Gadget rehabilitation: the Magimix

I have to admit that when it comes to cooking, I’m in Gadget Heaven. But I’ve noticed that one old faithful has become rather neglected of late – the Magimix food processor.

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A Magimix was the first proper kitchen machine that we ever bought, soon after we were married. It had pride of place in our tiny galley kitchen in the 1970s, and helped conjure up what were then quite sophisticated dishes for dinner parties.

We still have fond memories of serving an (allegedly) Indian dish one evening: koftas made with minced lamb formed around baby carrots. But the glory of the dish was the dipping sauce, a sort of hot aioli. You can’t make tiny quantities in a Magimix, so we produced nearly a pint of this sauce, containing at least a dozen whole heads of garlic. Our friends absolutely loved it, and, spurred on by vodka, asked for teaspoons with which to finish the jug. They were due to fly out on a skiing holiday next morning, and when they returned they blamed us bitterly for the refusal of fellow passengers to sit next to them on the aeroplane, so garlicky were they.

That original Magimix is long gone, and we now have a 5200XL, with three differently sized containers and a variety of blades. So why has it slipped from “pride of place” to “not much used any more”? After all, it can do a lot of kitchen prep tasks. Is it that it can do a whole bunch of things, but by modern standards, none of them very well?

So I set out consciously to bring the Magimix into play, and see whether it should be resurrected or sent to the back of the cupboard for ever.

The first step was to make a batch of sourdough bread, which was indeed successful. It was something of a “bitsa”, finishing off some wholemeal rye and some buckwheat made up with Stoates organic white and a helping of sunflower seeds. I started it off in bulk, left it to rise, then used the Magimix to knock back individual loaf-sized portions and mix in the sunflower seeds.

Transferring around 750g of well-hydrated dough into the mixing bowl wasn’t too bad. Adding 100g of seeds and using the pulse function to mix it was fast and efficient. Removing the result from the Magimix was slow and messy. Washing up the sticky dough blade and bowl was a real chore. But we ended up with 9 nice crusty loaves.

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The next step was to make a single loaf using the dedicated baking tin that is an optional extra with the machine. It’s rather a curious device in that it has a circular hole in the base to accommodate the centre post of the mixing bowl.

This makes life much easier. You simply add the dry ingredients, exactly as you would for a breadmaker, pulse them briefly to mix, then add the water and mix the dough. Unlike a breadmaker or mixer, the dough is mixed very rapidly and rather violently. It’s rather friendlier to sourdough production than yeast dough, although not ideal for either. But a breadmaker isn’t great for sourdough, unless it’s also yeasted. And the timings are under your own control with the Magimix, unlike the set programs on the breadmaker.

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You leave the dough to rise in the machine for as long as it takes, then knock it back with a quick pulse of the dough blade. The tin can then be lifted out and the plastic dough blade removed and scraped down. This is the only messy part of the process. The lid and plastic bowl may be a bit dusty, but a quick rinse sees to that.

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The tin is placed on a sheet of baking foil (the hole in the base now being exposed) and the dough left to prove. And it bakes beautifully!

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Conclusion: If I’m making a single loaf, I’ll use the Magimix for sourdough but the breadmaker for yeasted bread.

In spite of the hole in the pan, the loaf doesn't leak through it.

In spite of the hole in the pan, the loaf doesn’t leak through it.

Vitamix soup and Magimix buckwheat sourdough for lunch.

Vitamix soup and Magimix buckwheat sourdough for lunch.

Finally, I made a cottage pie. The Magimix shredded some carrots, chopped some onions, and pulped some tomatoes. It does pretty well at all those jobs, although there are always a few larger lumps that need to be picked out when you shred vegetables. It reminded me that one reason we don’t use the machine so frequently is that we don’t do larger scale catering so much these days except for the occasional charity event. Once upon a time we’d regularly do 80 meals at a go, when chopping 10 kilos of onions and 5 kilos of carrots made a food processor worthwhile.

Last of all I used another optional extra – the food mill. We like our mashed potatoes fairly dry, put through a ricer. Well, there’s a Magimix gadget for that. I’d read a review that said it worked brilliantly, and only lost marks because of the washing up! This was the first time that I’d used it, and the review was spot on.

Wonderful mashed potato ...

Wonderful mashed potato …

... not-so-wonderful washing up!

… not-so-wonderful washing up!

The finished cottage pie.

The finished cottage pie.

So after all that, has the Magimix earned its place once again? Well, we’ve got a few dinners to do in the New Year – only 25 people at a time, a mere bagatelle. But it’ll certainly be useful for those occasions so it won’t be pensioned off quite yet!

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