Whether you're looking to buy a new Iron, Kettle, Bread Maker or one of our many other kitchen appliances, you might be a little spoilt for choice - or even confused with all the geeky techno-jargon. But have no fear, we've put together this handy buyer's guide to help make it as easy as possible for you to find just what you're looking for.
There are essentially three types for iron to consider when making a purchase - Dry Irons, Steam Irons and Steam Generators.
Dry Irons use an electrically heated soleplate to transfer heat to clothes, and don't use steam in any way. These are the least effective types of iron and Breville doesn't feature them in the range such is the improvement in performance and the availability of the Steam Iron.
Steam Irons use an on-board water tank to heat and transfer steam through small holes in the soleplate, using steam power as well as electrical heat to effectively iron clothes etc. These are the most common types of iron, and a steam iron generally exists to suit all needs and budgets.
Steam Generators use a separate large water tank to heat water and generate large volumes of steam and heat, transferred through a handheld iron unit. Larger and more expensive, steam generators are well suited to busy households with large volumes of laundry.
Steam is measured in grams per minute, as a general rule more steam means better, easier ironing.
'Constant' steam is the amount of steam generated in normal use. Constant steam can vary between around 20g per minute on more basic steam irons to 120g on powerful steam generators. On irons that feature 'Variable Steam' the amount of constant steam can be altered depending on the needs of the user.
'Shot of Steam' is the burst of steam that offers that extra boost to remove stubborn creases. Steam shots can vary between 25g per minute and 180g, depending on the model of iron.
'Vertical Steam' is a function that allows the iron to be used vertically to steam hanging clothes or curtains.
Generally, higher wattages produce both an increased amount of steam and reduced heat-up times. Breville irons range from 1600w for basic models, right the way up to 3000w on the top-of-the-range TECHnique models.
The material used for the soleplate influences the speed and smoothness of your ironing. Basic irons will feature a Non-Stick soleplate, mid-range irons will often use Stainless Steel soleplates, whilst the best irons will use Ceramic soleplates. Each step-up should provide a better 'glide' than the last as you tackle your ironing.
Irons will also sometimes use special coatings such as Cerasol or Tourmaline, which provide advanced 'glidability' on premium iron models.
Irons will have either Manual or Digital temperature controls.
Manual controls mean that the temperature is altered using a dial incorporating the appropriate settings for different fabric types.
Digital controls mean that the user selects the correct temperature by choosing the fabric setting using buttons, often assisted by a digital display.
Steam irons all use an on-board water tank. The larger the tank, the less re-filling required, although obviously size and weight is increased proportionately.
A longer power cord gives greater manoeuvrability and longer reach.
Anti-drip functions allow steam ironing at lower temperatures without 'drips' from the soleplate that can mark clothing or affect performance.
Anti-scale features help to prevent the build up of limescale in the iron and on the soleplate.
'Self-Clean' - A self clean feature is the option to press a button and make the iron run through a cycle that will flush out impurities from the water via the holes in the soleplate.
'Auto Shut-Off' - This is a handy safety feature that automatically switches off the iron after a period of inactivity, typically about 10 minutes in an upright position or 30 seconds when horizontal.
'Dry Tank Alert' - The iron gives off a beep or an alarm when the water tank is empty.
There are of course endless different styles and varieties of kettles, but on a basic level these can be placed into obvious families. The most common type of kettle is the Jug kettle, which is categorised by the position of the handle being at the rear of the kettle as opposed to on the top. The other widely seen type of kettle is the Traditional kettle, with it's handle positioned over the top of the kettle and based on the traditional stove-top kettle shape. Which basic type of kettle will best suit you is really down to personal preference. Performance is very similar across these two varieties of kettle, and it really boils down to which you think looks best in your kitchen.
These days, technological innovation has led to new kettle types being widely introduced to the market. The two most significant developments have been the emergence of the Filter kettle and of Hot Water on Demand units. Filter kettles use a replaceable filter cartridge (such as a BRITA® Maxtra Filter Cartridge) to remove impurities from the water before and as you boil it. These are especially good for hard water areas as they help to prevent scaling and offer a better taste to hot drinks. Cartridges can be easily replaced and are generally widely available. Breville has teamed up with BRITA, the UK's leading filter specialists, and our filter kettles use BRITA® Maxtra cartridges. A countdown display memo will indicate when the cartridge needs changing - ideally about every 4 weeks.
