The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Countertop Ovens?

  • Pin It
Djehuty's picture
Djehuty

Countertop Ovens?

I am in a state of mingled joy and woe today.  I have recently been accepted into a PhD program (joy), and have been granted one of the rare studio apartments for grad students (money-saving joy).  But!  The apartment has NO OVEN.  WOE IS ME!

I know that countertop ovens exist, but can they be used for baking bread?  If so, how well do they work?  Can you put a baking stone in one, somehow?  Can my woe be lessened?  Or must I resign myself to years without good bread?

 

yy's picture
yy

First of all, huge congrats for being accepted into a Ph.D. program!

I have a small cuisinart countertop oven, and I really only use it to bake small 8x8 trays of rolls or muffins. It doesn't work so well at higher temperatures, especially because the heating elements are too close to the food, which makes for uneven browning (sometimes, charring). Even with the convection setting on, food tends to brown unevenly due to the proximity to the elements.

Theoretically, you could invest in a larger countertop oven that would fit a lidded dutch oven inside. The dutch oven would act as a baking stone while helping to redistribute the heat so that the hot spots don't affect your food so much. I haven't tried this myself, because my countertop oven isn't big enough, but I'm sure there are models out there that are tall and wide enough to accommodate a 4-5 quart capacity pot.

Melesine's picture
Melesine

I bake in my full sized Breville Smart Oven all the time. Breads, pies, dinner rolls, muffins. It does have a pizza stone. It fits a 13x9 pan, it has convection.  

pmiker's picture
pmiker

I just looked at it.  Makes me want to get rid of the microwave.  (but my wife would kill me.)

Borgstrom's picture
Borgstrom

I bake bread in a Cuisinart CSO-300 Combo Steam/Convection oven; works well on bread and many other things. I find myself using the full-size oven and microwave less and less.  

Borgstrom's picture
Borgstrom

Here are some photos from the bread I baked this morning in the steam oven.  This is actually only my 2nd batch of bread I've made (ever), but I'm happy so far.

I'm attempting to use the Tartine method.  Bread had 1/3 each AP flour, home-ground hard red wheat flour, home-ground hard white wheat flour. This was proofed overnight in the refrigerator and then put directly from the refrigerator into the oven at 450F using "bread" mode for 20 minutes (first part of bake with heavy steam), followed by 20 minutes at 400F using just convection.  

 

Djehuty's picture
Djehuty

Amazing! :)  That looks beautiful and tasty.  I'll definitely be considering this oven, thanks.

 

Djehuty's picture
Djehuty

Thank you for the recommendation!

Assuming it's this oven, that looks surprisingly good, and certainly more impressive than I expected.  But is it large enough?  I don't mean in terms of width; I would assume that I'd have to make shorter loaves in a countertop oven.  But it looks a bit short, especially if I were to put a baking stone on that rack.  Is that a potential problem, or is this down to difficulty judging the dimensions due to the camera angles?

Also, would you happen to know whether this requires special treatment in terms of where you place it?  The apartment has one of those raised cabinets for the microwave, and the only counter space is right under it.  I wouldn't mind swapping this for the microwave, unless of course that would be a fire hazard.

Melesine's picture
Melesine

I'd say call Breville or double check their manual on their website for set backs. The top of the oven gets hot and can be used to warm plates, but they sell a footed cutting board that sits on top so it doesn't radiate a ton of heat. I use the cutting on the top of mine and it's a great place to set whatever you've just removed from the oven. I've never had it in a confined space, it's always been on an open stainless table and I don't set to back against the wall just to be safe. 

I have the baking stone but I don't bother using it because to me it defeats to primary benefit of this oven, which is that it preheats very quickly. I tried using the stone once and to me it's a waste of time and energy for this oven. But I have a ceramic oven with a stone outside and use that when I want to bake on a stone. I have baked loaves in it, but it would be a problem if it's a dough that raises a lot. If I know I'm baking a very high rising bread in a loaf pan I use my full sized oven or bake it outside.  

johnr55's picture
johnr55

I use the Breville Smart Oven, baking breads in it constantly.  It is by far the most accurate countertop oven for home use that I've found in 40 years of baking.  Here in the South we often try to avoid using our full sized ovens in the summer; I do also.  The Breville will easily accommodate a 9" x 13" baking pan, which is my yardstick.  However, full sized loaf and tube pans can cause recipes to rise high enough to hit the ceramic heating elements in the top.  So, I simply split my loaf recipes and bake breads in there with Wilton mini-loaf pans.  Alternatively, I will use pizza stone(s) for freeform breads.  Breville actually makes a 13" round pizza stone expressly for the Smart Oven.  I've been using this for 5 years now without a problem.  It's $250, but worth every penny.  Makes all other 'toaster ovens' look like toys.

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Another option is the Solo S2000 http://www.amazon.com/S2000-Stainless-Professional-Convection-Rotisserie/dp/B00CCSUTOU/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top   which is much bigger than most countertop ovens, and can reach 500 on bake.

 

this is my review from Amazon.

For the price, it is pretty big, and has some good features. I have only had it for a day, but wanted to clear up some issues from some prior reviews, because they have changed it a bit. First, it comes with a rotisserie attachment - a spit, and some hooks to get it out, and a solid black tray that you can sit under the spit, and a rotis setting on the dial. Second, when in convection, the fan stays on whether it is heating or not ( an earlier review said the fan was only on when heating ) Third, I did a few tests with a thermocouple probe sitting in the middle of the oven, when I set it to bake, at 500, the temps varied from 526F to 486 F which is a fairly respectable spread of 40 degrees ( I had the solid baking tray at the bottom, and the wire rack in the middle. When I set it to convection bake at 500, it varied from 436 F to 496 F which is 60 degrees, and a pretty large spread, especially since it did not even hit the 500 on the dial. When I set it to bake 400, it varied from a high of 446 to a low of 385 - again a 60 degree spread, but at least it was above and below the target temp. I was pretty disappointed with the door. The title says insulated door, which I understood meant that there would be two panes of glass with air between them, like on a full size oven. No such luck - the door frame is metal and about an inch thick, so the frame itself may have insulation, but there is just a single glass pane - when the oven was cooling down after it reached 400, the glass door measured 240. When the oven was at 500, the top measured 200 degrees ( using a thermapen probe) near the front, and slightly lower near the back. Turning back to the plus side, when I plugged it in and turned it on, it reached 400 degrees in six minutes which is pretty fast.  I bought it to use in a garage to avoid heating up the kitchen with my gas oven, and hope to try it out this weekend.

mixinator's picture
mixinator

I just got one of these:

http://www.oster.com/summer-chefs-sale-2014/TSSTTV0000.html

It's excellent for bread baking for a reason which isn't readily apparent. It has a "warm" mode which uses only the bottom heating elements, just like a full-size electric oven. The top heating elements remain off. With the top elements on, the tops of your baked goods WILL burn. Trust me; I've been around the block on this. You will also need a baking stone to keep the bottom elements from burning the bottoms (I find this is also the case with full-size electric ovens). They do make small baking stones for toaster ovens. Some corn meal or rice flour on the baking stone will address the problem of sticking, or you could use a silicone cake pan.

mixinator's picture
mixinator

On the Breville smart oven, is it possible to not have the upper elements not come on?