The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Ovens

FMM's picture
FMM

Ovens

At some stage in the (hopefully) not too distant future I intend to undergo a kitchen renovation.  Thus I get to buy a new oven.  I am having a really hard time getting information about what type of oven is suitable for a home baker.  Does anyone have any information about researching this area?

Fiona

sphealey's picture
sphealey

What is your budget, and your feeling about buying/playing with toys for yourself?

Generally home ovens (assuming a range here since that is the most common) fall into three price brackets: $250, $600-$1200, and $4000-$8000 [1].

Any oven will work for home breadbaking, including the $250 ones, if you are willing to mess around a bit with a baking stone and a cast iron pan to make water vapor.

Over the last several years at the Kitchen & Bath Show (the industry's big get-together) I looked at several dozens of "artisan" stoves in the $1200 and $4000+ brackets. They definately have smoother doors and the Vikings in particular use real industrial-quality valves for gas control. The KitchenAid alone that I saw has steam injection.

Are these more expensive units worth it? A family member loves his, and uses it 2-3 times/week for intense cooking. But he admits it was a luxury purchase and not logically justifiable. YMMV.

sPh

[1] Leaving the $10,000+ bracket out since if you are spending that money you don't need our advice.

leila107's picture
leila107

Fiona,

I have a 2-yr KitchenAid gas range. Although I love my KA appliances, I wish I opted for a Viking range at the time of purchase. In the first year (while under full warranty) I had the oven serviced 4 times. While the famous KA service is truly spectacular, I don't think a new oven should need so much TLC in the first year. The tech ended up replacing the entire electronic component of the oven (the temp/time control): the oven randomly shuts off while in use. The problem persists, and I gave up (I just keep an eye on it while preheating/baking). 

I do bake breads at least once a week, and tend to keep the temp in the 500 degree range (with lots of steam), which may be the problem. However, last time I baked muffins (at 350) it turned off again.

Bottom line: if you are an avid baker, it may be worth to spend the extra $$. 

 

sphealey's picture
sphealey

One thing I would recommend is to order an extra set of shelves for your oven at the time you buy it. Breadbaking, esp with a stone, is hard on shelves, but when you realize you need a new set the parts might not be available any more. If you order a 2nd set with the oven you can put them in the basement or garage for future use.

sPh

LindyD's picture
LindyD

What fun to get a kitchen remodel, although it may not be so much fun until it's finished.

Am not sure if you're speaking of wall ovens, single ovens, double ovens, or a freestanding range. Any brand name, well insulated oven should serve you well. Check out the location of the gasket. My oven's gasket is not on the door; it is placed so that the door closes against it. Keeps the gasket free from debris and makes cleaning the door easier.

Use the Internet (Google is a pretty good search engine) and take a look at what's available. You'll find lots of choices. Then you should search out information on the reliability of the various brands. When I was shopping for a new range, I discovered that a few of the high-end (expensive) brands had a much higher repair rate.

For a cooktop or range, sealed burners are awesome. Look into the Whirlpool Accubake technology, which keeps an even temperature in all locations of the oven so you can bake on multiple racks with consistent results. I wound up with a Whirlpool and can confirm that claim. A glass see-through door is very nice to have, but if you plan to toss a cup of water into a pan to produce steam, make sure you cover the glass with a towel to protect it from cracking should some water dribble on it.

I've found that electronic controls give me more precision than turning a knob. And pilotless ignition saves energy.

Good luck and let us know what you ultimately choose.

 

endinmaine's picture
endinmaine

Read the reviews before you buy a Vikings or Wolf. After looking at what consumer reports had to say we bought a whirlpool gas oven and have been very happy.

holds99's picture
holds99

I had an double (over and under, stacked) Kitchen Aid convection/standard ovens in my last house.  My wife and I did a complete remodeling of the kitchen.  We ripped out everything and redesigned the entire kitchen, which was fairly large.  We did a lot of research at the time (year 2000) and we chose Kitchen Aid ovens and a Wolf countertop  6 burner gas range.  I loved the K.A. but had some issues with the Wolf factory re: damaged parts and ended up having to beat up on the Wolf Regional Manager to get the issues resolved.  The Wolf was a great stove but the support and factory seem to be a bit disfuntional, or at least they were back then.  Anyway, the oven and range were the most important items on my list and since I do all the cooking and baking my wife agreed we would go with the K.A. and Wolf.  The Kitchen Aid double oven was a great set of ovens.  I bought it at Sears' Scratch and Dent store.  It had a small ding in the side, which wasn't visible once it was inside the kitchen cabinet that held it.  The model I had required 220 v.  The Kitchen Aid is normally fairly pricey but I paid half price at Sears scratch and dent.  If you can afford the K.A. and assuming their still building a high quality unit it is well worth the money, especially if you are going to do a lot of baking.  Be sure to check Consumers Report or some other rating company and see how they rate the various ovens these days.  My purchase was 7 years ago.  I don't know where you are located but you might check into a scratch and dent store.  The K.A. from the scratch and dent came with the same warranty as a new one.  Before I had a Wolf I had a Viking and that thing was a piece of junk.  Unless they've been bought out and relocated they're made in Mississipi and it was a real horror story getting parts and service.  They used to have a safty feature in the ovens that would completely shut the oven down if there wasn't a certain amount of current present in the sensor.  Well, one night I had a house full of people and the oven was full of food and the Viking shut down because of this freature not getting sufficient current.  It was a Dominos' pizza moment.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL