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Way back in April 2004 I bought a second hand mixer for my mum and it didn't last despite its technological design having a removable flap at the back which gave it a hand blender blade attachment along with the whisks at the other end. In 2000 four years beforehand mum's trusty mixer to hand was a Moulinex which had been purchased from Woolworths to replace a 30 year old Philips hand mixer that had seen better days, even though it still runs to this day, the weight of 4kg against modern day rivals like the Kenwood goes to show just how light and easy components have come so far. At first my mum wasn't bothered what she wanted; but she wanted something that she could rely on and with our tin opener, food processor, larger table mixer and water jug all carrying the Kenwood name, it made sense to consider a hand mixer by Kenwood since Moulinex products as a brand in the U.K are still hard to come by, despite being originally from France.
Kenwood As A Brand
Kenwood have been making kitchen food preparation machines for about 50 years when their first Chef design came onto the market in the 1950's and followed by the "Cheffette," which was a smaller, compact kitchen hand mixer on a stand with a geared moving bowl. This model, though absent by the geared bowl and stand is in someway a sister to the old Cheffette and by now Kenwood should know what they are doing when it comes to general design and performance.
These days hand mixers in terms of brands are becoming scarce probably due to the fact that supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsburys have models which are cheap, cheerful and do the same job. However, my own experiences with an Argos Value mixer and before that, Hinari which both lasted 3 to 5 years before burning out has taught me a thing or two when it makes more sense to go with a reputable brand - and importantly, NOT all hand mixers have stainless steel beaters that can additionally stand up to the abuse of cleaning in a dishwasher. A few cheaply priced kitchen hand mixers nowadays come with chrome beaters that flake off into food prep which is a general disaster as the beaters can't be replaced with stainless steel ones unless the brand are forced to, under investigation.
Many Models - But Go White If The Price Is Right
In terms of models, the HM series from Kenwood sometimes lead to motor wattage but don't go thinking that the HM320 comes with 320 watts. The maximum wattage that this kitchen mixer is equipped with is 250 watts maximum. The "black plastic" chrome Kenwood HM326 has the same motor but the chrome look means plenty of polishing to keep it free from scrapes and finger marks.
Nar2's Quick Skip Review Product Features
• 250 Max wattage. • Hand held only, no stand equipped. • 2 Types of beaters supplied, stainless steel and both dishwasher safe. • Storage insert supplied for tools. • Neat, compact design with added
Pictures of Kenwood HM 320
More expensive HM326 has the same motor but you pay for the exterior duo coating.
handle bend for cord wrap. • Can stand on its own. • Thermal cut out (10-15 minute waiting time) • BEAB Approved. * Sizing: 19cm height by 8cm width by 14D • Just under 1kg weight for the main machine body. • 3 speeds of power. • Priced around £19-99 (2011) and available at Argos, John Lewis, Comet, Currys etc as well as online.
One of the aspects that is very noticeable about the Kenwood hand mixer isn't just the most obvious of the design and its advantages. The first two speeds are probably the most used when it comes to whisking and kneading thanks to the fact that the speeds are well spaced out, and no need to really use the third one unless meringues are being made, or cake mix needs to be folded before slowing down again to the first and second selections and such like. The first and second speeds of power are a lot more noticeable, particularly if making a light pancake mix or similar - to start off with the Kenwood does a great job getting all the ingredients mixed in round bowls - nothing ever gets missed thanks to the design of the whisks. The whisks and dough beaters are individually made from stainless steel but they are very robust and can take a fair knocking but from the start the dough beaters have an unusual design to them - one beater in particular has a metal ring set half way up its spindle, whereas the other one doesn't - this means that there is only way the beaters can enter the channels on the motor. Luckily the steel whisks don't have this additional ring, and you can add any of the whisk beaters into any of the two holes on the machine below the motor. Like so many who have copied Kenwood, it's a case of pushing the spines in until they click and even after six years of ownership, the beaters still make a clicking sound to show that they are locked into the mixer.
Using speeds 2 and 3 are the best selections for cake mix, whereas speed 1 is ideal for whisking eggs. Kneading is very easy even with the strange twisted dough hooks, speed 1 being the best for slow, continuous progress. Speed 3 is too high simply for whisking and beating up egg yolks, but if you do try, make sure your bowl is a deep walled affair, otherwise when mixing at an angle, splashes will be apparent - which is no fault of the mixer.
