Tefal Cake Factory on table
Review

Hands-on review: Tefal Cake Factory

Image credit: Tefal

Easy-to-use, all-in-one baking system lets bakers of all ages make cakes for any special occasion. Tell it what ingredients you’ve got and it’ll even suggest a recipe.

Tefal’s Cake Factory is billed as the UK’s first ‘precision cake maker’ and, casting around for alternatives, it’s easy to see why. The only even vaguely comparable products are smaller machines that look more like sandwich toasters, with metal plates and no temperature controls.

The Tefal, on the other hand, is much more versatile and designed to be safe enough that children can prepare and then bake a dessert all by themselves while you make dinner. There are five automatic programs, plus there’s a free app with more than 200 recipes. If the thought of cake and using a tablet doesn’t get the kids cooking, nothing will!

The attractive white and fuchsia machine takes up roughly the same worktop space as a slow cooker. It comes with three cooking trays: one is an aluminium non-stick for larger tray bakes such as brownies, the others are both silicone with a rigid reinforced rim so the contents won’t tip out when you lift them. One is for six small rectangular cakes, the other for six round ones. The latter is the most innovative; the cups collapse for storage which also means you can pop them up to gently ease out soft-centred puddings such as lava cakes. More on that later.

Tefal Cake Factory control panel

Image credit: Tefal

Controls are simple: use the plus and minus buttons to select from the five programs (tray cake, cupcakes, lava cakes, meringues, chocolate melting) or a manual setting. On manual, you can pick a temperature from 40°C to 240°C in 5°C increments. Cooking time is from 2 to 120 minutes. There’s no timer delay.

Setting it up, we felt the 90cm power cable was too short. Also, the handle at the back makes it easier to lift the machine to some extent, but if you carry it as you would a briefcase and the lid comes open, the trays could fall out. It would be better if you could securely lock the lid when not in use.

Our junior testers (aged 10 and 11) couldn’t wait to try it out and chose to make chocolate lava cakes. This uses two of the Tefal’s programs. First, you melt the chocolate and butter in the aluminium tray. The kids found the controls intuitive enough and it was a very safe way for them to melt ingredients, compared with the boiling water of a bain marie or the guesswork of zapping in the microwave.

The melting worked perfectly and took six minutes, which was a bit slower than other methods but safer. That said, the children found it tricky to pick up the hot metal tray safely in order to tip the contents into a mixing bowl. Soft grips at the sides of the tray would have helped.

The next step was to mix all the ingredients together. This seemed well explained to an adult but the instructions need to be even more idiot-proof if children are to cook independently. My ten-year-old honestly checked with me that he should crack open the eggs, not just throw them in whole. Fair point. One day, there might be a machine that does this bit for you, too.

The combined ingredients were then poured into the tray with six round, pop-up silicone moulds and cooked for 16 minutes. The machine beeped loudly and persistently when done, so we heard it from the next room.

Again, handling the hot tray was the only challenge, but this time at least the contents were more solid. We could pick up the tray with one hand and push up the underside of each mould with a tea towel to release the cakes without damaging them.

The results were pleasantly gooey in the centre and very rich and chocolatey. They’re not large, but one with a dollop of ice cream melting on top is plenty.

Tefal Cake factory with cakes

Image credit: Tefal

There’s a recipe booklet included, but the free Cake Factory app is much more fun. You can browse for recipes or tell the app what’s in the fridge and get suggestions. Start a recipe and it will talk you through it, step by step. There’s even an optional timer where relevant, although the machine beeps when it’s finished anyway. The app is simply for recipes and they aren’t visual – the children would have enjoyed photos and even videos of techniques – but it’s engaging and works well. Recipes include vegan and gluten-free options and desserts such as crumbles and meringues, as well as cakes and muffins.

In all, we’d consider this a good gift for keen young cooks who would like to cook small quantities of desserts independently. It’s pricey but feels fun and it’s safer than reaching into an oven. You could definitely let children cook the afters alongside you with minimal supervision while you make the mains. They will enjoy the app and teach themselves the basics of cooking. Afterwards, you can teach them to do the dishes – the good news is that the pans are very easy to clean.

£169.99 tefal.com

Alternatives

American Originals 3 in 1 Treat Maker

Good value for a small machine that looks like a sandwich toaster, but has interchangeable non-stick plates for cooking four doughnuts, nice cake pops or a solitary waffle.

£29.99 argos.co.uk

Global Gizmos 51390 Fun 6 Brownie Maker

Pretty in pink, this cooks six small brownies and promises a cool touch handle, but the non-stick plates themselves will be hot, so it won’t be much safer than cooking in an oven.

£16.98 amazon.co.uk

Gourmet Gadgetry Vintage Cupcake and Muffin Maker

This cooks seven mini cupcakes in just a few minutes, with easy-to-clean, non-stick plates top and bottom.

£25.99 amazon.co.uk

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