* Prices may differ from that shown
For some years I had a wonderful, all singing and dancing food processor.. it gave up the ghost after about ten years and I was looking for a replacement.
I didn't have the funds to replace like for like, so I had to assess what I actually used the processor for -as I certainly missed having one. At the time I worked part time and liked to do a lot of home cooking and baking for my family and a food processor is certainly a time saving gadget.
I realised that I missed it most when it came to baking, so I started to look around for a decent mixer.
Argos has always been a brilliant store for buying pretty much everything, and this was pre-internet days in my home, so I got out the trusty old Argos catalogue and looked to see what I could buy in my budget.
What I bought was the Argos basic hand mixer, with bowl At the time I paid around £25 for the model. Today (February 2013) this model costs £29.99, but is on special offer at £19.99 and frankly it is a brilliant price for something so useful.
If you are looking for something ultra modern, chrome or stainless steel then this is not the model for you, it is - like most basic models - plain white. The colour however is absolutely fine by me, I like white gadgets, they are easy to keep clean, you can see the dirt, grime and grease on it and with a hot, well wrung out soapy cloth it is very easy to wipe clean.
The mixer attached to the bowl easily, and the bowl rotates, which is great. So you add the ingredients to the bowl and turn on the mixer to the correct speed and the motor turns the attachments at a very good speed, whilst the bowl rotates, making sure that all the mixture is thoroughly blended.
The bowl is easily removable and goes straight into the washing up bowl or dishwasher for easy cleaning.
The motor is an impressive 200 watts, which is really very powerful.
The mixer can detach from the bowl, if required and used as a hand mixer. You slot the pair of attachments into the mixer very easily, they click into place firmly so that you know they are safely in place.
The mixer comes with two different sorts of attachments, one is a whisk type and the other is a beater attachment.
Obviously this mixer does not do the same job as a processor does, but what is does is mix cake mixes, (packet mixes and recipes from scratch) pastries and liquids together perfectly.
The bowl is 2.9 litre capacity, which is a very generous bowl size.
The power of the mixer is in 5 speeds, my suggestion is to always start off your mixing at the lowest speed and then to gradually increase the speed to suit - otherwise what can happen, as has happened to many before you, is a major dust cloud all over the kitchen of flour when the whisk attachments suddenly moves the flour at a fast speed! We have all done it, at least once and you can be sure it will happen again.
The mixer has a safety lock and non slip feet, making it a safe gadget to have in the kitchen.
The chef special in our house is sponge puddings and shortbread, both made in under five minutes with the aid of my Cookworks Hand Mixer
After a rather heavy dough kneading session our rather lovely Kenwood mixer decided to give up on its life just after Christmas, we had worked it hard and it was hardly a surprise judging by the burning smells it was pumping out for a week before the event! Obviously we needed a new one as believe it or not, a lot of baking goes on in our house even though every creation turns into a disaster!
Walking past Argos the following day I spotted this rather funky looking mixer in the window display for only £12.49 which seemed a bargain that I could not refuse. It was on offer for half the price of the standard catalogue price of £24.99 and I don't believe this offer is on anymore judging from the Argos website. We picked it up and back home we went to do some baking, the box was rather large being a mixer with a bowl built in and inside we found;
* The mixer
* Bowl and stand
* Normal mixing whisks
* Bread kneading hooks
* And the instruction manual.
*** About the Cookworks hand mixer with a bowl ***
It's a rather basic looking food mixer with a bowl on a stand to allow handsfree mixing (No more aching arms for me - Yay!), it is made entirely of plastic on the outside which feels rather cheaply built (But what should I expect for being tight and spending so little on a food mixer eh?) The hand mixer itself is easy to hold and is of a good quality, the bowl however is very cheap to the touch but perfectly useable. The mixer has 5 mixing speeds and it is supplied with the standard whisks and two dough hooks for kneading dough.
Setting up the mixer was extremely quick and easy; we simply gave the bowl and the whisks a quick wash and popped it all together. We were ready to make our Victoria sponge within a matter of minutes and it was simple, easy and initially seemed a good enough quality and value for money.
*** Using the mixer ***
In went the ingredients one by one as the mixer purred away, it is rather quiet in use but it does have that slightly cheap 'ringing' noise that is heard from some lesser quality food mixers. I believe this is the gearbox but hey, it works! The mixer seemed to be doing a good job at first but I soon realised that it was losing power and my cake batter was sticking to the inside of the whisks and slowing the motor down. A quick flick of the speed switch to full power slightly rectified the problem but I still was not impressed with the power. The cake mixture was hardly thick and the lack of power with this mixer was instantly noticed. As soon as I pulled it from the mix, the motor sped up to full power so I popped it back in and MMMERRRRRRR! The motor slowed down sufficiently to reduce the mixing process once again. It seems to me that the mixing whisks are badly designed to allow the substance being mixed to stick inside the whisk or it could just be a general lack of motor power.
Don't get me wrong, I did manage to make my cake in the end and it has not got so little power that it cannot actually mix the ingredients together, it does mix them but it just takes longer and it can be frustrating! I thought mine might have been faulty but my grandmother had spotted this bargain in Argos also and hers is identical performance wise.
We have used this for whipping cream for a trifle and for jobs like that it is fantastic, it quick and easy to use and the mixing bowl does actually turn itself if you leave it unattended. Unfortunately from my cake making experience I soon noticed that it actually had not mixed all of my ingredients together as when using the mixing stand the whisks don't actually touch the bottom of the bowl. There is actually about quarter of an inch of unmixed product at the bottom of the bowl after mixing with the stand in use and in my opinion this is just a pure lack of experience and design in the cake making department at Cookworks!
