The KitchenAid Bake Assist Microwave Oven makes the yummiest cup-cakes. This is one flexible microwave, convection oven and griller all-in-one. It did not hurt when a cake expert and a willing assistant dropped by GadgetGuy HQ armed with various KitchenAid implements of destruction. We wondered what exactly a ‘stand-mixer’ does and were vaguely familiar with a thing called a blender (good for Bloody Mary’s and smoothies). They were also armed with a range of things like flour, sugar, butter etc. that Gadgeteers had heard of, but never seen in real life.
For starters, while the cup cake mixture was being made, we had rosemary and sea salt infused Macadamia nuts. Easy. Preheat the oven and the round baking tray (provided), throw in some butter, salt, nuts and rosemary. A few minutes later – Voila. Beautifully roasted and caramelised maccas. Puts beer nuts to shame.
Next some spinach and fetta filo triangles. Again, preheat the oven and baking tray and put in frozen filo’s. OK, we cheated and bought them, but the KitchenAid stand mixer could have made filo pastry. Turn at half time (just like any oven) and out came the beautifully browned and cooked filo triangles.
By this time the cupcake mixture was ready and spooned into paper baking cups and placed into a silicon cupcake mould. This used a mixture of microwave and convection oven cooking. The expert flipped her fingers over a few buttons and voila – perfectly baked, browned, and fluffy cup-cakes.
The KitchenAid stand mixer whipped up a batch of butter cream (basically butter, sugar and vanilla) and the Blender went to work on pureeing a fruit topping. At this time, we were told it is so powerful that it can blend ice into the perfect frozen Margherita. Two hours later. All washed up and the Gadgeteers well fed with high-cholesterol treats. KitchenAid heaven.
KitchenAid is an American home appliance brand owned by Whirlpool Corporation. It was started in 1919 by The Hobart Corporation to produce stand mixers. It trademarked the traditional silhouette in the 1930s with the model “K”, the work of designer Egmont Arens. The brand’s stand mixers have changed little in design since, and attachments from this model onwards are compatible with modern machines.
While its parent Whirlpool is at the forefront of smart appliances, KitchenAid has taken the path of tradition. It makes timeless, almost artisan designed and well-engineered products like food processors, blenders, kettles, toasters and much more.
KitchenAid kindly left the oven with us for a month. In that time is has heated hundreds of staff meals, made popcorn and baked incredible golden cheesy pizzas. It has been tested with a range of convenience frozen foods like chips, pies, sausage rolls and more.
In every respect it met our gastronomical expectations. So much so that we will be uber sorry to see it go back! It truly can replace both a microwave and a traditional convention/fan-forced oven.
The only caveat is that this style of cooking is serial in nature. You do one thing at a time for perhaps two or so people. If your needs are more then you will require a cavernous and electricity/gas gobbling traditional oven.
KitchenAid Bake Assist microwave Oven Model 5KMW276ASL, $999
KitchenAid’s Australian website can be found here. First impression is that this is an unusual looking microwave. The door opens downwards so it is defined as a counter top oven. Just make sure you have the right location. We chose an L-shaped corner bench where the door could open onto a bench and we could feed it from the side. If you are placing it in a cavity, make sure you have clearance for any heat dissipation. Not that it ever got overly hot.
It is heavy at 49 (W) x 37.3 (H) x 56.2 (D) cm and 28kg. The whole stainless steel oven looks commercial quality. Being a fan-forced convection oven and grill as well there is a ‘oven’ compartment at the back that makes it deeper than a normal microwave. The capacity is 33 litres and the turntable is 36cm. That is much larger than other mid-size ovens that average 30cm.
In the box
High rack (metal rack that moves pans closer to the griller)
Low rack (metal rack that keeps pans off the glass turntable)
Crips plate and removable handle (for oven or grill use. Preheat to brown food in contact with the plate – like a pizza base or pastry)
Dual steamer (plastic steamer for microwave use)
You don’t appreciate a 36cm turntable until you have used a smaller one! You can put a large pizza-sized dinner plate in there or four side or desert plates. We were initially concerned that the microwave is rated at 750W when most modern microwaves are 1000W or more. Don’t be concerned. Microwave cooking is not so much about watts than it is about the process. If pre-packaged food calls for 60 seconds at 1000W just add one-third more time e.g. 75 seconds. In fact, we found that for all but frozen goods we simply used the 1000W time.
I think we over-zap food anyway. It may surprise you to know that to soften butter only requires 20% power (150W). Sensitive foods like cheesed and egg dishes need 60% power (450W). I experimented with scrambled eggs that I normally do for 2.5 minutes at 1000W. This oven produced better, fluffier results at two minutes and 450W. Similarly defrosting. We nuke things too quickly and they become tough. It has custom settings for meat, chicken/poultry, fish/seafood, bread and more. You enter the weight and it defrosts perfectly. No more grey, tough meat or chicken.
A nifty feature in oven mode is that the turntable can be disabled for rectangular pans. The oven heats from 40 to 200° in 5° steps. Again, you may be concerned that it does not go to 250°.
there are few foods that need over 200°
if they do its usually more about adding a little extra time.
Pre-heat brings the oven up to temperature far more quickly than a traditional fan-forced oven. This is the power saving. Then you bake for the same time as you would in any other oven. If the food does not need a preheat, e.g. does not need the ‘glaze’ of a heated oven you can skip that step and just add a few more minutes to the cook time.
The Quartz Grill element is for the CRISP and GRILL functions. Being quartz instead of metal means it gets hotter faster. It added the golden cheesy glaze to pizza. There is a self-cleaning mode too.
Microwave and Grill heating functions to assist in the cooking of gratin vegetables, fruit, fish, meat and more
Microwave and Convection cooking for oven-baked dishes such as roast meats and pastries.
More than ten key pre-sets for food prep (e.g. softening butter) to baking. There are cooking modes, recipes (40+) and functions, and to ensure optimal cooking conditions. The oven comes with a very comprehensive guide that explains the best ways to achieve perfect food. For example, those scrambled eggs only needed two minutes at a lower wattage to achieve a fluffier outcome.
This is the second microwave GadgetGuy has recently reviewed. The first was the Sharp R890E Microwave/Convection/Grill. It is worth a read if only to see where these combo-ovens fit in. To compare the Sharp and KitchenAid is hard. The Sharp is half the price and does most things well. The KitchenAid has the pedigree and does most things well too. The KitchenAid is very competent all around but behind on raw power. Yet it bakes a cake or roasts meat (browns) better than the Sharp. So, the decision comes down to whether you are price or pedigree driven.
With the caveats (as with the Sharp)
Serial cooking means plan to get everything ready at once – precook some items and reheat to serve
Mid-size is perfect for singles or couples
Fan-forced does everything a larger oven does – only less preheat times
The grill is slower but no pre-heat time so it’s a draw
All I needed on top of this is my trusty Breville Smart Grill Pro for steaks, pikelets (pancakes), toasted sandwiches (toasties) and anything requiring a hot plate.