For those who struggle to control an electric whisk, the thought of spending pounds 269 on a food mixer will seem bizarre. But Americans have been paying this way since 1919, when the Kitchen Aid multi-purpose mixer was launched. Should we be following their example?

Well, the Kitchen Aid certainly looks stylish in a like-your-grandmother- used-to-have kind of way (unsurprising since the current model was designed in 1937) - but there's more to it than that. For pounds 269 (for a range of enamel colours) or pounds 449 (for chrome), you get a whisk, dough hook, flat beater and a stainless steel bowl, all made of chunky metal and plastic and built to last. These tools do a better-than-average job because the beater head moves around the bowl at the same time as spinning, giving maximum coverage.

But this mixer really comes into its own when you add the extra appliances - pounds 139 for a standard pack which includes a fruit/vegetable strainer, slicer and food grinder - soups, hamburgers, breadcrumbs and fruit puree will be no effort. The downside is that these require a fluent understanding of manufacturer-assembly-guide speak. If you only pull this mixer out once a year you'll have forgotten how to use it.

The Kitchen Aid is the Aga of kitchen appliances - designed for serious home cooks. Like an Aga you need to take time getting to understand its foibles, but once mastered, you should be in for a long and happy relationship. Expect it to last a lifetime.

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