Choosing the right Oven
A wall oven is the most popular choice of cooker for fitted kitchens. Wall ovens can be installed either under bench or in an oven tower, which might combine a second oven or a microwave. A double oven will need to be installed in a tower cabinet because of its height. There is an enormous choice of ovens with up to 12-functions, which can be confusing.
Most electric ovens come with a choice of cooking functions, the most common of which are:
- Conventional Bake: the oven is heated by heating elements at the bottom and top of the oven. This setting is suitable for most oven cooked foods. Oven temperature will be hotter at the top.
- Bottom Bake: the oven is heated by the bottom element only. Often used for foods requiring a crisp base but not too much browning on the top, such as pies, pizzas and quiches. Oven temperature will be hotter at the top. The bottom bake setting is also first choice for casseroles, which require more bottom heat, more time and no browning.
- Fan Assisted Bake: the oven is heated by the top and bottom elements with air being circulated by a fan. The fan has the effect of providing a more even heat at all levels of the oven and is used when cooking foods on several trays, which require the same temperature.
- Fan Assisted Bottom Bake: the oven is heated only by the bottom element with air being circulated by the fan. The fan will circulate air to even out the temperature throughout the oven.
- Fan Forced: the oven is heated by a heating element situated behind the fan, at the back of the oven. Fan forced cooking provides immediate high heat to give even heat distribution and faster cooking. However since this setting is quite fierce it's necessary to reduce normal cooking temperatures by 10-20 degrees C.
- Full Grill: the oven will have a grilling element at the top of the oven to provide radiant heat to the food. Half Grill: the grilling element will be in two halves, only one of which will be used.
- Fan Assisted Grill: as the name suggests, the fan at the back of the oven will operate with the grill. Using the fan with the grill reduces the surface temperature of the food whilst still producing browning and enables food to be cooked for longer without burning.
- Rotisserie: the oven is equipped with a turnspit on which a joint of meat or bird will turn slowly whilst cooking. Although not such a common oven feature, many people do appreciate the taste produced by this self-basting process.
- Defrost: the fan is operated on its own to circulate air at room temperature.
- Light: the oven may have one or two lights so that food can be viewed whilst cooking.
Most gas ovens on the other hand, only have a bake function that consists of a burner at the bottom of the oven. This produces a higher temperature at the top of the oven from the rising heat. A gas oven will also have a grill; usually a gas one although there are gas oven models that have an electric grill. A major advantage of gas ovens is that the gas combustion process produces a lot of water vapour, which in turn provides for a moist cooking environment from which more succulent meat and softer, moister bread will emerge. Some gas ovens do provide a fan assisted function that healps to distribute the heat of the oven more evenly.
For those for whom one oven simply isn't enough, there are double ovens. In most cases the second oven, usually situated at the top, is substationally smaller than the main one. Better is to have two seperate ovens that will provide much greater capacity and flexibility. These can either be installed side-by side or one on top of the other.
Most ovens will also have a timer of some sort. Either a minute-minder (a 2-hour clockwork timer) or an electronic timer incorporating a clock, timer and timed cooking setting. Some timers provide both switch on and switch off programmes, others have only the switch off setting for turning the oven off after a set cooking time. When cooking food on the timer do remember that ovens are well insulated and retain heat for a period of time. So if you're not going to remove the food immediately, do allow for this with a reduced cooking time to avoid over-cooking.
Top range ovens use a high temperature pyrolytic cleaning system which cleans every part of the oven's interior. During the cleaning cycle the oven temperature rises to 500ºC and any soiling in the oven is carbonized and falls to the floor of the oven as ash. A catalytic converter in the oven roof neutralises the smoke created. The process takes two to three hours and needs to be carried out every few weeks.