KitchenAid Artisan 5-Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer in White
Pros: Capable of performing the tasks it claims. Multiple beater choices come standard. Tilt-Head locking mechanism. Power-take-off accepts attachments for juicing, pasta creation and other kitchen chores.
Cons: Weight may make it difficult to move for some. Excessive motor noise and gear-clash annoying. Dated styling and moderate footprint make countertop storage an issue.
For the past decade, I have had a successful bread-making relationship with the Jenn-Air Attrezzi stand mixer. Also known as “Maytag’s Last Gasp”, this streamlined Italianesque small appliance was axed in April of 2006 when Whirlpool Corp. acquired Jenn-Air’s parent company. With KitchenAid also beneath the Whirlpool umbrella, there was no need for the established brand to compete with an acquired inter-corporate rookie.
The original KitchenAid Model K was produced by the Hobart Corporation and dates back to the Art Deco age when Raymond Loewy was the King of Industrial Design. Though Loewy has been dubbed “The Designer of Everything” (including the Coca Cola bottle, automobiles and locomotives), the Model K was actually a creation of Egmont Arens – whose realm of design includes the ice cube dispenser and Electrolux vacuum cleaner.
Introduced in 1937 at a suggested retail price of $55.00, the Model K has been tweaked over the decades, but its appearance is essentially unchanged. Though laudable for its longevity and basic form-and-function, the updated Model K shows its age when conspicuously placed in a 21st century kitchen.
The degree of Artisan drab becomes moot when the mixer is activated. In the lower range of its ten available speeds, the motor spins with a growl and clash that startles and rankles. While whipping fresh cream for a strawberry shortcake, several conversing guests fled the nearby counter stools – due to their inability to hear or be heard above the Artisan’s din.
To its credit, the Artisan has survived numerous kitchen challenges for more than a decade with a motor that sounds as if it’s been ready to fail since day-one. Conversely, the Jenn-Air is handsome and quiet, but is fitted with a sloppy tilt-head lock that is inferior to that of the Artisan.
What KitchenAid delivers is variety. Included as standard equipment are the wire whip, batter paddle and dough hook. A clear plastic pour shield fits atop the 5-quart bowl to discourage flour waft and contain spatters. Should an attachment make contact with the stainless steel bowl while in operation, a screw located on the underside of the tilt-head will adjust the attachment up or down.
A power-take-off shaft on the front of the mixer will accept more than a dozen optional attachments. A juicer, food processor, meat grinder, grain mill and an assortment of pasta gadgets prevail. Though I currently own none, the optional ice cream maker is the most tempting potential acquisition. But how long will I have to endure the motor noise before chowing-down on the resulting frozen delight?
Work In Progress
The Artisan‘s planetary action spins the attachment in the opposite direction of the head – this all-inclusive dual orbit minimizes the need for continually scraping the bowl. As a result, be aware that whipping heavy cream or egg whites to a desired consistency requires much less time to accomplish vs. a conventional mixer.
While kneading bread dough, the motor doubles-down on gear gnash, but its growl belies its durability. I’ve never trusted the Artisan to a double-dose of dough, though there are those who do without apparent consequence. Both the dough hook and batter paddle wear a plastic coating and are dishwasher safe – as is the 5-quart stainless steel bowl. Due to its aluminum base, I always hand-wash the wire whisk.
Dependability was for decades the Maytag motto, but it also applies to the KitchenAid Artisan through corporate acquisition. Its versatility, ubiquity and legitimate (though strictly utilitarian) retro heritage – along with a competitive price and variety of vivid colors – make it the current king of kitchen clamor. Every kitschy cookhouse should have one – and probably already does.
KitchenAid division of Whirlpool Corporation
Customer eXperience Center
P.O. Box 218
St. Joseph, MI 49085
All images generated by the author unless otherwise noted.