The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Combination steam oven - thoughts of whether or not they are worth it?

rebeccameachin's picture
rebeccameachin

Combination steam oven - thoughts of whether or not they are worth it?

Hi All,

I am currently looking at getting a new oven, and thinking of buying a combination steam oven. There isn't a huge amount of information out there on them, so wondered if anyone has one, or has used one and what your thoughts are?

Thanks very much for your help! :)

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

I have had two, one of the cheap countertop ones, and now a full sized 240 volt combi.  Far and away the main benefit of the combi is reheating.  Most combi's have a reheat function which is heat plus a little moisture.  It lets you reheat nearly anything without drying it out.  I have reheated pancakes,  potatoes, lasagna, pasta, you name it, and it does not dry out.  You can't use reheat  something with  a liquid sauce, like fettucini alfredo, because the steam with get into the sauce and dilute it , that isn't a problem with lasagna, since you can use the perforated tray, and most of the steam just drips through.  Second best, though I don't use that option very much, is combi mode - full steam and full heat.  it lets you cook a turkey or a chicken much more quickly because the moisture helps transmit the heat into the food more efficiently. I also use the steam mode pretty regularly, mostly to steam shrimp.  Yes, you can do that in basket over a pan on your range, but it is easier to see what you are doing in the combi.  Finally, I get the most use out of it as a regular oven. On mine, it does not have a nonconvection mode so it is not exactly a regular oven,  but since it is so small inside, it gets up to temp in as little as 5 minutes, while my full sized oven takes closer to 25 minutes, if not more to preheat, so most nights I use the combi.  Mine does not have a broiler, if you get one with that, I doubt you would use your regular oven very much, unless you were making a lot of food.

  As for bread, my results have been mixed.  I have never gotten the crackly crust that some people rave about .  I think that the amount of steam used in  combi mode is less steam than when bakers inject massive amounts of steam in the first few minutes of a bake.  On the other hand, some people have had success using the steam mode to get plenty of steam in the oven, then switch to combi mode to bring the temp up - that has never worked for me because I always use a pizza stone, and to use that approach, I would have to bring the stone up to temp as well.  I have used combi mode to bake sourdough and that gets a pretty good oven spring, since in theory the outside crust stays moist and does not get rigid too early.  There usually is a mode that basically seals the oven, so any moisture stays in the cavity and does not get vented to the outside - I use that for banana bread and get a moist loaf, though I can't say for sure you need a combi for it.   There are some posts on combis on the gardenweb appliance forum.  Most owners seem pretty happy with them, though there is a general consensus that there is a shortage of cookbooks or recipes designed for combis, so most owners are stuck with manufacturer's recipe booklets, and would love to see more info on the best way to use them.

rebeccameachin's picture
rebeccameachin

Thanks for the updates. I feel I really need to find someone who has a steam combi so I can have a go! ;)

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Some of the high end manufacturers -  Wolf, Miele to name two, have classes or demos to combi ovens at their local distributors.  If you are interested in either brand, find a local dealer and ask if they are offering a demo.  Williams and Sonoma is carrying a small countertop version. If you have a W & S near you, you might want to call and see if they have any classes or demos on combi's.  While it won't work like a regular oven since it is only 120 volts, not 240, they will likely show you how it works with combi mode, which should work about the same.