As an interior stylist, you are informed about all sorts of new products, from the latest wallpaper or fabric from one of the companies at Chelsea Harbour Design Centre to super cool squashy sofas from Notting Hill emporium or shop openings in Shoreditch and Glasgow.
When I spotted the new Kenwood Chef ‘Sense’ (Type KVC50) food mixer Colour Collection (in four retro pastel colours: pink, yellow, pale blue and green), I had a bit of an emotional response!
The Kenwood mixer, the Rolls Royce of kitchen gadgets, sat in pride of place in our kitchen when I was a child. My big sister Fiona surprised us with beautiful little butterfly cakes using it, lemon chiffon cakes were conjured up, millionaire shortbread and all manner of wondrous confections came tumbling out of this piece of machinery.
Some of the recipes came from a (now precious) handwritten recipe book that my mother kept. It was stuffed with ideas for meals, other people’s recipes, even a promotional leaflet on how to ‘deal’ with an Avocado pear. Some of the recipes were in my father’s scrawling prescription-style handwriting – recipes he had obviously got from some of his patients – to inspire his young wife to cook! It is a treasured family document that reminds me of meals and occasions like nothing else can do.
So for Mother’s Day, I am going to take up the opportunity from Kenwood to borrow and ‘road test’ this latest version of The Kenwood Mixer and bake a cake. In my adult life, I’ve relied on an electric handheld beater for cake making. Many a wet afternoon was spent with a bored toddler getting stuck into all sorts of baking. Cake mix all around our ‘chops’ – actually, that was mainly me – and then enjoying the happy smells emanating from the oven afterwards. Bliss.
I took advice from Emma Marsden, freelance Cookery Writer/ex Cookery Editor of Good Housekeeping magazine. Emma’s experience of using a food mixer is that “they are particularly good for meringue and making bread as the beater is stronger than you can ever be”. However, Emma warned me that “the machine is only as good as the person who puts the ingredients in”.
Emma’s words were ringing in my ears as I realised I had got over-excited with the whole experience and shoved all the eggs in at once instead of the ‘bit by bit’ approach. The cake mixture curdled so badly, not even a bit of flour would put it right. So if you think that the machine will right all wrongs, it doesn’t!
I started again, put myself in ‘Zen cake baking mode’!and concentrated on exactly putting in the right amounts at the right time. This time the mixture seemed smoother than I could have made it, and it reminded me that it is quite hard work to mix by hand. The machine also acts as a base for several additional attachments which you can buy separately from food mincers to juicers, dicers and blenders.
The styling of this model hasn’t changed a great deal from the one we had but it now has a rather pleasing clear glass bowl and the on/off dial lights up! The other new feature is the clear plastic cover which sits on top of the bowl which also has a small lid so that you can pour ingredients neatly into the bowl and prevents them from flying everywhere if you accidentally turn the speed up too high (kept thinking that Will Young could have done with this cover when I saw him throwing a tea towel over his mixer on Celebrity Great British Bakeoff for Sport Relief!).
Did it save time? I am not really sure, but it was less hard work than making a cake by hand and it was fun. Even now, the machine is reassuringly sturdy in its construction and I love the fact that it is still made in Great Britain. The all-important ‘judges’ at home gave the cake a very decent ‘four 9s’ for lightness – which I reckon is pretty close to top marks.
Mother’s Day cake recipe
I doubled Delia Smith’s recommended ingredients for her Victoria Sponge recipe:
Raspberry jam for the centre of the cake and lemon butter icing for the top blended from:
- 140g/5 oz butter
- 280g/10 oz icing sugar
- zest of half a lemon
Finally, finish off with blueberries, mint leaves, edible fresh Viola flower heads and add some green gingham ribbon for presentation.
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Mothers Day directory
- John Lewis – ribbon
- Hobbycraft – ribbon
- V V Rouleaux – ribbon
- Maddocks Farm Organics – Viola plants
- Waitrose – ingredients
- Vintage White – props