A powerful motor and several nice features, including a countdown and count-up timer and an innovative "Scraper Beater" attachment that saves work.
Terrible for kneading doughs; the only additional attachment you can buy is for making ice cream. (KitchenAid has attachments for pasta, sausage, meat-grinding, etc.)
Stand mixers are supposed to do heavy-duty work like kneading bread dough, and this one just doesn’t cut it.
Starting way back in 1919, KitchenAid worked hard to become identified with the stand mixer. By the 1990s, thanks to KitchenAid and retailers like Williams-Sonoma, the stand mixer had become a countertop essential in American kitchens. Since then, a host of competitors have appeared, including Breville, the appliance company founded in Australia in the 1930s. Breville's Scraper Mixer Pro is roughly comparable—in size, number of speeds, and accessories—to the KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer, a machine we’ve been using in the CHOW Test Kitchen for years. (We’ve even dropped it on the floor a couple of times, and it still works!) Considering that the Breville Scraper Mixer Pro (BEM800XL) has an MSRP $50 cheaper than the KitchenAid, we got to wondering: Could it be a worthy replacement? We rolled up our sleeves and got to work.
The Scraper Mixer Pro’s stand and motor casing come in Silver (shown here), as well as Black Sesame and Cranberry Red. The dishwasher-safe stainless steel mixing bowl has a 5-quart capacity and measures 8 3/4 inches in diameter at the rim. The mixer has a powerful 550-watt motor (the KitchenAid Artisan is only 325 watts) and 12 speeds, plus a countdown timer you can set for a maximum of 10 minutes via an LCD screen at the base. The timer also switches to count-up mode, in case you want to see just how long it takes to cream the butter and sugar for a cake recipe you’re trying out for the first time. An LED indicator shows the speed, and there’s a retractable power cord. And the so-called Planetary Mixing Action combines a counter-clockwise motion of the mixer head with a clockwise motion of the attachment, resulting in complete coverage of the mixing bowl.
You access the mixing bowl by tilting the motor head using a lift-assist handle. Four dishwasher-safe accessories fit onto the motor’s attachment shaft: a wire whip, flat beater, Scraper Beater (basically, a flat beater with spatula edges), and dough hook. There’s also a regular spatula plus a pouring shield you can attach to the rim of the mixing bowl.
Convenience and safety features include a Pause mode that suspends the motor when you need to stop to see what’s happening in the mixing bowl, and a safety cut-off kills the motor if you happen to lift the head during operation. The Electronic cut-off feature stops the motor if it becomes overloaded, and the Thermo cut-off does the same if it becomes overheated. When the Thermo cut-off kicks in, Breville recommends turning the dial to Off, unplugging, and waiting 15 minutes to start up again. The Scraper Mixer Pro comes with both a one-year limited warranty and a huge, 88-page instruction booklet that includes recipes.
We did four tests that together used all four of the Scraper Mixer Pro’s attachments. We made CHOW’s Basic Whipped Cream and Chocolate Swirl Pumpkin Bread. We whipped up a batch of blue cheese butter from the Breville recipe booklet. And we made honey–whole wheat dinner rolls, an as-yet-unpublished CHOW recipe.
Whipped cream: We used the wire whip attachment and the Aerate/Whip setting. We set the timer for 1 minute (the timing that our recipe calls for) and ended up with beautiful medium peaks. That automatic shutoff on the timer meant we could walk away while the machine did its thing—we loved that.
Pumpkin bread: We used the flat beater and Cream/Beat setting. Mixing the oil and sugar was straightforward; so was adding the eggs, pumpkin, and dry ingredients. We did have to scrape down the sides of the bowl (we weren’t using the Scraper Beater; Breville suggests that for lighter batters).
Blue cheese butter: We used the Scraper Beater and the Cream/Beat setting. Into the mixing bowl went softened butter, blue cheese, chives, and minced garlic. About 30 seconds later, we had a lovely compound butter with no lumps, even on the sides or bottom of the bowl. So far so good.
Dinner rolls: We used the dough hook attachment and Cream/Beat setting. (Note: Our recipe calls for kneading on medium high, but Breville recommends low-speed kneading on Fold/Knead for breads.) This is a very wet bread dough that’s supposed to get kneaded for 10 minutes. The Scraper Mixer Pro started bouncing off the counter immediately, which was very scary—we ended up holding the machine down. After 5 minutes, we turned the mixer to Pause to see how the dough was progressing. When we turned it back on, the dough hook seemed to get stuck in the dough and strain; the mixer also felt very hot and smelled like burning rubber, and then the E1 error message (Electronic cut-off current overload) flashed on the LCD screen. We turned off the motor and unplugged the machine. After 15 minutes, the motor still seemed to be straining, so we dumped the dough onto the counter and finished kneading by hand. Then we noticed that all the bread recipes in the Breville manual call for kneading the wet and dry ingredients together in the mixer for 1 minute, then finishing kneading by hand—a surprise, especially for such a powerful machine that retails for $300.
General stuff: The locking head is nice, especially the fact that it locks in the upward position so that it can’t swing down accidentally. The count-up and countdown timer is nice for when you have to walk away or are testing recipes, and the Pause feature is useful. The Scraper Beater does a good job, but when to use it versus the regular flat beater is a little unclear. (Breville suggests it for “light” rather than “heavy” batters, but we’re not sure what that means.) Still, stand mixers are supposed to do heavy-duty work like mixing bread dough, and this one just doesn’t cut it. There are a lot of shiny bells and whistles here, but the extra power doesn’t seem to translate into a better machine.
Photos by Chris Rochelle