Tested: The Ankarsrum® Assistent Mixer, get the best price and find out more about it here.

Summary: beautiful to look at and easy to use (no steep learning curve, no idea why some reviewers say this)

Recipe tested: Dark Malt Focaccia

Notable: straightforward mixing, quiet motor, very easy to add ingredients, cleaning the easiest ever.

tried and tested

Opening the box

The Ankarsrum Assistent arrived securely and well-packaged by BakeryBits, and mostly packed with recyclable material. Surprised that the box wasn’t as heavy as I’d expected, easy for one person to lift from the door to the kitchen. This meant that lifting the mixer out of the box and onto the worktop was also easy. Inside the machine body, tools, literature were all clearly packaged and quite easy to understand. It looks beautiful and you do get a huge rush of excitement when you see it glinting in the box. So it scores highly on buzz-factor. If you gave this as a gift I think the recipient would be extremely excited opening it.

"Didn’t find setting up the Ankarsrum Assistent, or using it, difficult at all. I just attached the plug and the mixing tools then switched it on."

Setting up

It’s funny, I’d read a few reviews mentioning a “steep learning curve”, mostly reviewers from the US, and expected some sort of challenge in setting it up: I wonder too if Ikea has made us slightly Scandi-sensitive about the easiness of putting things together. I didn’t find setting up or using the Ankarsrum Assistent difficult at all. Just attached the plug and the mixing tools and switched it on. What I did need to figure out was which holes the two dough-working tools went in, and by looking at the set-up photo it became clear. Ok, you’ll probably wondering why I didn’t look in the instruction manual, and to be honest, I’m a bit rubbish at reading instructions first, I tend to read them “second” if anything goes wrong after I’ve started (I know, a bad habit).

Attachments used

I chose the dough hook, and later added the dough scraper (after subsequently reading the how-to manual). My reasoning for the dough hook over the roller attachment was that I was aiming to make a soft elastic dough that needed stretching more than pummelling, but I didn’t compare the two to find out which was better. I did later remove the dough scraper once the dough had come together as I felt it hindered the dough’s mixing on this particular recipe (see below). Perhaps the scraper is better with rye flour doughs, or mixes with a sticky quality that might attach to the sides of the bowl more (say, if they had butter, sugar or syrups in them)?

Dough temperature

Now this was very good news. Because the mixing bowl is so wide I found the dough temperature didn’t vary much from start to finish when using the dough hook. That's always a problem with machines like the Kitchen Aid and Kenwood, the dough can heat up very quickly. Here, ingredients that started off at room temperature (for me it was 20°C on this recipe) stayed pretty much stable, going up to 21°C after mixing. If the dough mixing temperature goes above 24°C this can be a problem, and with recipes like this that require very long mixing that is an issue with other machines, especially if they have a deep narrow bowl design which forces the dough towards the centre.

"Very easy to use, love how the bowl just lifts out. It also comes with a bowl “lid” so you could just leave dough in the bowl to rise. "

Result after mixing

Very smooth elastic dough that window-paned very well, no complaints. On this recipe it took close to 20 minutes mixing without any strain on the motor or over-heating of the dough. All very reassuring.

Removing the dough from the bowl

Very easy, love how the bowl just lifts out. It also comes with a bowl “lid” so you could just leave dough in the bowl to rise. But I prefer not to: bakery life taught me that there’s always someone waiting to use the mixer, so don’t hog it. I simply placed the bowl on the seat of a chair and scooped the dough out onto the worktop for a stretch and fold. Also, easy to remove dough from the dough hook.

Cleaning and packing up

Again, very good. Just placed the bowl in the sink and washed it. Really pleased that water didn’t collect in the underside of the mixing bowl.  Wished the accessories would fit inside the bowl for storage: I keep the dough hook in a draw in the kitchen. I liked how the bowl lid fits well and keeps dust from gathering inside, I find with the Kitchen Aid and Kenwood that I need to wash the bowl first if it's not been used for a few days.