Pita crisps – an entertainer’s cheat

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khobz pita crisps

We entertain a lot. A lot. Most weekends, and even some weeknights. It’s a habit that adds up over time but there’s not much I love more than sharing good food with great friends.

If you’ve ever been at the supermarket and wondered why lavosh, crispbread and crackers are so expensive, you are not alone. After all, they’re just toasted bits of dough, right? And they’re only snacks. With a bit of DIY and for under $1.50, you can make them an endless variation of them – with sea salt, zaatar, cumin or chilli and lime. Here’s how. They’re a healthy snack (especially if you use wholemeal khobz bread) and even if you cheat and buy dips, people will still be impressed that you ‘made’ crisps.

Pita Crisps

1 pack khobz bread
cooking spray
sea salt, or other spice (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 190C.
  2. Roughly cut up the khobz into bite sized pieces. They don’t all have to be the same shape or size – just makes them look rustic.
  3. Lay them on a baking sheet and spray  lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt or spices if you’re using.
  4. Bake for 4-7 minutes, making sure to check them every two minutes. They should be slightly coloured, but not golden brown. This will depend on your oven – once you’ve worked out the perfect baking time, it’s easy to repeat.
  5. Serve with dips or just eat them as a snack.

Potato Focaccia with Red Onion and Tomatoes

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Potato Focaccia

I’ve been a terrible blogger of late. It’s not that I don’t have heaps of photos and recipes sitting here – I’ve just been terribly bad at typing them up. Sometimes, I’m just not that thrilled with a recipe, or, sometimes it needs just a tad more workshopping. And of course, there are times where the space between making the recipe and eating all of it is quite short (as you can see, we’d already eaten half of it!). This is one such time, so I apologise for the photo but wish to assure you it tastes delicious.

I found it on Cook (almost anything) At Least Once – and it’s one of my favourite recipes and has been for over three years. The great thing is that you can top it with whatever you have on hand – parmesan, tomatoes, onion, thinly sliced garlic or potatoes. It’s a great bread to start with because it’s pretty foolproof and there’s only one rising.

Cut into 1-inch slices, it’s a great pick-at-it finger food for when visitors come around. If you’re feeling fancy you can add extra virgin olive oil and balsamic as a dip. It’s much quicker in a stand mixer, but I suppose you could do it by hand if you were comfortable with kneading dough – the dough is quite wet and sticky, so use a stand mixer if you have one.

Potato Foccacia
adapted from Karen Martini’s Where the Heart Is

1½ cups slightly warm water
1½ tsp dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 medium potatoes, pref Desiree (or substitute 100g potato flour and ½ cup water)
500g plain flour
1 tsp salt flakes
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
basil leaves, or other fresh herbs
150 grams cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 large red onion, sliced into 0.5cm rings
grated parmesan (optional)
olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper (for topping)

  1. Place the lukewarm water, sugar and yeast in a small bowl and whisk gently until yeast is dissolved. Let it stand for a few minutes to activate – you’ll know it’s done when it’s frothy. Don’t use hot water or you’ll kill the yeast.
  2. Turn on your oven to 100C for 3 minutes, then turn off – this is so there’s a warm space for the dough to rise.
  3. While the yeast is activating, boil the potatoes in their skins until soft. Use a potato ricer, if you have one, to mash the still hot potatoes. Place them into the bowl of an mixer with the dough hook attachment.
  4. Sift in the flour and salt (if you are using potato flour, add the dry potato flour to the plain flour and the water to the water/yeast mixture.) On the lowest speed, lightly mix these ingredients before pouring in the water/yeast mixture. Continue mixing on low speed until combined then increase the speed and mix for another 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic – it should be quite sticky.
  5. Lightly oil a non-stick baking tray (25x38cm or 10.5×15 inches) and scrape the dough into the centre of the tray. Because the dough is sticky if you lightly oil your fingers this will stop the dough from attaching to your hands and the oil also enriches the crust. Use your fingers to push the dough out to fill the tray. 
  6. Place into the pre-warmed (but turned off oven) and leave to rise – add a small bowl of water to increase the humidity in your oven. 
  7. Remove the baking tray containing the dough from the oven, then preheat your oven to 180C. Cut up the toppings you are using and scatter over the dough, then drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes, freshly ground pepper and parmesan, if using.
  8. Bake for 30-40 minutes – remembering to rotate if your oven is temperamental like mine. Slice and serve while warm with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Alfajores

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alfajores

So, now that you’ve made all that dulce de leche you’re probably wondering what to do with it (a not uncommon problem in my house). If you haven’t already eaten it straight from the can, or if you have but still have some left over – alfajores could just be the cookie answer you’ve been waiting for.

