The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New Oven Recommendations

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Dough-No's picture
Dough-No

New Oven Recommendations

hey guys!

We will be moving into a new house very soon and will be purchasing a new oven. I want to make sure I get an oven that will work well for bread and that I can steam safely in. I am in Toronto Canada, any recommendations would be appreciated.

-D

Chuck's picture
Chuck

Although I don't have any specific model to suggest, I do have some more general suggestions:



  1. Easy switch between "convection" and "non-convection" modes. (In other words you can turn the "convection" off from the front panel without opening the oven in the middle of a bake.)

  2. Generates ts own steam when you ask for it. Generating steam yourself will always be a kludge and always entail some risk no matter what. (Home ovens that can generate their own steam are pretty new  ...but they do exist.)

  3. Low power consumption. (This used to mean simply lots and lots of insulation, for which a good proxy was simply "self cleaning".)

  4. Both wide enough and high enough to fit all the different kinds of loaves you can imagine ever baking (and the biggest Turkey you can imagine for Thanksgiving too), but not a whole lot larger. (Include the extra height of your baking stone too. Also include enough extra height to clear the top heating element. And remember the space below the lowest rack position probably isn't really usable and shouldn't be counted.)


As to steam generation, some things to watch for:



  • Does it require being "plumbed in" (like one of those refrigerators that dispenses ice cubes), or does it have a reservoir you need to refill?

  • Is the reservoir conveniently reachable?

  • Do the directions specify you can only put distilled water (which you will probably have to buy in jugs) in the reservoir, or will plain old tap water work?

  • What needs to be cleaned and how often? Will it be easy to do so?


My impression reading other experiences here on TFL is that lots of other places are well ahead of North America in oven technology. So if you can't find what you want easily, also take a look at "European style" ovens or visit a "European importer".

bostonphotobill's picture
bostonphotobill

I have a KitchenAid KEBU107SSS  30 inch wall oven. It has built in steam assist. Add a hearth stone and you are ready for great bread. We have had it for about 3 years and no problems.



Dough-No's picture
Dough-No

ok, so it looks like the ovens that have steam are just not going to be an option because of price.

Is there a rule of thumb I can use to know if I can safely steam in an oven? I want gas elements, but have heard that gas ovens are not as good for bread (it is what we have now and it seems ok).

Thoughts?

-D

Chuck's picture
Chuck

Is there a rule of thumb I can use to know if I can safely steam in an oven?


Unfortunately I've never heard of such a rule of thumb. The possible problem is that the water vapor gets up inside where it's not expected and shorts out the electronic controls. (In other words "gas" vs. "electric" doesn't really matter - it's "electronic controls" that do matter.) If you can find these days an oven that has all the features you want yet has "mechanical controls", that would eliminate this particular risk.


This only happens a tiny fraction of the time (but repeatedly; also it's a "big deal" when your oven dies very suddenly leaving you stuck with risen dough). While the one person that has a problem sometimes reports needing to call the repairman several times, hundreds of other people have no problem at all.


Maybe somebody else knows of a rule of thumb that I haven't heard of  ...or maybe proposing specific models then counting how many people use that particular one would be informative.


(The steaming feature is also available on some el-cheapo no-name models [including countertop models] manufactured in China and typically sold through irregular channels like the TV.)