What I do appreciate about the Kenwood mixer is that it so much easier than using the food processor option, or getting out the larger Chef table mixer. The performance and design of the whisk beaters are far better than the motor geared whisk attachment on my mum's Kenwood Gourmet food processor. What I adore about the Kenwood HM320 is the handle - I can lock two fingers around the top of the handle near the controls to keep grasp of the mixer - without having to naturally add more hand fatigue by placing my whole hand on the mixer as the design intends - whilst the open space is large enough for just about any size of hands.
Heat wise, after continual whisking for about 10 to 15 minutes, the machine starts to get warm but not enough to put the mixer down. The handle isn't rubber coated at all, but it curves into the machine which allows it to be held comfortably and thanks to the controls being set in the middle at the top of the handle, you can use this on either hand, if you are left or right handed.
Noise wise, the Kenwood mixer is pretty quiet until the third speed is selected and expect a bit more whine than usual.
Controls & Quality
Simplicity is the key here, and as I've mentioned already, the main speed control is a slider located at the top of the handle, which has a window just above the main slide button to indicate which speeds are obtainable. Speed 1 is quite slow, speed 2 fast and speed 3 quite brisk. Kenwood have made the selections electronically precise - i.e. the machine won't hesitate or stop working half way when you gear down a speed.
It's just a shame that it takes a hefty push of the finger to select the next speed and it does it with a nasty sounding "click" which is something I don't personally like on any kitchen mixer. The last thing you need is to forget what you are doing when you're mixing and folding in a cake mix and there have been times when the audible click detracts my attention! There is no instant pulse button either which limits instant whisking and mixing when required.
One other button is located at the top of the machine above the slider power button and this is the lock to release the beaters. Now I must stress here that this lock is quite ingenious, because it fits flush seated within the plastic of the main handle when the beaters are taken out, and pops up a little when the beaters are installed. If however you switch on the machine without the beaters, the mixer cannot be used unless the beaters have been installed. This button completely locks up the mixer incase it falls into younger inexperienced hands - a fantastic idea!
One of the reasons to why I've recommended the Kenwood hand mixer over the years is the way it has been designed and when it comes to safety. We've only experienced the Kenwood hand mixer cut out when I overused it for an hour kneading particularly heavy dough when I should have known better! Whilst the handle will become warm when overused, compared to the supermarket brands I've owned, the Kenwood HM320 has a fairly well built motor with a thermal cut out and lesser cool down time. This is because the only ventilation on the mixer is sat right at the front -past experience has shown that cake mix and other food particles can gunge up the rear, but on this model this will not be a problem - the holes at the rear of this Kenwood have been suitably designed to be put away from the least eventuality that food could gunge up the ventilation, thus lessening the chance of burning out the motor. The holes are located on the base of the mixer where it can stand up on its side, rather like the design of many a dry or steam iron.
This product is also BEAB approved and it comes with a fitted fused plug.
There is only one aspect which I don't like about this mixer and that is the additional storage insert which holds the beaters together. Whilst this is a good idea in general, the insert is made of white rubber and fits into the channels where the beaters go into the machine. More often than not, the beaters won't actually sit on the rubber connections unless you press firmly into the rubber. And, just like the dough beaters, this rubber insert which can helpfully be prised off the base gently, has nibs which can only take one part of each beater at a time. Already we have discarded the use of putting the beaters into this storage insert, and use the storage insert to cover up the channels so that dirt can't enter.
The power cord, all 1.5 metres of it is enough for me or any other family member using the appliance and the excess cord can wrap itself around the base of the handle when not required.
Kenwood have also included a small clip onto the cord where the plug can be clipped - again like many a dry or steam iron. Again past experience has shown me that these clips can get brittle with age and snap off.
General Fit & Finish
The Kenwood is very soft and smooth, but at the same time, what is more appealing is that it actually does what it says on the tin and depending on how you treat it, the Kenwood will last a long time - we've even kept the box it came in so that it always has a place. The manual for the mixer is informative too, with basic key points to let consumers know which part goes where and general maintenance. Kenwood also include a parts guide for any future purchase if anything gets lost. The buttons aren't particularly smooth but they do move with precision and if that's all that matters to the main cook in the house, who am I to argue?
Dishwasher Safe Beaters or Not?
A word to the wise; other reviews of this product online seems to indicate that the plastic beaters on this model cracks in the dishwasher. The beaters on this model do not have any plastic contained on the stainless steel beaters. However the connections to the main beater bars have a rubber insert between the wire whisks to the spine which by my reckoning since been put in the top rack of our dishwashers many times, have yet to crack. The manual for the product does state that the beaters and dough hooks are dishwasher safe. Anything else which gets onto the motor (which obviously isn't dishwasher safe) must be wiped down with a damp clean cloth.