Hot Water on Demand products dispense hot water at the touch of a button, saving energy as you simply boil and dispense the water you actually need. These products are particularly useful for people who like to save time, are unable to lift a full kettle to pour, and of course, the energy conscious among us!
Usually measured in litres, the modern kettle is most commonly designed to accommodate about 6 - 8 cups. Compact kettles, such as those at about 1 litre in size, are lighter and more energy efficient, and are ideal for smaller households or elderly individuals.
As a general rule, the higher the wattage of a kettle, the shorter the boiling time. Most 'fastboil' or 'rapid boil' kettles will be approximately 3000 watts (3kW).
There are two main types of heating elements in kettles: Immersed (max 2.2 kW) and Concealed (max 3 kW). An Immersed element would often be found in less expensive models but can be prone to scaling and generally require a larger minimum amount of water to function, as the element has to be completely immersed in the water to function safely. A Concealed element is easier to clean and more energy efficient than an Immersed element, requiring a lower minimum water level in order to function safely.
Most kettles, including the full range of Breville kettles, are cordless, meaning they can easily be lifted away from the base for easy filling and pouring. Many bases are also 360°, meaning the kettle can be replaced on the base in any upright position - ideal for both left and right handed users. Often bases feature 'cord storage' where the cable can be wrapped up inside the base, out of sight and shorter depending on your needs.
A water gauge or window will indicate the water level, helping you fill the kettle to the desired amount. A larger or illuminated window will make it easier to judge the correct amount of water.
When considering purchasing a toaster, you have the choice between 2 Slice models and 4 Slice models. Your preference between these is likely to be based on your needs or wishes. A busy family household would most likely make good use of a 4 slice model, for instance. Look out for 'Independent Two Slice Controls' on 4 slice toaster models, as this means that you can independently use and control each side of the toaster (so you can do 2 slices to a completely different preference to the second 2 slices).
The type of controls may also be a deciding factor, with both manual and digital controls available.
Beyond that, toasters are separated mainly by their features and functions, most of which we can help to explain here.
A feature that incorporates numbered control settings to determine how well your toast is cooked, so you can have light, medium or dark toast. This is a standard feature on most modern toasters.
Variable width bread slots
Variable width bread slots automatically adjust to the width of bread you are toasting, meaning the best possible result no matter the bread you use.
Slot size can vary from toaster to toaster. Wider and deeper slots are desirable as they allow larger and wider items to be toasted fully and without becoming stuck.
A Defrost function on a toaster automatically lengthens the toasting time to allow for the defrosting of frozen bread.
A Reheat function on a toaster automatically reduces the toasting time so that cooled toast can be brought back to temperature, without burning the toast.
Cancel (or mid-cycle cancel)
This is simply the facility to stop the toasting process as and when you want to.
This is the ability to slightly raise the bread carriage, allowing you to remove smaller items such as crumpets and bagels without burning your fingers!
This is a tray in the base of the toaster that collects any crumbs that may fall from the bread as you toast it, which can then be removed and cleaned easily.
Bun-Warming Rack - Some toasters may come with a bun-warming rack included, which is a small wire rack that sits neatly above the toasting slots, giving you the option of lightly warming items such as buns and croissants.
Bagel / Crumpet Setting - This is an option that reduces the power on one side, meaning bagels and crumpets are toasted to perfection top and bottom.
Countdown Indicator / Progress Indicator - This is an indication (usually a digital display) of how long remains in the toasting cycle.
Lift & Look - This clever feature allows you to check progress by lifting the toast out of the slots without disturbing the toasting cycle.
Fast Toast - Fast Toast models are toasters that use the latest in toasting technology to speed up the process without sacrificing performance or the resulting taste.
Blenders can be used for liquidising, making soups, cake mixtures, batters, dressings, dips, pesto and sauces in addition to chopping nuts and herbs.
