The stand mixer is an exceptionally popular kitchen appliance at present, only aided by programmes like the Great British Bake Off.
The Incredible Value = Belt Driven Motor
This one is the Andrew James 5.2L Food Mixer - a budget mixer priced at just £83.79. By comparison to some of its well known competitors it is generally less than a third of the price. Regardless of price, it has a hefty 1500 watt motor, and we've done some research and couldn't find a more powerful motor in a household kitchen mixer. However the motor isn't directly driven, it's belt driven. This means that power is lost through the friction of the belt spinning. A clear cost saving tactic that the likes of KitchenAid and Kenwood don't follow and instead they use direct-drive motors, meaning all power is devoted to mixing.
The Andrew James 5.2L Mixer is available in four colours: silver, black, classic cream and red, which ours is in. The mixer's rugged plastic body is very rounded and our glossy red variant makes it look retro 50s, which we enjoy. Its speed dial and bowl are silver and are a contrast to the main exterior body. This is definitely a very stylish kitchen appliance. It's compact too, and should fit snugly on kitchen work surfaces underneath the cupboards.
Bowl & Attachments
The large high grade stainless steel bowl (dishwasher safe) has a capacity for 5.2 litres of liquid and 2kg of mixture, which is a hefty capacity and will suit families brilliantly. The bowl locks into the mixer to enable a secure fit when mixing. Included with the mixer are four mixing attachments; these are an aluminium dough hook, aluminium beater, stainless steel balloon whisk and a plastic beater with silicone edges which can scrape the sides and combine all the mixture within the bowl. Also bundled with the mixer is an Andrew James 128 page cookbook and silicone spatula. Those who enjoy licking the bowl will dislike the spatula because it works very effectively in removing mixture to the very depth of the stainless steel bowl.
Modes & Performance
The Andrew James 5.2L Mixer has six speed settings and the option of pulse mode too. The modes are selectable via a rotatable knob and the simplicity of this design does make it a very accessible appliance for all age groups. Operational noise is fairly loud and incrementally gets louder with each increase in speed setting. We found the sheer power of the mixer impressive, and good suction grips on the base keep the mixer secure when mixing so it doesn't jump around. We thoroughly tested the 1500 watt motor by making cookie doughs, bread doughs, brownies, sauces and other similar mixtures. It proved itself to be very strong, coping with sticky dense mixtures whilst also outputting a fast mixing speed. However when trying to mix smaller quantities, the dough hook and whisk didn't get close enough to the bottom of the bowl, resulting in frustrating unmixed ingredients. When mixing is finished, the small metal lever located next to the speed dial will raise the top half of the machine into the air allowing easy removal of the bowl. And it also makes equipping different attachments easy too, with all attachments quickly interchanged via a simple twist release mechanism.
Those using electric mixers such as this one for the first time will likely discover that the way they mix ingredients changes, because recipes sometimes like to unnecessarily combine specific ingredients incrementally to make it easier for the person mixing by hand. When using the mixer we now frequently find ourselves throwing the ingredients in all at once and it usually works with no hiccups. However, when making certain recipes like breads and cakes, you may need to add fruits, nuts, chocolate, etc., during the mixing process, which you can do easily via a cutout in the splash guard. The detachable splash guard makes sure your kitchen doesn't get messy and with the speeds this mixer can reach it's very necessary.
Times Saving Benefits
Some bakers and cooks don't like the loss of the hands-on experience, but the amount of time and energy saved by using a mixer like this is a very persuasive reason to get one for most people. For instance, a bread dough that may require 10-15 minutes of kneading, may only take 3-5 minutes in the Andrew James 5.2L Food Mixer. We've found the quality of the mix the Andrew James performs is smoother than mixing by hand, and the silicone beater manages to reach the sides of the bowl, so we don't have to scrape it manually, some attachments may not reach the sides of the bowl if the mixture doesn't pull the ingredients into the mix like dough would. A chocolate chip cookie recipe frequently made by us tasted better than ever - it was noticeably smoother in texture when we used this mixer.
The likes of KitchenAid have nothing to fear from this plastic Andrew James mixer when it comes to build and operational design. However the Andrew James 5.2L Food Mixer definitely offers good value for money as far as budget kitchen appliances go. Its motor (whilst loud & a bit squeaky) is powerful and it excels in producing a good quality mix, it's simple to operate, fully equipped with accessories that don't feel cheap and is reasonably stylish too.