I’m a traditionalist, which means that my top two cookies are chocolate chip (with pecans, obviously) and Anzac biscuits. After trying alfajores for the first time, I am convinced it now rounds out my top three. They’re essentially melting moments with caramel in the middle. Winning.

Alfajores
makes 14 2.5″ cookies
from Christine Gallary at chow.com

113g (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
⅓ cup granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 tbsp pisco or brandy (optional)
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 cup cornstarch
¾ cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp fine salt
1 can dulce de leche
icing sugar, for dusting

  1. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the egg yolks, pisco/brandy and vanilla and mix until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Place the cornstarch, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into the mixer bowl and mix on a low speed to combine – just until the dough comes together.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper, and chill in the fridge for an hour.
  5. Before rolling the dough, preheat your oven to 180C and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap it, and place it on a lightly floured work surface (or between two sheets of parchment paper).
  7. Roll to 6mm thickness, then cut out dough using a 2″/5cm fluted cookie cutter (these expand to about 2.5″), rerolling the dough as necessary until all of it is gone.
  8. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, at least 2cm apart and bake about 12-14 minutes until the cookies are firm and pale golden on the bottom – they should remain pale on top. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Flip half of the cookies upside down and gently pipe or spread the dulce de leche on each. Place a second cookie on top and using the flat of your palms (or else they’ll crack), gently press to create a sandwich.
  10. Dust generously with powdered sugar before serving.

Taste & Test at Sage Dining Rooms

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sage restaurant canberra

“Most people think fine dining is stuffy… we’re here to make it fun.” announced our waiter.

Yesterday, Sage launched their new Taste & Test menu – five courses for $60 where the dishes change based on availability of produce and customers’ feedback from the night before.

It’s a fun concept that turns it’s nose up at snooty concepts of fine dining – we sit down at a table with pencils and colourful erasers that make us feel like kids again. When explaining the menu, our waiter comes around to stamp the scorecard on the white paper that covers our table, and at the end of the meal users are invited to write their feedback and that’s taken into account for the next day’s menu, which means the menu is a constant work in progress.

The courses are only made known to diners as they are presented at the table on the day, but what I was really surprised about was that none of the waitstaff asked about any dietary considerations our group might have – after asking for our choice of wine, the courses start arriving. Luckily none of our group of 12 have any allergies, but it’s an embarrassing oversight for a fine dining restaurant.

sage garlic soup

Garlic soup with dehydrated mushrooms and dried spring onions – a good match of textures and flavours, the soup was rich, smooth, slightly foamy and the ever-so-slightly overpowering flavour of the garlic paired well with the earthiness of the mushrooms. But as the first course of a menu that was trying to break out of the conventional fine dining mould, it was a tad cliché – a tiny portion on an oversized plate. I think the strong flavours would’ve worked much better as an amuse bouche. The wine pairing with a German Riesling was my favourite of the night. 

sage braised oxtail

Braised wagyu oxtail, baby artichoke, tomato fondue, olive powder, rosemary flower, confit octopus – the first thing we notice as the waiter put our plates down was a fishy smell. I’m always game to try new things, but the aroma of the confit octopus tentacles was quite dominating. The olive powder was interesting and it’s salty, briny flavour really brought out the meatiness of the oxtail. A good dish, and a popular one at our table, but there was way too much going on in terms of flavours. The dish just lacked finesse and attention to detail, while the oxtail was rich and flavourful, the artichoke wasn’t de-stemmed properly and the octopus had an awkward chewy texture and really didn’t add anything to the dish. 