A traditional blender, unlike a hand blender or immersion blender, comprises of a stainless steel or plastic base that houses a motor. The more expensive stainless steel units tend to be more resilient to damage and stronger, yet they can be heavy and difficult to move. Furthermore many higher quality plastic versions can replicate this desirable silver finish and durability, in addition to being easier to manoeuvre.
The jug with its blades positioned inside, sits on top of the base, connecting to the motor. This can then be detached allowing you to transport both the jug and the ingredients to where they are required. The blender lid, which can either be made of rubber or plastic, with or without a rubber seal, will stop the liquid overflowing or splashing. Many blenders have a stopper in the lid, sometimes known as a "two piece lid", which can be removed during use, allowing additional ingredients to be added.
In addition to practicality, it is normally desirable for blenders to be attractive and in-keeping with the kitchens décor as they can become a permanent feature in most kitchens.
The blades will usually be made from stainless steel as this metal does not rust or corrode, in addition to having antibacterial properties. They will be positioned in various angles in order to provide the largest surface area for the ingredients to come into contact with. Serrated blades increase the appliances' ability to puree a wider variety of ingredients. The blades will either be fixed permanently in the jug or can be removed to allow for easier cleaning.
The material of the jug can either be plastic or glass, with the latter associated with a higher price tag. Plastic is perfectly viable for general, everyday use however there is a higher possibility of discolouration and marking over extended periods of use. Glass, although more resilient, is considerably heavier and more difficult for pouring and transporting the blender jug.
Jug Capacity and Wattage
The capacity of the jug is normally described in litres and will generally be between 1 to 2 litres for domestic appliances. In most cases the smaller the capacity the lower the wattage as the ingredients will be situated nearer the blades.
The level of wattage reflects the power and speed that the blades rotate. In order to crush ice successfully you need a blender that is a minimum of 500 watts. You will naturally get a stronger result with a higher wattage. The better quality blenders tend to be more powerful, have a quieter motor and produce less vibration than their cheaper alternatives
Blenders will have a set amount of blade speeds which are appropriate for the type of ingredients that you wish to puree, ranging from one speed to numerous preset functions. Most blenders will often include a pulse button which will allow you to produce a sudden burst of liquidising with a quicker reaction time.
Variable speed controls let you increase or decrease the blades power during the cycle giving you more control over the amount of blending. Blenders with pre-set functions are tailored specifically to the particular ingredient and will run at the appropriate speed and power, stopping automatically when the process is complete.
In its basic form, a food processor consists of a bowl with a handle and removable blades in the centre of it; this is attached to a motor that is housed in a base unit. The processor lid fits tightly to the bowl to prevent the ingredients overflowing, and this normally has a feeding tube and food pusher so that ingredients can be added from the top during processing.
Processors have a wide variety of uses as they can chop vegetables, fruits, herbs and nuts; make dips, dressings and bread crumbs; whisk egg whites and cream, mix cakes, biscuits and batters; knead dough; and mince meat.
In addition to blades, more complex versions can include a wide variety of additional features such as attachments for slicing and grating foods like cheese or carrots, and specific accessories for whisking and kneading. Processors with a Dual Drive System will have separate blenders or juicers that replace the food processor bowl on the unit. It is important to consider what additional features will be useful to you personally.
The processor bowl is generally either made from plastic or glass, with the latter commanding a higher price tag. Glass will be more durable against any damage however it will be heavier, making it harder to move. Plastic bowls may experience some chipping or discolouration over prolonged use however they are less likely to break if dropped and are lightweight for easier cleaning and moving.
The working capacity of the bowl will be stated in litres and kilograms allowing you to select a processor that is suitable for your cooking needs. Small quantities of food will benefit from a smaller bowl so they are not thrown away from the blades. Some processors provide the option of different sized bowls to suit all tasks.
Stainless steel is the material most commonly used for blades and it is important they are handled carefully as they are sharp. They will tend to be removable and are normally attached to a spindle making them safer to hold. Overtime they may become blunt and therefore will eventually need to be replaced or professionally sharpened.
For safety the blades will not turn until the jug and the lid are locked into place. Usually there will be markings on the unit to indicate the position of this locking mechanism.
