As anyone who’s ever tried a stand mixer will know, they can make an absolutely huge difference in your baking. If you get delicious cakes when mixing by hand, you’ll be blown away by the results you get with a stand mixer. The problem is that a good quality one can easily set you back £300, usually more.
Today, we’re going to take a look at the Tefal QA400 Kitchen Machine. This is a stand mixer that delivers a lot of what you’ll find in expensive Kenwood machines, but at a much more affordable price. Sounds good? Let’s take a look and see what’s on offer.
On opening the box, the first thing that we noticed is that the QA400 compares very favourably to the good looks of the Kenwood Chef range. Taking a similar modern approach, the silver finish looks attractive and stylish.
It’s a reasonably compact machine too; certainly easier to fit on your kitchen worktop than a Kenwood Chef. It’s a lightweight device as well, not too heavy to lift in and out of cupboard if that’s where you want to store it.
Behind the scenes, there’s a 6 speed 900 watt motor providing the elbow grease. You control this with the chunky dial on the front of the machine. Turn it clockwise to cycle through the various speeds, or anti-clockwise for the pulse mode.
The QA400 has that all important planetary mixing action – the most effective mixing action for home baking. This action helps the machine to aerate whatever you’re mixing really efficiently. That extra air that a stand mixer can fold into your creations makes all the difference; air is the key to a light and fluffy cake.
The machine comes with a 4 litre stainless steel bowl, which is more than big enough for general family use. Also in the box are a high-quality die-cast metal beater, and dough hook. There’s a balloon whisk included too, and a cover for the bowl with a chute for easily adding ingredients.
Tefal have also added a few attachments into the deal. You’ll get a 1.5 litre blender attachment (great for smoothies and soups), and a grater/slicing attachment too. This is a great value package considering it can be found for under £150!
Tefal QA400 Features and Specifications
- Stylish looks – modern silver finish
- 900 watt motor – 6 speeds and pulse mode
- 4 litre stainless steel bowl
- Planetary mixing action – crucial for great cakes!
- High-quality diecast metal beater and dough hook
- Balloon whisk included
- 1.5 litre blender attachment – great for making smoothies and soups
- Grating and slicing attachment included
Putting It To The Test
Features are great, but I think I know what you’re all sitting there thinking about – cakes! So let’s take a look at how well the mixer performs.
Both the bowl and the beater are nice and easy to fit. You simply slot them in and then twist to lock them into place. No worries there then!
Out of the box, the machine is very well calibrated. The beater and whisk sit nice and low, very close the bottom of the bowl. This is crucial – if it can’t reach all the ingredients, it can’t mix them. You’d be surprised how many stand mixers simply get this wrong, but you don’t even need to think about calibration with the QA400.
The bowl is well designed too. the bottom is ever so slightly domed, so that ingredients at the bottom aren’t going to escape the beater.
When you turn on the machine, it eases into the speed that you’ve selected so that flour doesn’t billow out of the bowl. I allowed it to slowly incorporate the ingredients first, before ramping up the speed to give it a really good mixing.
Boy, does it mix fast! At the top speed, the mixture gets a real beating! Even at such a high speed, the lightweight body holds very still thanks to the suction feet on the bottom of the base.
I didn’t have to stop the machine to scrape down the sides either. All of the ingredients were mixed thoroughly together, and there were no lingering unmixed ingredients either along the side of the bowl or at the bottom. Excellent!
The mixture was beaten together very quickly. Within 60 seconds, I had a cake mix that I could instantly see was going to make a lovely light cake. The planetary mixing action beats a lot more air into the mixture than I could by hand.
Twenty minutes in the oven, and out popped a pair of super-light sponges. Fluffy and delicious.
The mixer copes well with stiffer mixes too. The results I had with cookies were just as excellent. No scraping, no mess, no fuss, and delicious results.
Throw in your ingredients, select your speed, and that’s pretty much it. The blender made very short work of the banana smoothie that i made, taking just seconds.
The blender is made of plastic which has its upsides and downsides. Obviously, it’s not as durable as a glass blender. However, a lot of people complain that glass blender attachments are too heavy to lift and detach (particularly when they’re full). Of course, you aren’t going to have this problem with a plastic blender.
One minor criticism I have of the blender, is that the blades aren’t removable. Removable blades are simply easier to clean, although to be fair, I still found the blender and blades easy enough to clean under the tap.
To use the slicer/grater attachment, you need to remove the bowl. It comes with 3 different cylinders – a slicer, a fine grater and a coarse grater. You simply put whatever you want to grate into the chute, and then press down with the included tool.
The graters do their job very well (allowing you to grate a carrot in a couple of seconds), but personally I found the slices the slicer makes are a little thin for my taste.
So are there any downsides? The great thing about kitchen machines is the huge variety of attachments that you can buy to expand their capabilities beyond simple mixing. Unfortunately, it seems that Tefal don’t have any plans to expand the range of attachments. However, the ones that are included in the box are genuinely useful, and do a great job.
All in all, I loved the Tefal QA400!
I’ll be honest right now, and say that generally I’m not the best baker in the world. However, everything I’ve made with this machine has turned out superbly with very little effort. We’re talking fluffy cakes, chewy cookies, and delicious baked bread.
If you want to buy a stand mixer without breaking the bank, then don’t hesitate! The QA400 is a real bargain, and does a great job too.