And the winner is – not the KA!
I was wrong when I said that my new KitchenAid Classic was close to my Kenwood Chef Classic in size. Well, it sort of is, but a design snafu deprives it of a lot of capacity compared to the Chef. On the Chef, the tools plug into a socket on the planetary head. On the KA a shaft protrudes a couple of inches downwards from the planetary head, so that the tools sit very much lower, below the bowl rim, considerably reducing its capacity.
In addition, despite being universally described as powerful, or even very powerful, they’re actually not – that’s rubbish.
The Classic has a 275Watt motor, against the Chef’s 800Watt – how is that powerful? Yet I allowed myself to be sucked in by all the people you’ll find online, even pro chefs presumably so full of themselves they’ve lost touch with the reality of these things, suggesting this little fuckers virtually have the power of a Mack truck! It’s almost a bloody toy, FFS! Well, it is for anyone who takes bread-making seriously, at least, and who wants to make more than one loaf at a time. And, of course, if you overload it the previously-mentioned frangible pinion in the gear train will self-destruct! As it’s designed to – but it still leaves you with a dead mixer.
For size comparison purposes, here’s a pic of the mixer with my boots, size 43 (9 in real money). Does that look large and powerful to you? Quite.
My standard loaf mix has 1.1kg of bread flour, for 2 loaves, well within the Chef’s 1.35kg flour capacity. The KA, though, has a capacity of a mere 0.81kg of wholemeal flour** – which probably means it’ll take quite a bit less of the denser, higher-gluten bread flour.***
**The clear assumption, stated in the manual, is that anyone using this thing to make bread will be using “all-purpose” flour, or wholemeal – NOT strong bread flour. That’s crap.
***I’d read on a particular website – the information is no longer there! – that the KA had a flour capacity of 2kg. None of them do, not even the largest commercial model, the K5, which take 1kg of wholemeal and, again, the assumption is that strong bread flour will not be used.
So, for anyone that wants to make more than one loaf at a time, and probably not use strong bread flour, this thing is a non-starter. And yet the thing is immensely popular with bread-makers – either they have staggeringly low expectations, or they realise it’s really rubbish but won’t admit that they, like me, have been bamboozled by bullshit.
All of which is a great pity, as I really wanted to like the KA – I just love the design – but it’s way too small and way too weak and feeble. Sorry, all you KA fans, but that’s the bottom line.
So that still left me in need of a new machine and, apart from brands I’d never heard of, that meant Kenwood. The larger, heavier, top-end machines are more than my budget will bear, but Amazon had the Kenwood Chef Silver Premier and £159.99.** It’s essentially the same as the Chef Classic, but with a slightly different shape, a new paint job, and – this is the important bit – a 1000 Watt motor. A 25% hike in power over my current Chef, though, mysteriously, it has the same capacity. Still, it should get me past the feeling I have with mine that it’s straining all the time – and as I said, making ominous noises.
**Or I could have it in white for £290 – go figure!
My current mixer is making groaning noises from the drive train, as I’ve mentioned, and also I noticed, using it today, that the planetary head sounds gritty. I don’t see how – even if flour had got in there, it wouldn’t make any untoward noises, so once I have the replacement machine – scheduled for Saturday but more likely Monday, I suspect – I’ll take the old one apart and see what can be done. Hopefully it just needs lubing, in which case I’ll then box it up and stash it away until such time s the new one needs servicing, then swap them and service the new one. (The reason why it vibrates, by the way, and the KA doesn’t, is that the planetary head of the Chef has a greater diameter than the KA, and also the dough hook is very much heavier, putting more energy into the mixer as they rotate, causing it to vibrate, and to transmit those forces to the trolley which, being on casters, shuffles about. The bigger and heavier motor possibly contributes too.
Always assuming – the usual caveat these days – I’m still here.
Finally, one thing more about the KA mixer that would have had me sending it back anyway. Obviously, I’ve run the thing to make sure it works, and to adjust the tool height properly – supposed to be done at the factory, never seems to be – and it drops sharp, white, fragments into the bowl. Not a lot, but that’s not really the point. Presumably these are fragments of the white powder-coating, or enamel, whatever it is. Probably harmless, possibly toxic, I really have no idea, but I do know I don’t want it in my bread.