There are two types of motors generally used for food processors, either the commonly used Universal system, which is controlled manually, or the Induction motor which runs at a rate specific to the ingredients, as it takes into account the resistance and senses the appropriate speed to turn. Induction motors will tend to have a price considerably higher than those with Universal motors.
A viable compromise between the two motors is choosing an appliance with a Universal motor that includes pre-programmed functions which work at an applicable speed and power for the particular task selected. .
The pulse button can prevent food from being over processed as it causes a fast reacting burst of power that allows a greater level of control. Variable speeds are an additional feature on some processors which increases or decreases the power whilst the blades are turning.
The wattage amount reflects the speed in which the blades will turn and the maximum wattage of a food processor is normally approximately 1200 watts with the lower end versions being around 250 watts. Usually the higher the wattage the more expensive the unit; however their performance will also be determined by the size of processor and the blade.
Hand blenders are a compact and portable version of a blender and are used for liquidising, chopping, mixing and puréeing. They make easy work of creating soups, sauces, milkshakes and smoothies. They are also ideal for blending healthy and nutritious baby food. Hand held blenders, opposed to standard blenders, are portable and can be used directly in a bowl or pan, limiting the need for additional jugs to clean. The blender legs are also detachable so can be easily cleaned between ingredients, for blending different food types. Many Breville hand blenders also feature additional accessories which cover a variety of tasks such as chopping nuts, crushing ice and whisking egg whites.
All Breville hand blenders feature a main body, which houses the motor, and a detachable blender leg. The leg can either be made of plastic or stainless steel. Stainless steel legs are durable and resistant to rusting, however plastic legs will provide the same results at a more affordable price, but are slightly less durable over time. The Breville hand blender range has been specially designed so the handles contour the shape of your hand for better control and more comfortable use. Many Breville hand blenders also feature a soft touch grip panel around the back of the handle which also give better control and allows you to retain a stable hold when blending at high speeds.
All Breville hand blenders feature stainless steel chopping blades within the blender leg and chopper attachments. In the blender leg, the blades are positioned so they sit lower, to be fully immersed in the ingredients. They are surrounded by a plastic or metal blender head, which also acts as an anti splash guard. The blender leg features a curved edge, which allows the ingredients to easily flow towards and away from the blade, ensuring smooth results. Most Breville hand blenders feature a two tip blade, however several of the premium models feature a four tip blade. This provides the optimum blade surface area for achieving smooth results quickly, making blending easier. For every rotation of the blade shaft, there are four blades working through the food instead of two, giving double the cutting ability.
Breville hand blenders have a minimum of a powerful 400w power, which controls the rate in which the blades rotate. They range up to an 800w power motor, featured on the most premium models. Speeds settings vary from 2 speeds to variable speeds, which give the greatest control. For safety, the power buttons have to be continuously held down whilst blending or chopping, which prevents the unit from being left running. Breville hand blenders also feature an additional safety aspect of recessed buttons. This prevents the unit from being accidentally powered when laid on its side.
In addition to the blending leg, all Breville hand blenders include a blending beaker, which also acts as a measuring beaker, with measuring guide lines on the sides. Milkshakes, baby food and smoothies can be instantly created by adding ingredients to the beaker and inserting the blending leg to blend. Many Breville hand blenders also feature additional accessories of a food chopper and a stainless steel whisk. The food choppers all feature measuring guidelines and stainless steel chopping blades. These are ideal for chopping a wide variety of ingredients, such as nuts, ice, vegetables, herbs, dips, salsa, breadcrumbs and much more. The whisk attachment can be used to whip cream, egg whites, create batters and much more. The versatility of these attachments means that, with a 3 in 1 hand blender set, you can complete a wide variety of tasks with the one compact and portable appliance.
Slow cookers or crock pots are becoming increasingly popular due to current busy lifestyles. They give you the option to prepare a meal in the morning and then leave it to slowly cook so that it is ready to serve in the evening. This method also allows flavours to develop more fully and meat to tenderise.
