Last year we started a new tradition for Theo. He has an August birthday, so misses out on taking treats in to school for his classmates, so instead, as he was born in Scotland, he celebrates St Andrews Day with Saltire themed cupcakes.
This seemed like a great idea in principle, but last year’s baking attempt was a bit of a disaster! The cakes rose with a little mound in the middle and the thin icing I attempted all ran to the edges leaving naked cracked cupcake mountains. It was not the Pinterest worthy moment I had been dreaming of!
With the end of November started looming again this year, I was wondering how to overcome last year’s obstacles when AO.com stepped in and offered me a Kenwood Chef to review. I’ve considered purchasing a stand mixer for years, but I wasn’t sure they were really worth the money or the space on the worktop. The St Andrews cupcake challenge seemed like the perfect opportunity to find out if they were…
First of all I should say that the Kenwood Chef is so much more than just a cake mixer. There are 15 different attachments which turn it into a variety of kitchen gadgets, from icecream maker to mincer and blender. Of course the attachments are extra (about £50 each) but that enables you to choose the ones you will actually use instead of having a cupboard full of spare parts and of course brings the initial purchase price down too.
My first test of the Kenwood was actually several days before the cake making, using the dough hook. I make almost all my bread by hand, but occasionally it’s nice to be able to hand the hard labour over to someone (or something) else while I get on with other things. It made easy work of it, generated no extra washing up and the resulting loaf was pretty good. The only thing that would stop me using it for doing all our bread making, is that I normally make 1kg of dough at a time, which is more than this machine can handle.
With the cupcakes, there were two parts I wanted to use it for, the cake mix and the butter icing. I used one of Mary Berry’s cupcake recipes which simply asks for all the ingredients to be added in one go, perfect for using the stand mixer. In they went, I switched it on and wandered off to do something else for a few minutes. My hand mixer normally flicks ingredients everywhere, but the Kenwood has a splash guard… brilliant!
The cakes came out of the oven looking perfect, almost too perfect…like the kind you buy in a supermarket! Not sure how much of that was Mary Berry and how much was the Kenwood, but I suspect very little was me!
When the cakes had cooled I also used the Kenwood to make the butter icing. On previous occasions I have made the mistake of trying to combine butter and icing sugar by hand and it’s really hard work, the mixer (as you would expect) made light work of it and when I added food colouring that spread evenly into the mix too.
In fact the hardest part of the entire process was piping the finished icing onto the cupcakes, because I’d been able to be a bit lazy, I hadn’t let the butter warm up enough and though the mixer had mixed it, I didn’t have the muscles to pipe it! I ended up sticking it in the microwave for 10 seconds to warm it up!
As for the results, I think they speak for themselves. It seems like the less hands on involvement I have with cupcake making the better the results. Theo’s teacher is probably going to think I’m a domestic goddess… little does she know!
If you’d like to know more about the Kenwood, my review is below and you can buy the Kenwood Chef XL from ao.com