By Eric Capstick
Sunbeam first pioneered 3-way beating action mixers in the 1930’s henceforth revolutionizing mixing for generations of bakers and chefs around the globe. In fact, the Mixmaster may well have been the most popular kitchen appliance of the 20th Century. Today the Sunbeam Mixmaster models have the same art deco elegance, styling and rugged die-cast metal body construction that have distinguished the brand since it was born in the throes of The Great Depression. That the Mixmaster took hold of the public’s imagination in that era despite the fact that most Americans were struggling to make ends meet is a testament to the remarkable value these stand mixers have delivered over the better part of a century.
I remember first falling in love with a Sunbeam Mixmaster in the late 70’s & early 80’s when I was spending a lot of time with Aunt Leslie and Uncle Brad in the Berkshires. Les was a baker and specialized in all sorts of delectable baked goods such as her sourdough baguette made famous at their long-time establishments, Mepal Manor & Spa, Gedney Farm and The Old Inn on The Green, as well as gourmet cookies and my all-time favorite, black-bottom cupcakes. I always loved the smooth and curvy look of her vintage Sunbeam Model 3 cream-colored enamel Mixmaster with its art deco bakelite handle and a gorgeous green milk glass bowl as it winked at me from the farmhouse countertop.
I have baked in fits and starts over the years and got so far as to be unafraid of screwing up the yeast, managing to produce some pretty good fresh loaves of bread. However, the process was always a bit of an ordeal as the kitchen and I invariably ended up completely trashed. I have never been able to maintain the routine of baking fresh bread in part because it generally has taken too much time and energy. When I did bake bread I often found the kneading process to be a pretty good form of exercise and though time-consuming to have a therapeutic effect on me. Rye breads were, however, a thoroughly exhausting and ultimately unsatisfying experience. Kneading the heavy rye dough was extremely difficult even though I’ve got some pretty strong hands. I need one of those beautiful, kick-ass Sunbeam Mixmasters I’d say to myself over and over as I worried that I might be doing permanent damage to the joints of my fingers. You see I’d never actually gotten to use Leslie’s Mixmaster though I’d seen its smooth and relentless operation on any number of occasions.
Until recently I’d only admired Sunbeam stand mixers from afar but I am now virtually giddy with excitement after using a Sunbeam Dual Motor Mixmaster for the first time. I decided to christen the newly-designed red 2349 model from the Heritage Series with a Country Bread recipe from Jacques Pepin. The beauty of this traditional and simple French recipe is that you can choose to bake baguettes or loaves from the 5 lbs of dough it produces. With this innovation Sunbeam has increased the power of the 3-way beating action by adding a second motor dedicated to turning the 4.6 quart polished stainless-steel mixing bowl (or an optional 2.2 quart bowl) on a turntable. Single motor Mixmaster models turn the beater attachments in opposite directions and also power the turntable to turn the bowl in the opposite direction of the outside beater to aid the mixing process. This mechanism is at the core of the Mixmaster’s remarkable ability to complete all manner of mixing tasks efficiently. Now Sunbeam has added a second motor for the rigorous task of turning the bowl and that has very simply made the Sunbeam Dual Motor Mixmaster even more powerful than its predecessors.
This technological upgrade to the Mixmaster was made without compromising the classic and enduring style that made me love it in the first place. The Sunbeam™ Heritage Series™ Dual Motor Mixer (2349) features 12 variable speeds on an easy-to-use dial that allow for superior mixing control regardless of mixing load. The slower speeds are used for mixing flours and kneading dough as the turntable motor turns the bowl slowly to match the speed of the beaters or dough hooks. Higher speeds turn the bowl more quickly in synchronicity with the increased speed of the beaters and can be used for creaming and beating cake batters and icings and at the top of the range, for whipping and aerating ingredients such as egg whites and cream. The Sunbeam Mixmaster comes with three sets of attachments including V-groove beaters, dough hooks and wire whisks that will take care of all the mixing challenges that your kitchen can produce.