They primarily consist of a metal base with a heating element, which will either be on the underside or surrounding the pot. The latter is thought to be better for even heat distribution throughout the dish. Most bases tend to be stainless steel although there are options of other colours such as black or cream. Machines tend to have small feet to give a small gap between the unit and the kitchen top to allow air to circulate underneath and the heat to disperse.
Into the base fits a removable pot, which is usually ceramic. These are heavy, durable and will retain the heat well, allowing them to act as a serving dish to be carried to the table. A removable lid tends to be made of toughened glass which enables the cooking process to be monitored.
There are round, oval, square or rectangle shaped cookers, although those with rounded edges can be easier to clean. The slow cooker capacity is normally measured by the amount of liquid the unit holds and most appliances tend to range from 3.5 to 6.5 litres, although there are some smaller 1 to 2 litre versions available. It is important to assess whether a higher capacity would suit your needs as there is no reason for buying a large cooker unless you need substantial quantities of food. However it is common that people use a larger slow cooker to make a meal, and then freeze half to re-heat at another time.
Generally the cooking functions will have 'Low' and 'High' settings, and some have the addition of a ‘Medium’ setting. 'Low' cooks over longer periods of time, approximately 8 hours or more and 'High' will cook food within around 4 hours. Some cookers include an 'Auto Cook' setting, which will start on “High” for an hour or so and then automatically reduce the heat to "Low". This is recommended for achieving the best results. Another common function is a ‘Keep Warm’ setting, which will keep your meal at the right temperature until you are ready to serve. Some appliances have digital displays, timers and automatic transitions from cooking to “Keep Warm”. These functions tend to be associated with more expensive versions.
Other features that are helpful are cool touch handles and sides which make the machine safer to use, and cord storage or a removable cord so that it is not an inconvenience if you want to place the cooker on the table.
Homemade bread in comparison to bought loaves is cheaper, tastes superior and healthier as you can control the amount of fat, salt and additives. Using a bread machine can make the whole process easier as it performs every stage of the preparation and cooking.
Inside the unit is a detachable bread pan which is likely to have a non-stick coating to allow the bread to be easily removed. Fitted into the pan is a removable “kneading paddle” which is turned by the motor, working the ingredients so that it forms a dough. In most machines the paddle remains in the bread pan whilst baking, so a small hole is left in the loaf when it is removed. Some versions are now available where the paddle will lower during the baking process, preventing a cavity forming in the base of the loaf. At the top of the unit there will be a lid that has a viewing window enabling you to check on the process. On some units the lid can be opened during the baking stage so that toppings can be added.
After the initial mixing and kneading, the appliance will slowly warm to the correct temperature for the proving stage, followed by more kneading. In the next stage of the cycle the machine will warm again ensuring the optimum conditions for the bread to rise. Lastly the appliance will heat to a higher temperature and bake the bread. Most bread machines will beep when they have reached the end of the baking process, and either switch off or go to a keep warm setting.
When choosing a bread maker it is important to assess your needs against how much you are willing to spend. For example as fresh bread does not have a very long shelf life, you may not want to bake large loaves, and therefore a cheaper, smaller machine would be sufficient. In most cases the bread capacity will be shown as a weight, and they tend to make loaves ranging from between approximately 450g to 1 kg. Most commonly there will be a choice of three sizes of loaf.
Many appliances will also have a variable crust setting which allows the bread to be baked light, medium or dark. Machines that have pre-programmed functions will have specific cycles tailored to prepare different types of bread. Usually these will include the standard White and Wholemeal loaves and then other breads like Multi Grain, Rye, French, Gluten Free, Soda Bread, Sweet or Fruit Breads. Some bread makers will include settings for Pizza Dough, Fresh Pasta, Cake, Jam and Bake, which cooks already mixed ingredients. Most loaves take around 3 hours to bake, however some machines feature a Fast setting, which can cook a loaf of bread in around 60 minutes to 2 hours depending on the appliance.
A few higher end machines give you the option to pre-program your own bread recipes, which may be a useful option for the more experienced cooks.
On a program where extra ingredients need to be added, for example a Fruit Bread, the machine will beep to indicate that they need to be put in to the machine. Some units however have an automatic ingredients dispenser. This is normally attached to the lid of the unit and if filled with your chosen ingredient, it will automatically dispense into the bread pan at the correct time, which allows you to leave the machine until the cycle has finished.
