Saturday, 4 April 2009

“The Ultimate Mixer Cookbook”, Kay Halsey

Okay, this qualifies as an odd one. There are a lot of cookery books around our house, some fantastic standbys whose quality can be judged by the amount of use they get, some initially promise much, but spend a lot of time on the shelf, and probably wouldn't be missed if they went to the great library in the sky.

"The Ultimate Mixer Cookbook" has a slightly unusual provenance. Last Christmas the household gained a fetching red Kitchen Aid mixer. Terribly middle class, this is a work of art in itself, unambiguously wearing its industrial credentials on its sleeve, and having the sort of solidity that leads you to trust it absolutely. The fact that it makes cake making a doddle is also appreciated, both around the house and at work, where the arrival of cake is rightly regarded as a considerable boost to morale.

Being a significant investment, we decided that instead of chucking out the buyer registration card, which is standard operating practice, we'd fill it in and post it off to Belgium (why Belgium?), and as an added bonus, we would apparently be sent a mixer cookbook.

I had zero expectations about what sort of form this cookbook would take. Generally free gifts such as this more resemble booklets, with low production values, and little in the way of useful content. So, when this morning we received a jumbo batch of post and I spied the postman leaving something in the porch – a clear indicator of parcel excitement, there was considerable surprise when the Kitchen Aid logo was spotted on the sturdy cardboard packaging. Unwrapping revealed the absolute antithesis of the cheap throwaway free recipe books I had in mind.

Just as a Kitchen Aid is a thing of beauty, "The Ultimate Mixer Cookbook" is a beautiful book. Large, sturdy, and beautifully illustrated it conveys the levels of quality that Kitchen Aid presumably want to be associated with. In 176 pages Kitchen Aid have managed to get a brand extension exercise absolutely right. Presentation is critical in a cookery book, and the right note is struck here. Its large format means it stays open on the worktop, the ingredients are clearly spelled out, and the recipes themselves straightforward. In short, this is a cookery book that impresses.

Time will tell how often it gets used, and we'll see whether it acquires the patina of use that indicate a cookery book that fundamentally works. As a functional exercise in promoting Kitchen Aid however it's superb right out of the box. In a time when it could be seen as perfectly justifiable to cut costs and rein in lavish marketing gestures like this, it's delightful that Kitchen Aid are still so focused on making their customers feel liked and appreciated. Why can't more companies be like Kitchen Aid.


  1. Dear Kay Halsey
    The other day I got hold of your book 'The ultimate cookbook'.
    I tried to bake the 'Marble cake' with chocolate flavour. The recipe says to add 750 cl milk.
    The result was a complete disaster. In my opinion must the milk not being added or at least in a lesser quantity.
    Would you please let me know what is right or wrong.
    Kind regards
    Ria Hunsche
    Generaal Gavinstraat 19,
    6585WL Mook The Netherlands

  2. Hi Ria

    I must confess to not being Kay Halsey or to being able to cast too much light on the recipe in question being but a humble collector of books. 750 cl of milk does sound absurd - and in my copy it refers to 750 ml of milk - which is probably a lot more on the money.

    I haven't made it but it does look very good. Might be tempted to have a go. If you have another attempt do let me know how you get on!