KitchenAid Classic Plus KSM75WH Review
Pros: Powerful, affordable, easy to use
Cons: Poor whipping action, requires bowl scraping
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Our Analysis and Test Results
As a member of the distinguished KitchenAid family, the Classic Plus has the hereditary body type with the motor in the tilt-head perched above the bowl and the broad base. This model comes with the traditional flat beater, dough hook, and wire whip that can be put to work at 10 different speeds. Additionally, it has the standard attachment port in the head that allows the use of aftermarket tools such as a pasta roller or meat grinder. Finally, this model is offered in a veritable wellspring of colors. While the aptly named Classic seems to be the archetype mixer, its competitive price is what sets it apart from the competition.
Mixing is arguably the most common task that stand mixers are used for in-home kitchens. We extensively test these products for this application, and the results make up a whopping 30% of each product's overall score. Our tests are the mixing portions of common recipes. However, each recipe isolates specific kinds of mixing tasks and desired outcomes.
To be specific, we use a prodigiously packed cowboy cookie recipe. These cookies challenge the motor and beater paddle to uniformly mix the chocolate chips, nuts, oats, and coconut flakes into a supple dough without masticating them in the process. The first few steps in a pizza dough recipe are also utilized. This recipe tests the machines' ability to incorporate wet and dry ingredients with the dough hook for a one attachment, start to finish, production. Additionally, we make a classic buttercream frosting to test the mixers' ability to keep ingredients in the bottom of the bowl as opposed to smeared all over the sides of the bowl. As with the pizza dough recipe, we are looking for a smooth, even consolidation that doesn't present any clumping or dry spots.
While these recipes are being made, we are closely watching the reaction that the mixers have to the work. Does the task cause them to labor? Do their motors whine? Is the rotation of the mixing attachment even? The Classic Plus lives up to the KitchenAid standard of excellence with a few hiccups in the frosting and pizza tests that required the tester to briefly bring the spatula into play. In all other recipes it was at the top of the class, proving that these machines can reduce the work while at the same time producing high-quality results.
Ease of Use
Ease of use is weighted to account for 30% of the overall score of each product. This is not because this is a measure of effectiveness at specifics tasks as is the case for the other metrics. Rather, it is because this metric is an assessment of the enjoyability of the product. There are a good deal of features and factors that fall into such an assessment, and they touch on every other metric.
So, what does the ease of use metric cover? This analysis focus on the user interface, the sturdiness of the machine, the user experience, and the cleaning burden. These aspects are encountered during every other evaluation as repeated use, and cleaning causes these machines' limitations and design flaws to stick out like a sore thumb.
The Classic Plus fairs well in this assessment. The interface is simplistic — in a good way — facilitating single-handed operation and bowl insertion/ removal. The machine is quite stable, even when mixing at a high speed. When mixing or beating, the user is infrequently required to use a spatula to scrape the bowl for unincorporated ingredients. Perhaps most importantly, the machine is easy to clean. This is in part due to the fact that it has an easy to wipe down body and bowl, but also because it limits spilling in the first place. The Classic's motor has a slow start-up speed regardless of what it's set to, so dry ingredients don't get thrown. Additionally, the tilt-head can be tilted back to give access to the bowl without dumping the ingredients onto the head. All and all, this model is a pleasure to use.
For some mixer tasks, having a powerful motor with high RPMs on its own isn't enough to get the job done. Whipping, which accounts for 25% of a product's overall score, is one of these tasks. Whipping is simply the aeration of a medium such as egg whites. Like so many simple culinary tasks, whipping is easy to overdo.
The challenge lies in working the egg whites enough that a matrix of air-filled bubbles develops, but not working them too aggressively that the bubbles are broken apart. We test for this both directly by measuring the volume increase in whipped cream, and indirectly through baking off a sponge that uses whipped egg whites as a leavener. The height of the rise and the sagging at the center of the sponge are good indicators of the quality of the whipping.
The Classic struggled with both of these tasks. To put it bluntly, it is among the poorest performers in the class. The sponge failed to rise to an inch and a half — the mode for the group — and it sagged considerably in the center. While this outcome could be attributed to a number of other variables, the fact that we barely doubled the cream volume in the whipped cream test supports this assessment.
Kneading is used to produce an elastic structure in doughs that make them substantially better at retaining CO2. This outcome is critical as gas caught in the dough causes it to rise, and these voids are what produces light, airy bread. Kneading is a great task to hand off to a mixer as it's mechanical, time consuming and physically demanding while not being particularly technical.
To test the Classic Plus's kneading effectiveness, we used a basic pizza dough recipe and mixed it with the standard dough hook that comes with the machine. The process was straightforward and effective, although it required a bit of assistance with a spatula. The result was a thoroughly mixed dough, and that was springy and elastic. Upon consuming the baked pizza, all agreed that the crust exterior was delicate and crisp, while the crumb was light and open. Yum!
The KitchenAid Classic Plus is a great value, and it is the obvious choice for the Best Buy Award. This mixer performs at the highest level in the mixing, ease of use, and kneading metrics. If I weren't for its mediocre showing in the whipping metric, it would be a candidate for an Editors' Choice Award. That said, this machine is considerably less expensive than the competition and outperforms the majority of the class.
Mixers are a big investment to be sure. However, if you're interested in buying one, then it is worth spending the money to get one that can adequately perform the tasks you have in mind. The mixer market is quite linear — meaning an increase in cost coincides with an increase in performance. The Best Buy Award-winning Classic Plus is the exception that proves the rule.
— Nick Miley and Michelle Powell