sage murray cod

Maryland farm Murray cod, smoked kipfler potatoes, beurre blanc, baby asparagus and leek, rye crunch – fish was a surprising third course after the richness of the oxtail, but this was by far the standout dish of the night. Sweet, sustainably farmed Murray cod with fresh vegetables and a light butter sauce really highlighted the quality of the produce.

sage duck three ways

Textures of duck, heirloom carrot, celeriac remoulade – unfortunately our fourth course was just not all we had hoped for. My duck was overcooked and the mayonnaise dressing for the remoulade was thick and had oily undertones. The terrine was excellent though, and the highlight of the dish.

sage dessert oatmeal crumble

Oatmeal crumble, honey and pepper, ginger jelly, vanilla yoghurt , house made marshmallow – dessert really divided our table. A few loved it, but I felt that it was conceptually flawed and too breakfast-like. When it’s winter in Canberra, I’m looking for something decadent, sinful and warming – not oatmeal crumble and yoghurt.

Of course, you might disagree with me so here’s another review filled with (unnecessary) superlatives – if nothing else, you’ll find it amusing.

The verdict
Of course this was a ‘test’ menu, and 5 courses for $60 of this caliber is excellent value – a lot can be forgiven, like serving fish after oxtail. It’s undoubtedly a fun night out with friends, and everyone can pretend we’re our favourite cravat-wearing food critic, but there’s no escaping that at the end of the day, Sage is good, not great. It lacks attention to the finer details that is the hallmark of true fine dining restaurants – respecting good locally sourced produce and paying close attention to detail. In all honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it lost its chef’s hat this year.

Taste & Test runs Tues to Thursday until Sept 27. Call 02 6249 6050 to book. 

Sage Dining Rooms
Gorman House Arts Centre, Batman St, Braddon
Canberra ACT
p (02) 6249 6050

Tuesday to Saturday, 5.30pm til 10pm
Lunch Saturday only, 12.30pm til 2pm

Sage Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Mango Pudding – yum cha at home

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mango pudding

Ever been to yum cha and wanted to skip straight to dessert? Now you can, without even leaving your house. If you like mango pudding that is.

It’s a super-simple, one bowl dessert. Absolutely foolproof, I promise. I should say that I looked at quite a few recipes – I’m not a fan of recipes that use packet mango jelly as it gives a synthetic-y flavour which is pretty icky. 

You can use fresh pureed mango, but because they vary so much through the season here, sometimes the flavour isn’t strong enough. If you can get to an Indian grocer, look for a can of mango puree – usually called Alphonso Mango Puree. You’ll notice mine is much darker yellow in colour than the yum cha ones – I suspect they use mango nectar.

You can serve with fresh mango, or add diced fresh mango to the mixture if you like. Enjoy! 

Mango Pudding
makes about 900ml, or ten small puddings

1 cup hot water
1½ tbsp powdered gelatine
⅓ cup sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
1½ cups mango puree – fresh or canned Alphonso mango puree
extra evaporated milk for topping

  1. Put the hot water into a bowl and sprinkle with gelatine powder. Give the mixture a quick stir to separate the gelatine powder and leave to stand for three minutes to dissolve.
  2. Add sugar and stir again – do not whisk or the mixture will get frothy and the small air bubbles will ruin the texture of the finished product.
  3. Next, add the evaporated milk and stir to combine, then add the mango puree and mix.
  4. Pour the mixture through a sieve into one large mould or a few small ones and refrigerate – smaller moulds will set quicker. If you are keeping it for more than a few hours or overnight, make sure to clingwrap the moulds so that weird fridge smells don’t get into your mango jelly.
  5. Unmould by running a knife around the bottom edge and flipping onto a plate, or heating the mould briefly – either by submerging in hot water for 20 seconds or heating the mould with a blowtorch. Serve topped with additional evaporated milk.

Dulce de Leche

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dulce de leche

I’m going to say three words that will make you want to go out and buy, borrow or steal a pressure cooker. Dulce de leche. In fifteen minutes.