*** Design, durability and reliability ***
Now as I have mentioned above the mixing whisks do not sit anywhere near the bottom of the bowl when you use the stand. This leaves a lot of unmixed batter in the bottom when making cakes and it's always a disappointment when you are spooning the mixture out into a tray and finding unmixed flour at the bottom of the bowl! This is just a pure lack of good design and the product obviously has not been tested before going out for sale. We have now chucked the stand and bowl away as it was just totally useless.
The bowl which is made of plastic is not the most durable. Isn't it normal to accidently touch the side of the bowl every now and then when using a food mixer? I would have thought so and I'm not the most coordinated of people around but I have not touched the sides of the bowl that often but the scars are there! The whole side of my plastic bowl is gouged and chipped from the whisks touching the sides, surely that plastic must have ended up in one of my delightfully fluffy (Delightfully hard resembling a biscuit) sponge?? That cannot be good at all.
Even though we have thrown our stand away I used it enough to decide that I never want to use it again. It felt extremely cheaply built and it used to bend slightly if you pressed on it, the stand held the mixer too high from the bottom of the bowl and it was generally useless. However on the plus side the mixer was easy to attach to the stand and it was just as easy to remove.
The motor in the hand mixer is obviously slightly weak and it does let out strange burning smells during use. It does get hot after about 3 minutes of whisking - especially if it's anything thicker than cream. The power cord into the mixer is long enough to use on the countertop and it feels good quality.
*** Features ***
5 Motor speeds - The sliding switch on top of the unit controls the speed of the motor which works rather well when whipping cream or other thin consistency ingredients. The switch feels quite strong but it is hard to select the speed you want as the movement between the speeds is awfully small and it is hard to push it sideways. I cannot complain too much about the switch as it does turn it on and it continues to do so!
Eject button - There is an eject button on top of the mixer to eject the mixing whisks. In my opinion this is the best designed part of this mixer as the button is rather large and it is extremely easy to press allowing easy removal of the whisks.
Dough hooks - I have made a batch of bread rolls with this before I purchased my bread maker and in all honesty these worked better than I had expected. The dough hooks worked just fine and I ended up with nice dough which seemed perfect. The hand mixer was on for a good 10 minutes of kneading and it did get rather hot but it lived past this experience.
*** Overall opinion ***
In all honesty I'm certainly not a fan of this food mixer, it seems cheaply built and it is certainly not very well designed. The general idea of the automatic bowl and stand is a good one but Cookworks have not quite got it right. The mixer does lack power but it is just about useable when using it by hand without the stand. The whisks and the dough hooks seem very good quality and they appear slightly better than the ones we had with our last Kenwood mixer, if only the mechanical side of things were as good as the attachments!
Would I recommend this to a friend? UMMM! Tricky question, I would if you are not planning on mixing more than once a week and if it's just for general use. For the price I would say it's a bargain but the bowl and stand turned out to be totally useless and you can pick a mixer up of the same quality as this one for much less money than I paid. If you're happy with the bowl and stand then this could be a winner but I doubt that you ever will be!
The saying 'You get what you pay for', springs to mind ;)
2 stars from me!
Thanks for reading
For Christmas I was given all manner of baking equipment from my girlfriend, friends, family; I'd asked for most of it, but one thing no one was planning on getting me was an Electric Mixer which I really, desperately needed - I had however asked for an iPod Nano, and when we went to collect it from the Argos superstore, they had an offer on - believe it or not it wasn't buy an iPod get a mixing bowl free(!) but it was pretty great. They had 10% off all Apple products (making the iPod cheaper than anywhere else) and if you spent over £100 you also got a £10 voucher to spend in store. The Cookworks Mixer with Bowl was £12.49 reduced by 50% from £24.99 and with the voucher cost a measly £2.49. Bargain!
As I am a big kid it was a struggle knowing it was there wrapped up in beautiful paper beneath the tree, but when Christmas morning came, I tore it open and set about making a batch of cakes. The product is not an Electric Mixer as such - it's a stand, with a rotating base upon which you can secure the electric hand mixer provided. It also comes with a large capacity bowl which fits on to the stand converting it in to a Mixer. As well as two whisks, you get two dough hooks.
The stand is pretty flimsy, lightweight with a pivotal arm to fix the hand mixer to; there is a grey button which allows the 'elbow' to tilt, but it's quite stiff and requires a bit of 'manipulation' (read: frustrated force!). It doesn't require any assembly though. The hand mixer is 200watt with 5 different speeds - though I have found speed number 1 is sufficient for mostly everything I've used it for. The bowl has a subtle spout shaped lip, so you can pour out mixture if required. The base allows the bowl to rotate however you must do this manually, it's not an automated motion. You can also detatch the hand mixer and just use it with any bowl, direct in the pan for soups, etc.
My one major criticism, is that when using the stand and bowl provided, the whisks are shorter than other mixers I've used and they leave ingredient unmixed at the bottom and edges of the bowl, so I always give it a manual stir afterwards which seems to do the trick, but it's annoying!
There's an eject button which easily removes the whisks / dough hooks when they are covered in mixture, so you don't need to pull them and get your hands dirty! Aside from that, there's not a lot else to say about the appearance - it's standard white in colour, it's sufficient in performance, just does the job basically - what more could you want? Plus it's pretty compact too, so for those tight on space and budget this is an excellent option; as standard, it comes with a 12 month guarantee (keep your receipt).
At £2.49 this is probably the cheapest bit of kit I have! My apple corer costs more than that, but bear in mind that that's just the offer price. Full price this is about £25 - usually on special offer though at half price. Worth it, even at full price, and a fraction of the cost of other mixers - even hand mixers are more expensive.