They call it the Gourmet Champ.
A high-powered blender, bread maker, mixer and food processor, the all-purpose machine was recently introduced by Kitchenetics from Germany. According to Bailey Center, director of consumer education at Kitchenetics, majority of the people who buy the Champ are of two types: those who have every new machine that comes up (including all expensive heavy-duty mixers, processors, etc.) or those who have nothing at all.
If you have most or even some of the gourmet equipment filling up space on your kitchen counter, would you still buy the Gourmet Champ? The best reason for owning one would be, as we've discovered in The Times' Test Kitchen, the fact that it makes excellent bread in minimal time. No more hand kneading, long rising, punching, resting, punching again--all the time-consuming efforts involved in bread making.
Not only that, the machine produced pure whole-wheat bread of optimum volume and light texture. Every bread baker knows that whole wheat and other whole grains do not make a light, high-rising loaf unless they're combined with white flour.
Another common bread-baking theory is that excessive flour makes a tough bread or roll. The Champ avoids all of this. We followed a Betty Crocker recipe for white bread and instead of using seven to eight cups of flour as the recipe called for, we only worked with 6 1/2 cups of flour in the Champ. Also, not a speck of flour was sprinkled on the board; to keep the dough from sticking, oil was used.
"As the amount of flour needed varies from the day to day," Center explained, "the average housewife has no way of judging the exact amount of flour which absorbs moisture from the air. The machine will also tell you how much flour to use without even measuring. When the dough pulls away from the sides and bottom of the bowl and stays that way, it means that you've used enough flour."
After mixing in the flour, all that's needed is kneading the dough in the machine for six minutes. The dough, still warm from the heat of the liquids, is immediately divided with oiled hands and shaped into loaves and placed in pans. "We recommend warming any bread dough in a 140-degree oven until doubled in bulk," Center said. "In this way, the dough is not disturbed by any moving but stays in the oven to bake at the higher temperature."
No Overheating Threat
The Champ can knead up to 8 1/2 pounds of dough (about four loaves) at one time. Higher than most home mixers' horsepower, a 7.4-amp motor is responsible for the Champ's strength. It is not belt-driven but instead has an all spur gear transmission, eliminating the threat of overheating. However, the strong power and quality of no overheating produce a loud noise level, which requires some getting used to.
Although other heavy-duty mixers are capable of whipping fluffy egg whites, the Champ boasts of high-volume meringue. Two large egg whites whip up to 1 3/4 cups volume, and about two cups with sugar. The mixer attachment is a dual balloon whisk unit that rotates efficiently around the bowl. Not having a motor unit above the whisks enables you to watch the mixing more closely and easily add any ingredient.
The liquefier/blender in the Champ is driven by a motor that spins the blades at more than 18,000 revolutions per minute. The effect shows up when you crush ice cubes. The unbreakable blender bowl is made of smoked Lexan, a strong plastic material used for bullet-proof windows.
As a food processor, the lightweight motor body of the machine is turned on its back to attach the chopping, grating or slicing accessories. It has a feed tube and a direct outflow design for continuous processing. "I can make buckets of coleslaw without having to stop and empty the container," one Champ owner said.
Not standard in the machine are the following attachments, which may be purchased separately: meat grinder, pasta maker with 11 discs, citrus juicer, berry press, sausage stuffer, pastry press-cookie maker and nut grinder.
Every reason about buying the Champ sounds like a worthwhile benefit to the cook. The catch? With all that power, it costs more than the average all-purpose kitchen machine, of course.
The Gourmet Champ has a suggested retail price of $399 and is available at Robinson's department stores. (Robinson's, currently having product demonstrations, has an initial sales promotion at $349, including a free meat grinder valued at $49).