I recently decided to try out the Kenwood Chef against my beloved Kitchen Aid to see how I thought the two machines would compare. I was really keen to give this a go.
Kitchen Aid stand mixers seem to be so popular and have been for many years. They are a lifestyle choice for so many people. What does it say about you and your kitchen to have a snazzy top of the range mixer permanently gracing your kitchen counter? Sounds silly, but I think lots of people see it this way – they can’t be taken seriously as a keen home cook without one, perhaps? I have to say though; they are a complete lifesaver for professional bakers and keen cooks just like me. The stand mixer has completely revolutionized the way I cook, which has been great for me and so many others. Hands free cake and bread making really does speed up the amount of time spent in the kitchen, and especially if, like me, you are in there all day most days, that can make such a difference to your day.
Prejudices well and truly cast aside, I set about choosing my recipe. I was really in the mood for some good granary bread, so here is the recipe I used:
Makes 1 loaf
- 500g Organic granary bread flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. yeast
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 300ml warm water
- 2 tsp. sunflower oil
1) Preheat the oven to 200C
2) Place all the dry ingredients in the bowl of the stand mixer
3) Whisk the oil into the water
4) Pour the water into the bowl of the stand mixer and mix with the dough hook on the stand mixer to combine. I set both machines to run on speed 2 until all the flour was worked into the dough
5) Leave the dough to rise in a warm place for an hour, in the mixer bowl, covered with cling film
6) After an hour, place the bowls back onto the stand mixers and knead the dough on speed 2 for 5 minutes
7) Then cover the dough again and leave for 30 minutes to rise
8) Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled baking sheet and shape. I made mine into cottage loaves with one ball placed on top of the dough, and a hole pressed through the centre using a chunky wooden spoon handle.
9) Bake for 40 minutes
Here are my observations:
- The Kenwood’s motor does seem more robust. My Kitchen Aid does sound and feel a bit clunky. Although it is a very heavy machine, it does feel as though the motor is not as robust as you may imagine for such a solid machine. I felt as though I could turn the Kenwood up higher without worrying it might break, which I do with the Kitchen Aid
- The splash guard for the Kenwood does come with a flap, which you are able to open and close whilst adding additional ingredients to the mixer whilst the motor is running. The splash guard is an invaluable feature of the Kitchen Aid, particularly when working with lots of flour or icing sugar, as it does tend to coat everything else in the kitchen even with the splash guard on, so I like this idea.
- The attachments for the Kenwood feel really robust and are slightly easier to attach to the machine than with the Kitchen Aid
- I found the Kitchen Aid slightly easier to clean, as there are fewer nooks and crannies to get muck into when baking
- The Kenwood did appear to work slightly harder than the kitchen aid, and worked the dough more quickly, even though visually both mixers appeared to be working at the same speed
- I remain convinced that the Kitchen Aid is the most visually attractive mixer. Given the frequency of use in my home and the weight of the machine, I always keep it out on the work surface, and I have to say, the Kitchen Aid looks more attractive to me.
For me, there really was very little difference in how the machines performed. I hate to sit on the fence so to speak, but the differences were so minor, it really comes down to which machine you think would work better for you.
In terms of taste and texture, both breads came out pretty much the same. I clearly did not make my cottage loaves in the correct proportions given the topple factor, however, I would give the edge to Kenwood – the flavour and texture are ever so slightly nicer. I used the exact same ingredients for both loaves and baked them on the same shelf of the oven simultaneously.
The one big difference though, is cost. I should add that the Kenwood Chef does come with other attachments too, it is not just a stand mixer, so it does all sorts of jobs you could not do with the Kitchen Aid. Where I have two or three machines, you only need one with the Kenwood.
So, what do you think? Which machine do you use, if any, and which one do you prefer?
Here are the prices and links to the websites I have used to compare the price of the machines:
Kitchen Aid £429.95
I should add that since I tested the machines, I spent three months at Ballymaloe Cookery School on the Certificate Course. There, they use Kenwoods, and I used them regularly throughout my time their. My feeling is that the motor on the Kenwood is much stronger and powerful, but the Kitchen Aid is easier to use – I prefer the controls to set the speed and the latch to lift on the Kitchen Aid.