Often bread machines will include a recipe guide and possibly measuring spoons and cups, which all make it simpler to add the correct ingredients.
Many appliances have a Delayed Start Time, with the maximum reaching about 13 hours. This is ideal for programming at night, to wake up freshly made bread in the morning.
Stand mixers are useful for mixing cake mixtures and icing, whipping egg whites and cream, and making homemade mayonnaise. Furthermore they can be used to mash potatoes, knead dough and to make dips and sauces. Their primary advantage over handheld versions is their increased level of power, meaning they are more suited to heavier mixing tasks. As they are free standing they leave your hands available to add additional ingredients and to control the speed whilst the unit is in motion.
When choosing a stand mixer it is important to decide whether you require it for preparing lighter ingredients, for example mixing batters, cakes and whipping, or for more rigorous jobs like kneading dough. Standard mixers will tend to include a generic pair of beaters which are ideal for completing a range of tasks. Some models may include separate attachments specifically shaped for processing different types of ingredients, such as a whisk with thinner spindles, a flat sided beater or dough hooks. The attachments are usually removable and twist and lock into the motor head. Most models feature a release button to tilt the mixer head up, giving easy access when changing the beater attachments.
Standard designs tend to have two beaters rotating in a stationary off centre position. Some mixers now feature a rotating bowl, which greatly increases the area the beaters can reach. For example the bowl on the Breville Stand and Hand Mixer turns at two speeds giving controlled and even mixing.
As an alternative to the standard mixers, some appliances have one large beater which rotates, whilst the motor head turns at the same time, causing the beater to spiral around the bowl, ensuring a higher degree of coverage. This is often called a planetary mixing action. Machines with this type of motor are usually considerably more expensive.
The mixer bowl will either be made of plastic or stainless steel, with the latter being considered to be the superior option due to its durability. Some models will have a number of speed settings which allows greater control. It is essential that the machine has a low speed setting for the first phase of mixing to avoid the ingredients splashing.
The power in which the beaters rotate is displayed in the wattage, with most units ranging from between 200 watts to about 1500 watts. The power of the mixer is important to consider if you require it to work harder on heavier tasks like making dough, as you would need a unit with a minimum of 500 watts. A higher wattage will also ensure a greater level of durability for prolonged periods of use as the motor will be less likely to burn out. As with most appliances the lower power versions will tend to be cheaper. However the most expensive models may not always have the highest power but will include other attributes that also reflect the price.
Hand mixers are an excellent helping hand in the kitchen and make light work of tasks such as whipping cream and egg whites, creating meringues, mixing batters and mashing potatoes. Standard hand mixers are best suited to these lighter tasks, however higher powered versions are available that are suitable for heavy mixing and kneading. In comparison to fixed stand mixers, hand held appliances will tend to be less expensive and are a fitting alternative if you require an appliance that is both compact and easier to store. Their portability allows you to mix ingredients in various bowls and pans. It is also thought that because they allow the user to “feel” the mixture, it provides a greater level of control.
The unit will comprise of a main body which houses the motor, a horizontal handle, a speed setting dial and removable beaters. On most standard appliances the main body will most likely be plastic, yet there are metal versions available. Metal units may have additional durability, however will usually be a higher cost. Some appliances will have a “rest” which allows it to be placed upright in the mixing bowl when it is not in use. As Hand Mixers have to be moved and held manually it is important that they are generally lightweight and comfortable to grip. They should also be relatively quiet and not vibrate too much as this will be unpleasant during long periods of use.
Most appliances will have detachable twin beaters that twist or push and lock into the unit, although some may include triple beaters which can have a greater mixing ability by increasing the level of aeration. In most cases the beaters will remain locked in the unit until a release button is pressed, preventing them becoming detached during use. Several hand mixers will also include other attachments, for example dough hooks or various sized beaters.
Hand mixers generally have a power of between 100 watts and 400 watts. The higher wattage provides greater power and better performance. Most models feature a variable speed setting which enables a greater level of control, especially with a “slow start” which helps avoid splashing and over mixing.