Children's appliances review

They may not be enough to keep your children interested in cooking once the novelty has worn off.
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01 .Introduction


Novelty gadgets are a good way to get children away from the TV and into the kitchen.  CHOICE tested four cupcake and doughnut makers, and found that while the gadgets perform reasonably well, the novelty is generally short-lived, leaving them to become yet another appliance taking up storage space in your kitchen cupboard. So, are they really necessary? And can the same foods be created without them?

For more information on Benchtop appliances, see Kitchen.

Please note: this information was current as of November 2009 but is still a useful guide to today's market. 

How we tested

Ease of use Our tester, Fiona Mair, assesses how easy the controls are to use, and the appliances are to clean and store.

Performance She cooks party pies as well as a basic doughnut and cupcake mixture as provided in the instructions. Her eight-year-old daughter, Greta, assists by making cupcakes for the Girl Gourmet using the provided cake and icing sachets. This is not a comparative test, so there are no scores for each product – only a star rating.

Models tested

  • Breville BPI280 Party pie creations
  • Kambrook KDM1 Doughnut factory
  • Sunbeam DM3200 Sprinkles doughnut maker
  • Girl Gourmet cupcake maker

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Breville BPI280 Party Pie Creations

3 stars out of 5

Price: $70

Good points
breville pie cerations
• Very good for making party pies.
• Easy to use and clean the non-stick surface.
• Can also make quiches, muffins and cupcakes.
• Comes with a pie cutter and pie press.
• Makes eight party pies or cupcakes per batch.
• Cord wrap.

Bad points

• Only OK for making cupcakes.
• Fiddly to get the right amount of batter into the wells so the mixture rises enough for browning.

Kambrook KDM1 Doughnut Factory

2 stars out of 5

Price: $45

Good pointskambrook doughnut factory

• Easy to use and clean the non-stick surface.
• Reasonably cheap.
• Cord wrap.

Bad points

• Only OK for making doughnuts.
• The hot plate is exposed around the edge and becomes dangerously hot.
• Tastes like a cupcake rather than a doughnut.
• Fiddly to get the right amount of batter into the wells so the mixture rises enough for browning.
• Makes only six bite-sized doughnuts per batch.
• The temperature fluctuates over time, causing uneven browning.

Sunbeam DM3200 Sprinkles Doughnut Maker

2 stars out of 5

Price: $45

Good pointssunbeam sprinkles

• Good result for making doughnuts.
• Easy to use and clean the non-stick surface.
• Makes five good-sized doughnuts per batch.
• Reasonably cheap.
• Cord wrap.

Bad points

• Tastes like a cupcake rather than a doughnut.
• Fiddly to get the right amount of batter into the wells so the mixture rises enough for browning.
• A fabric piping bag is needed to make filling the bases easier.

Girl Gourmet Cupcake Maker

1 star out of 5

Price: $60-$70 (Refill packs: $14.99 for a pack of nine)

Good pointsgirl-goumet_

• Easy to use.
• Instructions are easy to understand for children aged eight and older.
• Introduction to making cakes and basic cooking skills.

Bad points

• Poor result for making cupcakes.
• Cake and frosting mixes taste very sweet and artificial.
• Makes only one cupcake per mix.
• Need to purchase refill cake and frosting mixes.
• Very expensive toy.


Safety first

Safety should always be the priority when children are cooking and they should learn safe practices right from the start. Even though these gadgets are marketed to children, they all require adult supervision. Your child can learn to follow the recipe and create the mixture by themselves, however the appliances’ hot cooking surfaces mean an adult should oversee the process from there. Even the Girl Gourmet Cupcake Maker needs some adult supervision as it uses the microwave.

External surfaces of any appliances should not exceed a safe temperature to touch, but the Kambrook’s hot plate is exposed around the edge and reaches a dangerously hot temperature of about 130°C.

Yummy or yucky?

These gadgets make slightly healthier alternatives to similar store-bought treats as they require very little oil for cooking, but their products don’t taste like the real deal. The Kambrook and Sunbeam doughnut makers make baked doughnuts, whereas true doughnuts incorporate yeast to create the fluffy texture and are deep-fried to crisp the outside.

The Girl Gourmet makes only one cupcake at a time and the manufacturer recommends using only its cake and icing mixes, making it a very expensive toy. The cupcakes have an artificially sweet taste and need to be eaten immediately before they become dry and hard. Our eight-year-old tester found it easy to use without help from mum, but said she wouldn’t use the cake mixes provided, preferring instead to make cupcakes in the oven and only use the toy for decorating.

The Breville makes party pies perfectly in only six to eight minutes, allowing you to experiment with sweet and savoury flavours, however, it doesn’t perform as well for cupcakes as getting the right amount of batter into the wells is fiddly.

Keeping kids interested

These novelty gadgets may seem like a lot of fun, but you can teach your children to create the same or similar foods without them and still make cooking enjoyable. For cupcakes, all you need is a cupcake tin, cases, icing and decorations. You can create party pies by lining the base of a muffin tin with fresh or frozen shortcrust pastry, add your favourite filling and top each with a layer of puff pastry. Because authentic doughnuts are deep-fried, they’re not as easy to make at home but you can make circular shapes with a doughnut cutter or by joining the ends of a skinny piece of dough.

The key to getting kids into the kitchen is to keep things simple and make it a positive experience. Some children can be enticed by colour or a theme, whereas others thrive knowing they’ve helped to create a meal the whole family will enjoy.

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