I’m not that fussed about caramel but a year or so ago I picked up a bottle of Sugardaddy’s Confectionary Dark Caramel Spread – it was slightly creamy and not overly sweet. Sugardaddy’s has since stopped producing delicious confections and I’ve been hoarding that jar at the back of my fridge for quite a few months now. Alas, one day while I was fishing around in my already overcrowded fridge I accidentally knocked the jar off the shelf and it smashed on the floor. If you’re having visions of me kneeling on the floor trying to pick out the caramel bits – you’d be right, but in the end I decided the bits of glass were too much of a hazard. I did still eat some but I couldn’t in good conscience serve it to anyone else.

A friend had told me that it tasted just like when his mum boiled a can of condensed milk. Google told me that I had to boil it for three hours. After the Christmas pudding incident where my house was literally dripping water from the windows, I was under no inclination to boil anything for that long again. But I know that anything you can boil on a stovetop, you can do quicker in a pressure cooker. Enter Bowie, the pressure cooker and the dulce de leche experiment.

So off I traipsed (excitedly) off to the supermarket to buy some condensed milk. But while I was trying to decide which condensed milk to buy, I notice that they all said the same thing on the can…

do not heat

What would you have done? After (not) much thought, I decided to proceed anyway, because I’m a rebel like that. Also, I really trust my pressure cooker – it’s a Fissler, and oh so kickass. The lid clicks into place, I figured, so any (potential) explosion would be self-contained.

Mr akitchencat was not too thrilled with this idea of ignoring the warning and doing it anyway. Oh well, that’s why it’s called an experiment right?

So, I took home two cans of condensed milk and a gung-ho attitude. I googled extensively and stumbled upon Laura’s blog, hippressurecooking, which has heaps of good pressure cooker information (for starters to pros). We tentatively placed two cans of condensed milk in the pressure cooker and filled it with water and sat as far away from the kitchen as our tiny apartment would allow.

And… success! Dulce de leche that’s creamy, has great texture and stability and isn’t overly sweet.

dulce de leche can

This is so easy you’re going to be making lots of it, I’m sure. Use it as cupcake frosting, in alfajores or macarons, as a tart filling or for when you’ve just got to have dessert – eat it with a spoon straight from the can.

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, there’s a wikihow on how to do this in in a microwave, on the stovetop or in the oven (it says to pressure cook for up to 50 minutes, which I’m sure will only result in burnt caramel.) And of course, there’s the traditional way, from scratch, you can read about it on my friend Kara’s blog at The Patient Cook.

Dulce de Leche

1-2 cans of condensed milk

pressure-cooker-dulce-de-leche

  1. There are only two rules – the can cannot touch the base or sides of the pressure cooker, and it must be completely submerged in water. Of course, you should make sure to not overfill your pressure cooker above the max line.
  2. Place the trivet and steamer basket into the base of the pressure cooker – you want the basket to be raised off the base.
  3. Place the cans of condensed milk into the pressure cooker – you can do more than one at a time, as long as the cans do not touch the sides of the pressure cooker.
  4. Fill the pressure cooker with water making sure the cans are completely covered, but the water does not exceed the maximum capacity line.
  5. Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker, making sure it’s on the high setting. Cook on high heat and when it reaches pressure, lower the heat to the minimum required to maintain pressure. Cook for 15-20 minutes – mine was cooked for exactly 18.5 minutes. The longer you cook it, the firmer and darker it becomes.
  6. Remove from heat and let the pressure cooker depressurise naturally. Only open the can when it is cool to touch.
  7. If you want to adjust the texture of your dulce de leche, you can heat it with a tablespoon or two of cream.

Disclaimer: make sure you read the instructions carefully, and do this at your own risk, etc etc. You know the deal.

Gnocchi

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gnocchi

If you’re the kind of person that is always tempted by house made gnocchi at restaurants, it might surprise you to know that it’s really not hard to make at home. It requires just two ingredients, a good potato masher and can be done in under half an hour for a two person serve.

Once you’ve had home made, fresh gnocchi – I promise you’ll never go back to the packet stuff. It’s pillowy soft potatoey goodness and nowhere as tricky as all the write ups would have you believe. Start with small quantities, so you get a feel for it – it’s very therapeutic really. It gets trickier as you make bigger quantities which is why gnocchi quality can vary widely at restaurants. 

