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.
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...
- 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
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
I really liked the look of this one! It was sleek and looked well built.
- 500w motor
- Option of colours for an extra cost
- 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.
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
- 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.
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.
- 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
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!!