Cooking and baking is both a mental and physical therapy – Mary Berry
We subscribe to a simple philosophy. When in doubt, get the stand mixer out.
The world is a tough and arduous place and when it feels like the walls are collapsing in on us, we always, without a moment’s hesitation, head to our happy place and start baking and cooking.
It’s saved us thousands of dollars in therapists bills, spared us from having to face the endless journeys back and forth from the Doctor’s office and the hours we would have spent in a waiting room were spent baking instead.
We wish it had been our idea, but that particular pearl of kitchen wisdom was imparted to us by the Queen of Cakes, Mary Berry. Well, she didn’t just tell us, she shared it with a lot of people, but you get what we mean. When it all gets a bit much, we heed Mary’s words and head straight to the kitchen.
Baking isn’t simple. Much as an endless parade of television chefs will tell you otherwise, it isn’t an easy thing to do. That’s why we listen to Mary because she tells it like it is. It’s an art form, one that takes time to master and perfect.
While it used to take a lifetime to get the essence and basics of baking right, thanks to the invention of a series of clever kitchen aids, it doesn’t have to take anywhere near that long to perfect great cakes, bread, and pizza dough anymore.
All you need is a little practice and a good stand mixer and you’ll be on your way to baking nirvana.
But how do you know which stand mixer to put your faith in?
Well, you start with the company that invented that wonderful implement of baking joy. You go straight to KitchenAid.
Who Are KitchenAid?
Kitchenaid is the company that started the home baking revolution. As we’ve already said, they invented the stand mixer, it was the machine that the brand based its fortunes on when it was founded in nineteen nineteen.
They started with a stand mixer, and they’ve been going from strength to strength ever since, recruiting legions of would-be bakers to their cause and transforming what used to be seen as the dominion of learned and skilled, into a source of inspiration and happiness for millions. And it’s all thanks to KitchenAid and Mary Berry. But mostly KitchenAid.
While the basic design of their stand mixers hasn’t changed all that much since the nineteen-thirties (you can actually use some of the company’s stand mixer attachments from that period with their modern stand mixers), KitchenAid hasn’t sat back and let the royalties flow in.
KitchenAid is constantly pushing the boundaries of stand mixer design, which is why there’s a multitude of KitchenAid stand mixers available and why it isn’t exactly easy to choose which of them to invest your hard-earned dollars and even more precious time in.
That’s why we, as die-hard bakers and resolute KitchenAid fanatics, decided to narrow the field a little and take a much closer look at two of their, and our, favorite stand mixers in an effort to ascertain which was better, the Classic Plus or the Artisan. So, without further ado, let the stand mixer showdown begin…
This all-metal, all American stand mixer has found a place in the hearts of amateur bakers, home-based chefs, and their families, everywhere.
While we have no idea why KitchenAid wanted to add the word “Plus” (unless it’s some sort of marketing gimmick, which we can begrudgingly understand) to their classic stand mixer, we assume that they must have a had a good reason, even though they didn’t really need one.
The KitchenAid Classic Plus uses tried and trusted tilt head technology to mix whatever you need it to. What is tilt-head technology? We’re glad you asked.
The part of the mixer that the whisks, or attachments if you prefer a little baking terminology, are attached to is called the head and this can be tilted up to remove the bowl and change the attachments and then tilted down, and fixed into place, to mix whatever it is you want to mix in the bowl.
It might be slightly archaic, but it works and it makes the Classic Plus incredibly easy to clean when you’ve finished mixing. Which believe us, you’ll be grateful for after you’ve mixed up a batch of dough or batter, as it gets everywhere.
Using a four and a half quart stainless steel bowl, which provides ample volume to mix more than enough bread or cake to feed your entire neighborhood in, the Classic Plus has a ten-speed gearbox (we prefer to call it that as it makes baking sound even sexier than it already is) which goes from slow, comfortable stir to rip-roaring hyperspeed velocity at the flick of a switch and between them, the different speeds, can produce all sorts of different doughs, batters and can knead, whip, mix and beat them into all manner of different consistencies.
Which is a roundabout way of saying that whatever you want it to mix or make, the Classic Plus will happily oblige. It also comes with three different attachments, a beater, a whisk, and a dough hook, so you’ll have all of the tools you’ll need to mix whatever you want, whenever you want with the Classic Pro.
The Classic Pro is a mixing, beating, kneading monster of a machine that will improve the lives of any and all home bakers and cooks, and we don’t say that lightly, because it isn’t exactly kind to your pocketbook. Not at first anyway, but the initial outlay is worth it as it’ll pay for itself and earn its keep in next to no time.
It’s an ideal first stand mixer that’ll teach you everything you’ll ever need to know about mixing up a storm in your own kitchen and you’ll discover far more with it than you’ll ever learn by watching countless hours, and endless re-runs, of television cooking shows. It was the machine that we learned to mix with, and for that, we’ll be forever in the Classic Plus’s debt.
Right about now you’re probably staring at the KitchenAid Artisan, shaking your head and muttering something like “But it’s exactly the same as the Classic Plus” to yourself, and while it’s an easy mistake to make, we can assure you that they’re vastly different mixers.
Okay, so maybe they’re not vastly different, but they are different enough for it to have a big impact where it matters the most. In the mix and the bread, dough, and everything else you’ll entrust to the Artisan’s care.
Let’s start with all of the things that they have in common, The Artisan like the Classic Plus is a tilt-head mixer. It also has the same ten-speed gear-box as the Classic Plus and kneads, mixes and whisks everything you’ll want it too in pretty music the same way that the Classic Plus does.
And it even comes with the same three attachments that it uses to do all of it’s mixing, pounding, kneading and whisking, that the Classic Plus uses – a beater, a dough hook, and a whisk. That, however, is where the similarities end.
The stainless steel bowl that the Artisan uses? It’s half a quart bigger than the Classic Plus’, which means you can mix a lot more in the Artisan’s five-quart bowl than you can in the Classic Plus’ four a half quart.
Why would you want to mix more? That’s a good question which we’ll counter with one of our own. Why wouldn’t you want to mix more?
The Artisan gives you the freedom to do just that if you’re so inclined. And that five-quart bowl that it uses? It also has handles (which the Classic Plus’ doesn’t), which are a blessing when it comes to transferring the bowl from the mixer to the oven and then to the sink. All told they might be tiny differences, but they’ll mean the world to you.
As will the pouring shield that the Artisan comes with that’ll allow you to easily add extra liquid, flour, or eggs to whatever you’re mixing without having to worry about creating any more mess. Then finally there are the power settings.
The Artisan is charged and fueled by three hundred and twenty-five watts of power, while the Classic Plus makes do with a meager two hundred and seventy-five. Fifty watts of power may not sound like much, but the Artisan has it where it matters and that extra little bit of juice?
You’ll be able to taste it in every bite of bread, pizza, or cake that you make using the Artisan. At the end of the day, it’s the little things that matter the most and make all the difference.
Classic Plus vs Artisan – Which One Wins?
It’s a KitchenAid contest for the ages, but reluctantly we’d have to admit that the Artisan has the mixing edge over the Classic Plus and just about beats it when it comes to the power and versatility, thanks to the addition of the pouring shield, that both stand mixers have to offer.
That said, the cost differential between the two, almost wipes out the Artisans advantage, as it will leave a much bigger dent in your bank balance than the Classic Plus will. This means that, when all the flour has settled, and when all has been mixed and whisked, there’s only one conclusion that we can come to.
Which stand mixer wins? Neither of them does. It’s a draw.