There are a so many questions that are up for debate with gnocchi – what potatoes to use, whether to boil or roast them, whether to use egg or not, how much flour to use,… but with some sound research, I’ll help you get to the bottom of these – with the help of Australia’s pre-eminent consult on such matters, Stephanie Alexander (or her book, anyway); one of Australia’s most famous nonnas, Mietta O’Donnell and Marcella Hazan, the godmother of Italian cooking. 

cat helper

For a start, a lot of the potato varieties specified are not readily available in Australia – Yukon Gold anyone? The debate is really between using waxy or floury potatoes, although with the introduction of newer all-purpose variety spuds it starts to get difficult to say which is which, and consequently, which potatoes to use for gnocchi. The choice of potato is critical, says Marcella Hazan, who recommends Desiree potatoes for making gnocchi. Stephanie Alexander concurs, recommending Desiree, Nicola or Toolangi Delight. Avoid using white potatoes, and if you can, use old potatoes (new potatoes hold too much moisture).

Although a lot of newer recipes recommend roasting the potatoes to reduce the moisture, Stephanie, Mietta and Marcella agree that they should be boiled – skins on, in a large pot of water. Avoid testing them too often as piercing them can cause them to become waterlogged. Choose similarly sized potatoes so that they cook at the same rate, and don’t require too much testing. The potatoes must also be mashed, or better still, put through a ricer while still hot.

The egg question is an easy one. The nonnas are all in agreeance – eggs are a no-no in potato gnocchi. Some people *ahem, Tobie Puttock* do use eggs because they make the dough easier to handle, but this ‘Paris style’ method results in a tougher, more rubbery product says Marcella Hazan.

How much flour to use? Between 250-320g per kg of potato, but erring on less flour where possible. The less flour used, the lighter the gnocchi will be. With all that in mind, hope you’re ready to make your first batch of gnocchi!

A couple of other tips – the sauce must be ready before you start cooking the gnocchi. Gnocchi must be made by hand – there are no shortcuts; do not use the food processor for this or you’ll end up with gluey dough. Lastly, pay attention to the second last step where Marcella details how to cook the gnocchi and test for doneness – I think this is where most people think the hard part is over and cook them until they float.

making gnocchi

Potato Gnocchi
serves 4
from The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan

450g potatoes
115g plain flour
continental flour (for dusting, optional)

  1. Put the potatoes, skin on in a large pot of water and bring to the boil. Cook until tender – avoid testing too often as puncturing them makes them waterlogged.
  2. When they are done, drain and mash (or run through a potato ricer) while still hot. If you are using a ricer, you don’t even have to remove the skins.
  3. Add most of the flour to the potatoes and knead just until it forms a smooth mixture – do not overwork the dough. Some potatoes absorb less flour than others, so it’s best not to add all the flour until you know exactly how much they will take. Stop adding flour when the mixture has become soft and smooth, but is still slightly sticky.
  4. Dust the work surface lightly with flour. Break off a portion of dough and roll into a long thing sausage shape about 2.5cm thick. Slice the rolls into 2cm lengths.
  5. Holding a fork in one hand (or a gnocchi board if you have one) press each cushion of dough into the fork to make ridge on one side and a finger indent in the other. When gnocchi are shaped in this manner, the middle section is thinner and more tender in cooking, while the ridges become grooves for the sauce to cling to.
  6. To cook the gnocchi, bring a big pot of water to the boil, and salt it. When boiling, drop in just two or three gnocchi – ten seconds after they have floated to the surface, drain them and taste. If they are too floury, add 2-3 seconds to the cooking time and if they are too sloppy/disintegrated/almost dissolved, subtract 2-3 seconds from the cooking time.
  7. Cook 2-3 dozen gnocchi at a time, drain and set aside in a 100C oven- either in a platter with a sliver of warmed butter, or with a bit of sauce you are planning to serve it in.

