During the three months that I spent at Ballymaloe Cookery School, I saw Kenwood mixers – the workhorses of the kitchen – put up a lot of punishment. Mixing cakes from morning to night? Not a bother. Making the finest mashed potatoes known to cookery school? In minutes.
Kneading bread dough was just another easily-tackled job even when, one memorable morning, it was a brioche dough and the energy of the mixer kneaded itself right off the worktop. We picked it up, plugged it back in – and it continued to work the dough.
The only problem that I had with the Kenwood was how it looked. In a small cottage kitchen, a mixer has to live on the worktop. I wanted something a little more stylish so I ended up getting a KitchenAid.
Then Kenwood Ireland gave me the opportunity to test drive their kMix stand mixer and now I could be converted. With a sleek, retro-styled black/grey body containing a 500W motor and large stainless steel bowl, it’s a good-looking beast of a machine, which I am more than happy to have sitting out on display.
Looks aside, it’s been getting a good work out over the last week. Its arrival co-incided with a review copy of Annabel Langbein‘s The Free Range Cook landing on my desk. It didn’t stay there for long. Last Monday, Little Missy and I tried a Blackcurrant Crumble Cake, adapted from her Blueberry Crumble Cake. On Wednesday I made what Annabel calls her Ultimate Chocolate Cake as a special treat for the Eight Degrees Brewing boys and my weekend visitors were treated to a nectarine, plum and almond version of the Vanilla Plum Cake.
Little Missy has been fascinated by the mixer, gazing at it, hypnotised, as it effortlessly creams butter into sugar while I get on with weighing out everything else. For that alone I have to give it full credit – child-distracting is a very useful skill around here! On the work side, the kMix is brilliant. Solid and strong, it didn’t splash ingredients around the counter – the bane of my life – and I especially love the folding in setting. There’s a video about the kMix here where you can see all the attachments and colours available. The raspberry looks good…
I had the opportunity to use the kMix for a month thanks to Weber Shandwick, PR company for Kenwood.
Annabel Langbein’s Ultimate Chocolate Cake
Butter – 200g, softened
Boiling hot coffee – 250mls
Self-raising flour – 375g
Muscovado sugar – 500g
Vanilla extract – 1½ teaspoons
Cocoa powder – 75g
Natural yoghurt – 250mls
Eggs – 3 large
Chocolate ganache icing:
Dark chocolate – 500g, roughly broken
Cream – 500g
Preheat the oven to 160°C (150°C fanbake). If you have a 30cm cake tin, grease and line the base of it. If not, you can use 2 x 20cm round cake tins or, as I did, use a 23cm round tin and a 1lb loaf tin.
Put the butter and boiling hot coffee in the bowl of your mixer or food processor, then add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well until no streaks or blobs of butter can be seen.
Transfer to tin or tins. Bake the 30cm cake for about an hour, the smaller cakes for between 40-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes clean. Cool on a wire rack before icing with chocolate ganache…
To make the icing, heat the cream in a large pan almost to boiling point. Add the broken chocolate, allow to stand for a few minutes, then stir well until all amalgamated. Allow to cool until spreadable then cover the cake/s.
Serve with fresh raspberries. Serves at least 16 people – or a couple of very hungry brewers.