The functional design of the Sunbeam Mixmaster features an off-center beater head to make it easy to add ingredients during operation as well as a nifty tilt back lock that facilitates removal of the mixing bowl or changing attachments. Both of the motors are pre-lubricated at the factory and should never need any additional maintenance. The stainless steel plate on the head that shows off the Sunbeam logo recalls the styling of vintage cars from the 50’s & 60’s and the sight of it sent a tingle of exhilaration down my back. I’m now in my first week of Mixmaster bliss and have produced three baguettes, a loaf of Country Bread, Buckwheat Pretzels, two large loaves of Rye Bread, Rose’s Hearth Bread, Double Chocolate Brownies, Popovers, more Pretzels, Gingerbread cookies for a school bake sale and Napoletana pizza dough without so much as breaking a sweat. In the past it was a Herculean effort to produce dough for fresh bread but with the Sunbeam Mixmaster ready to actually knead the dough, it is a breeze. I can’t wait to take my Mixmaster out for another spin tomorrow and whip up the Mocha Cheesecake recipe that came in the box. A Sunbeam Mixmaster will serve you reliably for decades and is a terrific value as well as an essential appliance for your kitchen. If you really like to bake fresh breads, cookies, cakes and other yummy stuff in your oven then you really shouldn’t be without a Mixmaster. The Sunbeam™ Heritage Series™ Dual Motor Mixer (2349) retails for $169.99 and is available at JCPenney stores or on its website.
Introducing Tom Douglas – Chef
Tom Douglas is a remarkably talented chef and entrepreneur credited defining the Northwest Style that has distinguished the Seattle food scene over the past 20 years. In tandem with his wife and business partner, Jackie Cross, Douglas owns five of the most successful and popular restaurants in downtown Seattle. It all began in 1984 with Café Sport but Douglas made an even bigger splash with the widely acclaimed Dahlia Lounge in 1989. While the Dahlia Lounge just celebrated its’ 20th anniversary, Douglas has expanded his operation to include Etta’s, Palace Kitchen, Lola and Serious Pie restaurants, all of which have thrived. Douglas also has catering and event businesses and has published several cookbooks. The Tom Douglas operation has also branched out into the online retail world with a signature cookware product line, Tom Douglas by Pinton, in addition to the Rub With Love collection of spice rubs and sauces for seafood, meat, poultry and vegetables that has continued to grow since its debut in 1999.
Tom Douglas’ mantra as a chef seems to be shaped by a love of simplicity and the good sense to let the splendor of the Pacific Northwest do its’ thing. Douglas stresses that he doesn’t want to get in the way of the natural bounty that can be found every day at the Pike Street Market. At the same time Douglas is attuned to the art of preparing local ingredients in the most enjoyable and delectable way as he did with the famous dry-rubbed salmon dish from his seafood restaurant, Etta’s in 1995. That dish was so popular that customers began asking for rubs to cook with at home leading Tom to sell his salmon and poultry rubs in ziplock bags before launching the Rub With Love line with six distinct rubs a few years later. There are now 13 spice rubs, three teriyaki sauces, a barbeque sauce and a snack mix in the collection. The rubs and sauces are all-natural, gluten-free, and contain no MSG or high fructose corn syrup.
I massaged the Bengal Masala Rub on some lamb chops and found the seared-on flavor to be out of this world. The latest entry to the Rub With Love legacy, Smoky Barbeque Rub, was dynamite when I used it on a couple of steaks the other night. All of the rubs feature time-tested blends of high-quality exotic spice combinations that Douglas has developed over the years in his restaurants, including Chinese 12 Spice, Spicy Tokyo and African Peri Peri among a selection that runs the culinary gamut.
The Tom Douglas by Pinzon cookware line, sold by Amazon, features some of Tom Douglas’ favorite and most trusted tools from the kitchen. Grill aficionados will make spectacular use of the 2-Piece Stainless-Steel Grill-Wok with Removable Lid with its wire mesh design that allows for grilling of smaller items such as fresh vegetables splashed with olive oil or shrimp with rock salt in the shell. Another terrific item for the grill are Douglas’ Stainless-Steel Pronged Kebob Skewers, ingeniously designed with dual skewers and a locking mechanism to handle a hearty combination of kebob goodies on the grill with ease. Finally, I was immediately taken by the Lodge Cast Iron Deep Fryer with Skillet Lid due to its versatility as two frying pans — or use as a slow cooking cauldron for whole birds or roasts. All of the items in the Tom Douglas by Pinzon line are remarkably well-priced on the Amazon site and would surely add a welcome measure of functional design to any kitchen.