Tapas and Tempranillo at Mt Majura Vineyard

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Mt Majura Estate

As part of the Fireside Festival that’s running throughout August, Mt Majura Vineyard is hosting a tapas and tempranillo dinner aimed at showcasing some of their best wines. Partnering with one of Canberra’s top regional restaurants, Grazing in Gundaroo, the tapas are provided by Chef Kurt Neumann and paired with three 80ml tastes of Mt Majura’s Graciano, TSG and Tempranillo. They also offer all their other wines for tasting or to purchase either by the glass or bottle.

rare roast beef2012 Graciano with sliced rare roast pepper beef with green olive salsa, mayonnaise and rye crisp – delicious!

confit duck with cassoulet
2011 TSG (Tempranillo Shiraz Graciano) with confit of duck and white bean cassoulet with pancetta crunch – my favourite dish of the night, and I’m not even usually a huge fan of duck. Beautifully rich duck pairs beautifully with earthy white beans, lentils and carrots, with one of my favourite wines from the estate.

lamb slider
2011 Tempranillo with pulled lamb and brioche slider with tomato and sage relish – it may look like a simple slider, but the lamb is rich and flavourful, contrasted with the sweetness of the brioche, not to mention the vineyard’s standout wine, their Tempranillo.

Tapas and Tempranillo at Mt Majura Vineyard runs Thursday and Friday nights in August, and is $30 for three tapas with matching 80ml tastings. A small range of other tapas are also available. Bookings essential on (02) 6262 3070.

Beef, Onion and Red Wine Pie

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beef onion and red wine pie

Pressure cookers really come into their own come wintertime. From beef pie to lamb shanks, I’ve used  mine every week without fail. You could do this in a slow cooker too, but my Fissler really makes this a quick, come-home-after-work, whack-it-all-into-one-pot sort of dish. The cool thing about this pie is that it’s not just a mishmash of mixed up stuff and veggies that most normal pies are – you can see the shreds of beef and it’s topped with a generous amount of sweet carrots. 

It has all my favourite things, and best of all, uses just 5 ingredients to make the filling. I can’t take credit for the idea though – I actually had it when I was out at the Mt Majura Vineyard. It was so good that I had to try and recreate it at home. Three attempts later, I’ve decided that the simplest recipe is the way to go – try it while it’s still abysmally cold outside!

Beef, Onion and Red Wine Pie
serves 4

800g diced beef – I used rump
1 cup (250ml) red wine
300g onions, halved and finely sliced
1 cup (250ml) beef stock

3 carrots, finely sliced into circles
1 sheet puff pastry
egg, for glazing (optional)

  1. If you feel like it, place diced beef into a non-reactive bowl and cover with red wine. Seal with glad wrap and leave for up to two days. If you can’t be bothered, that’s ok too.
  2. When you are ready to cook your filling, place beef, red wine, onions and beef stock into your pressure cooker (making sure it comes up to the minimum fill line) and seal. Cook for 40 minutes, then allow to cool,
  3. Using the back of a spoon, break up the pieces of beef into shreds and simmer over a medium heat until the sauce is reduced by a third. If you want, you can now freeze this filling for later use.
  4. Fill a small saucepan with water and a tablespoon of sugar and bring to the boil. When boiling, add carrots and cook until just cooked through (there should be some resistance) – about 3 minutes if finely sliced.  Don’t overcook them as they lose their sweetness, it’s alright if they’re slightly undercooked as they’ll be going back into the oven. Drain the carrots.
  5. Divide beef filling between four bowls and top with the sliced carrots.
  6. Puff pastry works better when it’s cold, so make sure not it thaw it out too much or you’ll get soggy, flat pastry. Cover each pie with puff pastry, brush with egg glaze and bake at 200C until the puff pastry is golden brown.

Everything you wanted to know about KitchenAid beater attachments

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FlexEdge vs BeaterBlade

My KitchenAid stand mixer has to be one of my most used kitchen gadgets – and I’ve got quite a few. One of the first things I noticed after I got my KitchenAid though was that I had to constantly stop and scrape down the sides, which was not really what I was after – isn’t the whole idea of getting a stand mixer so that you don’t have to use your hands?

