So I went on a shopping trip this weekend (made possible by the contributions of several dozen very generous readers). This was the result: a 7-quart KitchenAid 6500. It’s grey because I generally dig earth tones, in my clothing as well as my appliances. This is one of the largest KitchenAids in production. I’m told they make an 8-quart but I couldn’t find one of those on display anywhere. The distinguishing feature of these larger models is the lever-action bowl raiser. Smaller KitchenAids sport a tilt-head design. You can see the crank over on this side.
To get the bowl in you set it on a pair of pins that are located on the mixer arms, then snap it down into place. It’s an elegant system though I confess I prefer the tilt-head mechanism of the smaller KitchenAids. The tilting motor housing makes it easier to get the bowl in and to change implements when the bowl is full. Still you can’t have everything, and this mixer has other features which I think make up for the bowl-lift. Volume is one of them, power is another. This model, though not as beefy as my old Viking, has the most powerful motor in the KitchenAid line.
It’s easy to use…you have one switch on the left side. Bingo bango. Not hard to understand.
And I guess I’m a nerd, but one of the most exciting things about the new 6500 series to me was the implement design. Here they are: the paddle, whip and hook.
The paddle isn’t new to my mind, but I think the last KitchenAid I had came with “K”-shaped cross bars. The whip is interesting because the cross section is box-shaped. Honestly I’m not sure if this increases shear forces or anything like that, though I can say the shape makes it easier to get it into the bowl.
The really nifty one is the dough hook, which actually isn’t a hook but rather a spiral. This is a big innovation since you generally only find spiral implements in really, REALLY big flat-bottomed mixers. However the width and relative flatness of the 6500 bowl is perfect for a spiral “hook”. It tried it over the weekend and it works beautifully with no “dough creep” up the implement. Hallelujah, this will be great.
What other features are there that I like? I think the thing that most excites me most is that the implements actually reach down to the bottom of the bowl. The Viking really fell down in this area, even though it wasn’t really a “professional” machine. I was just engineered badly in that regard. So no more picking up the bowl and standing there like an idiot if I want to beat a small quantity of egg. That’s a real advantage of KitchenAid: they’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the way home bakers interact with their products.
What else? Well I can use my old KitchenAid attachments again for starters. Also I confess I dig the old-school look of it. The other model I considered was the Breville Bem800xl which actually beats the KitchenAid 6500 in Consumer Reports stand mixer rankings. It’s got a tilt head design, though only a 5 quart bowl and a slightly smaller motor. The Breville was a contender for sure however, even though I didn’t like the little gizmos built into it: a timer and vertical LED display that tells you what speed you’re on in case you somehow forgot.
I should say that if you’re considering this mixer you can get a couple of different bowls to go with it. The standard is actually glass, though you can get a more opaque “beaten glass” finish if you like. I was dubious of glass mixer bowls since I tend to bang mine around a lot so I went with steel, but still I thought they were interesting. No mixer is ever perfect but I confess I’m very excited about this one and curious to see what it can do. It perfectly mixed and kneaded some very sticky dough this weekend, and whipped up cream to stiff peaks in about 45 seconds. So far I’m impressed to say the least.
So thank you again, all you contributors! If you have yet to hear from me via email you will soon!