Mixing it…

As regular readers will know, I make my own bread and, for the last year or so have had to use a Kenwood Chef Classic to do the grunt work (mixing and kneading). Deeply unimpressed to find that, used just once a week for bread (making two 2lb loaves), and again, very recently, for muffins, it’s now making ominous graunching noises, especially when mixing dough.

I’ve tried dribbling food-grade oil into the very few access points, but any improvement is short-lived. If it fails, there’s no bread, so I’ve taken the plunge and ordered a KitchenAid K45SS Classic, on offer at Amazon for £249.99 (£70 off and free delivery**). That will enable me to try to dismantle the Chef and see if it can be fixed/lubed/whatever. If so, I’ll stash it away as a spare. Trouble is the case is plastic, which is never good news for either longevity or easy maintenance (the KitchenAid is all metal, screwed together, so (relatively), easy to take apart).

**Now £12.50 cheaper, which seriously pisses me off!

The K45 (SS indicates a stainless steel bowl), is rated for semi-commercial use, so should be robust, is allegedly silent, and has a much slower minimum speed – 58rpm – than the Chef, good for me as the Chef churns up a cloud of flour, as soon as it’s turned on, when making bread which does my breathing no good at all (the bowl cover, which would obviate that, is a pain in the neck to use, having a too-small access hole).

The KitchenAid 90th Anniversary Limited Edition Artisan mixer, in Candy Apple Red, is probably the best-looking mixer ever. Absurdly expensive, though, at £399 (Amazon).

However, there’s a downside, in that it has that stupid glass bowl. Not only is that heavier than the standard stainless steel bowl, it’s a damned sight more fragile. Personally, though I’ve never dropped my steel mixer bowl, I have banged it against the taps occasionally (ME/CFS makes me clumsy and, after years of regularly replacing crockery, I now use polycarbonate crockery, originally liberated from my now unused backpacking kit), and I have serious doubts about the long-term survivability of a glass bowl – like glass pan lids, a seriously dumb idea (who among us hasn’t picked up a pan lid, realised that it’s too hot and dropped it smartly – something that glass really doesn’t like).

Finally, KitchenAid mixers are amenable to home maintenance – here’s a how-to guide for lubrication. Just be sure not to damage or lose any parts. Spares are available from Sears (possibly somewhere closer to the UK, too – info should be with the mixer when it arrives!), but are insanely expensive, like £3 and up for a simple washer!

That, though, might be something of a problem, due to the design of the KA mixers. They are direct, rather than belt, drive, and in the gear train is a frangible pinion. This is designed, in the event that the mixer is overloaded, to self-destruct, rather than have the motor burn out (a shear-pin would have been a simpler, more easily replaced solution). Used properly, of course, the machine shouldn’t overload. Its flour capacity is 2kg, and my normal mix for two 2lb loaves is 1.1kg of flour so, in theory, it should be bomb-proof. However, as the frangible pinion is plastic on a steel core,** I strongly suspect that it has a limited lifespan, and buying a spare might be a good idea – a more reasonable $20 or so.

**NB: Some people online think that the plastic gear housing causes this pinion to fail – it does not, it’s designed to fail if overloaded, and the housing isn’t relevant. I’ve read that it can fail if you just give it a hard look, but as many people routinely abuse machinery, as much through ignorance as anything else – RTFM, folks! – I’ll reserve judgement.

The gear problem, and fix, is discussed here, though there are better pics in the how-to guide, above. Two different models, as you can see, but the innards are the same, as they are with all KA mixers – only the motor power varies, and the body style (either conventional tilt, or bowl-lift).

I’m still waiting for mine to be delivered, which is why I officially hate Amazon. Or, rather their courier company, Yodel, at least. (Partly my own fault for opting for free delivery which, in retrospect, is a tad pointless – having just spent £249, balking at another £8 is a bit futile. I tried to change it within seconds, but it wasn’t possible.)

I’ve been tracking the package, from Edinburgh, for 4 days so far (since 00.00 on the 27th) – I’ve had stuff delivered from Padua, in Italy, faster! – watching it as it slowly ground its way from Edinburgh to Wrexham, where it arrived at 04.48 yesterday and from where, I naturally assumed, it would be delivered to me. Yeah, right!

At 01.48 today it was, apparently, transferred to another courier, so now I have no way to track it at all. Is this other courier in the process of delivering it? Or are they, as seems par for the course with this delivery,  going to sit on it for 24 hours first? I have no idea.

So I have to stay in all day, just in case the damn thing comes (not that I was going anywhere, anyway, it’s the principle!), which no doubt means that it will come tomorrow, while I’m out! (If I am out, that is – woke up with diarrhoea and now I have a sore throat, so not promising.)

I’ve said this before, but I get seriously hacked off when free delivery simply means my goods are artificially, and deliberately, delayed. For example, it was 52 hours and 47 minutes in transit between Edinburgh and Wednesbury – did they take it by bike?