I couldn’t decide between KitchenAid’s Flex Edge or the BeaterBlade, so the lovely peeps at Kitchenware Direct have sent me both to test and review. One thing is clear – both are infinitely better than the standard paddle attachment that comes with the mixer. I tested all of them with 150g of butter and a batch of gingerbread.

In case, you (like me) didn’t read the instruction manual – it’s worth noting that there’s a little screw located underneath the mixer head that you can turn to raise or lower the mixing bowl, this is so that the beater or whip reaches the absolute bottom of the bowl and you’re not left with that little bit of un-mixed batter.

KitchenAid Coated Flat Beater (also called paddle attachment)
kitchenaid paddle

This is the standard beater that comes with the mixer. It’s made of metal and has an enamel coating. It’s solidly made but as you can see, there’s a tendency for butter to collect in the bottom half of the paddle.

There’s also a lot of butter on the sides of the bowl, which is especially a problem for smaller batches of batter. Because the paddle tends to push ingredients around, every so often you have to stop and scrape down the bowl which is a little fidgety as the beater is still locked in place so you have to maneuvre around it. I rarely use mine anymore – it’s really worth investing in one of the other beaters.

It took 25 seconds to cream 150g of butter with the paddle attachment.

KitchenAid Flex Edge Beater ($69.95 from Kitchenware Direct)
KitchenAid FlexEdge beater

This is KitchenAid’s answer to the scrape down the bowl problem. It’s basically their standard coated flat beater, but with a nifty silicone edge that it scrapes the sides of the bowl as it mixes. It claims to reduce your mixing time considerably, which it does – the butter was ready in half the time.

Unfortunately, it does push the ingredients onto the sides of the bowl and doesn’t really scrape it down as well as I would’ve likI ed. I found the mixture did collect on the bottom half of the paddle (though a lot less) and with larger batches of dough, it pushed the dough up and over the top edge of the paddle. The dough wasn’t as well mixed as would’ve liked – there was a tiny knob in the bottom that seemed to have been missed.

It took 12 seconds to cream 150g of butter with the FlexEdge beater. The FlexEdge comes with a one year replacement warranty.

BeaterBlade ($44.95 from Kitchenware Direct)
Beaterblade

The BeaterBlade, made by a company called New Metro Design and imported by an Australian company called Fully Baked, is a third party product. Unlike the other two, it’s made of a thick plastic and both outer edges have a flexible silicone edge – this seems to avoid the tiny bit of unmixed batter that gathers at the dimple in the bottom of the bowl. Despite being made of plastic, less butter seems to cling to the paddle making it easier to scrape down at the end of a recipe. Most of the batter stays in the bottom half of the mixing bowl, and the thinner silicone seems to be more effective at scraping the batter off the sides of the bowl. The downside though – the top of my beaterblade cracked when I made the gingerbread. I called the importer who assured me that it was an isolated issue but a quick Google search seems to show otherwise – it’s covered by a 1 year warranty, and a replacement was quickly despatched.

It took 8 seconds to cream 150g of butter with the BeaterBlade. It comes with a one year replacement warranty.

The verdict
Despite being made of plastic, I much prefer the BeaterBlade. There’s less residual dough on the sides of the mixing bowl and having two flexible silicone edges means that mixing time is slightly quicker than the FlexEdge. Ingredients are more evenly mixed through the batter and the residual batter is easier to scrape off the beater. It’s also cheaper than the FlexEdge. The downside is though, that mine did crack when I made a reasonably soft gingerbread dough – a replacement has been sent and the broken one still does work.

The FlexEdge is much  more solid and built to last. I still feel like I need to scrape down the beater and sides – very rarely, but I do have to do it every so often. That said, it is probably almost impossible to break and will last much longer.

If I was going to purchase  one, I have to say that I really can’t go past the BeaterBlade though, butter creams faster and more evenly and there’s a much more even mixing of ingredients. The fact that the importer stood by their warranty makes me confident in recommending it, even after my little incident. The BeaterBlade is not really designed for heavy doughs though, so if you’re living in a colder climate (where butter will be more solid at room temperature), or you routinely mix big  batches of dough, I’d opt for KitchenAid’s FlexEdge – it’s effective and does the job well.

If you have any questions – I’d love to hear them, feel free to post them below.