles :o) Too bad I already got my early Christmas present (new flash for my camera)!

The tools: dough hook, flexibeater, K-beater, balloon whisk

 Creaming butter and sugar

Lastly, a few helpful things if you're shopping around for a mixer:

www.productreviews.com.au is good for reviews on mixers.

These online shops seem to give good prices, but be aware that they are not authorised dealers so may not offer the same bonuses (like the breadmaker) and warranties as major retailers:
www.pricebeaters.com.au (can pick up if you live in Sydney)
www.yourhomedepot.com.au (they price match)
http://www.cheapbargains.com.au/ (price match)

Do call around electrical stores for price matching. By the time you've called around a few stores, the price would be almost as cheap as these unauthorised online shops and you have a peace of mind with better more trusted customer support.

I considered getting the Kitchenaid from www.appliancesurplus.com.au. DON'T! One shop I visited told me that they've had customers tell them that they never received their products, and there is no contact number or address for you to chase them up and they ignored emails re: missing orders.

If you're considering a Kitchenaid, their prices have been set to increase by 10% starting 1st Nov 2010. Shops are still selling off remaining stock at the old price, but once they've sold them all, prices will go up. So if you're considering a KA, now's the time to get it!

Happy mixer hunting!!


Mira said...

So glad you got the Kenwood! You will not regret it!!! I got the Kenwood Chef KM003 a couple of years ago from my husband as an anniversary gift. It was a limited edition - picked out by none other than the MOTH himself. How does a lucky lady get such a generous gift for her anniversary, you may ask??? I mentioned that I would love either a Kenwood Chef or ballroom dancing lessons with him for our anniversary. He went out that night and bought the cake mixer. I also have a liquidiser now and am hoping Santa replaces my ancient and now broken food processor with a Kenwood attachment. Desperately want the ice-cream attachment too. Love it love it love it!!!!
P.S. thank you for mentioning the flexi-whatever-it's called. I only bake for my kiddies (and me) so I have the time and patience to keep scraping down the sides, but the flexi-ma-thingy would certainly make things easier.

Mon said...

Great post, really informative. I too had the Sunbeam Pro and the motor putted out on me 4 months after getting it, so I upgraded to a KitchenAid Artisan. I've had it a year now and I'm still in love with it!
But if anyone is interested in upgrading this is a great post to read. Thanks!

richard said...

A month or two ago my wife's Kenwood died. Very sad. Would have been 40+ years old, being a wedding present to her mum. Gears had finally worn out so would have been an expensive repair I suspect. Needed a new bowl and whisk in any case, so went looking for a replacement, and was tempted by the Kenwood Eon KM006 for the 6.7l bowl, but the package with all the kit including the breadmaker won us over. Have had a breadmaker before and they're good, but will probably just use it to make dough. Anyhow it's been about three days and my wife has made about a dozen cakes and is very happy with it. On the weekend I might even make some marshmallow!

Wendy said...

Hello! I really appreciate the thorough review. I am really tempted to get one now after reading this. Would be great if you can give a quick update re the mixer. Assuming you've used it quite a bit, are you still very happy with it? Any faults at all? Thanks. :)

The Cupcake Gallery said...

This is what I've found with the Kenwood so far:
- flip top lid on the splash guard is great! because despite the splashguard, if you're adding ingredients mid-spin, stuff will still come flying out the opening. However, the splashguard can be a bit wobbly and fall down when you lift the beater up.
- Kenwood is smart, they never include everything you need in one package, so you have to buy extras. A bowl with a handle would be sooo good as I have trouble holding the bowl to pour and scrape the bowl without getting batter all over myself, and the flexi-beater is a must.
- Despite the bowl being bigger than my Sunbeam mixer, I actually can't fit as much in without the batter coming up over the mixing tool and getting into the spinning mechanism. Flour and batter then get stuck where it shouldn't making it a pain to clean.
- Power is great. I only need to use a 3 out of 7 to mix cake batter.
- Creams butter really well! Takes no time at all.
- You'll still need to open it up and scrape the bowl every once in a while if you're mixing a full bowl as the beater doesn't really reach up to the top of the bowl, but then again what mixer has a beater that does that?

Hope that helps!

Wendy said...

Thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed reply. My main concern would be the power, but you've just given a plus to it. I think I am sold. :)

Tony said...

I splurged for the Breville Planetary Mixer but I am starting to wonder if Good Guys didn't lie to me.

The girl I bought it from told me the KMC510 didn't have planetary action, could you confirm?

THanks :)

The Cupcake Gallery said...

Hi Tony,
The KMC510 does indeed have planetary action. As far as I understand, 'planetary action' is where it has one beater that spins while the whole motor spins around the bowl and the bowl stays stationary, as opposed to the ones with twin beaters where the bowl need to spin too. As far as I have learnt from my research, if it has one big beater, it's a planetary mixer.

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kczenitsuj said...

Hi! I am deliberating between a few mixers, and lucky for me I came across your post! It was very informative, especially as I was going to go for the Breville mixer, but like you said, am not familiar with this brand! Mum's generation still sticks to Kenwood!!
Would just like to know how your Kenwood is going? Am considering buying this same model! =)

Lisa said...

Thank you so much for detailed posts - massive help! My only gripe was no handle on the bowl...

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Adriarne said...

Thank you for your detailed reviews on these mixers. I am at the stage of deciding between them all. Originally thinking of going to Breville but have swayed me due to minimal reviews so far. Just need to decided between price of KA and KMix. How is your Kenwood now?

Anonymous said...

I just bought the Kenwood KMC510 this week. I got the mincer attachment and scraper beater in the box, and they currently also have a redemption offer (until sometime in January 2013, I think), where you get a glass blender/liquidiser, a continuous juice extraction attachment, and a mini chopper/mill (it's called something along the lines of a 'juicing and blending pack'). I'm VERY happy with it so far.

Dave said...

Breville is a wonderful Australian brand that has been around since 1932. They are innovators, creating the first scissor action sandwich toaster, and their electric juicer was so revolutionary it accounts for 20% of total world sales for this product. Consequently many other companies have copied their design. The Kitchen Wizz was invented in 1977, again, hardly an unknown brand. Even Oprah owns their products!

Steve said...

Just got the Kmix in red for £269 which includes a free stand alone £129 blender/liquidiser and it has a scraper beater included as well, so 4 tools. and... wowo it's brilliant!

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Jojo said...

I am about to buy this mixer from good guys. Just wanted to know how is it going so far? Is it good for kneading dough? My main use will be dough kneading that's why I am a bit concerned. TIA