The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Best Oven - Sharp Healsio

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whatever868686's picture
whatever868686

Best Oven - Sharp Healsio

Hi guys, I have been looking at convectional ovens for my home. Does anyone have any recommendation? I am currently eyeing the Sharp Healsio which uses superheated steam. http://sharp-world.com/products/shs_oven/contents/what_shs.html I am thinking of getting a good oven because I hate the way my baguettes look now because I don't have a steam oven.

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

I'll quietly suggest caution. 

First, I've baked with convection ovens for a few years and do not recommend them for bread.  I feel i get better bread out of a conventional oven.  Convection ovens seem to dry out the crusts too quickly.  I like them for cakes, pies, pastries, roasts of mammal and fowl.  But not for breads.

 

Next, be very careful in looking at steam ovens.  My reading suggests that some of them heat the baking chamber with superheated steam.  What a baker wants is a controlled amount of steam at the beginning of the bake.  This will keep the crust from drying out so you can get full oven spring and opening of the slashes.  Then you need to let the bread dry out and the crust form.  In most cases, there is a few seconds of steam in the oven.  In some cases, as much as 5 minutes.  But you don't want to keep the oven full of steam for the whole bake.

 

So, look carefully before you buy.  Explain to the salesdriod you are mostly interested in the oven's bread baking capability.  Ask if you can either take some dough into the showroom to bake, or can get a 14 or 30 day return privelege in case the oven sucks rocks.

 

Looking at their web site, it seems like the steam is an always on feature, which I think would not work well with bread. 

Mike

 

whatever868686's picture
whatever868686

Thanks Mike. You gave really great advice. I am just wondering whether you have any particular brands or models you can recommend because I am very new to all this.

rideold's picture
rideold

I have a Kenmore convection/conduction electric oven and have used the convection two or three times.  I'll never pay the extra $ for it again.  I'm decidedly underwhelmed by it.  True, it is not real convection.  Most of them on the market have a standard conduction element in the oven chamber and a fan to blow the heat around rather than a true convection system.  Maybe this makes a difference, maybe not.  I would urge you to learn to use the tools you have as the way you treat the dough and ingredients makes a far bigger difference in the quality of the bread than the oven.  I used to use a decrepit 30 year old electric oven when I was in college and it used ot make the best corn muffins I've ever made.  Who knows what the difference was but the point is learning how your oven bakes is in many ways more important.  Even with a new oven you will have to learn how it bakes before you produce your best breads.  The other thing I would consider is the useful baking space.  Is the oven you are looking at functional for baking the size and number of loaves you want?  I'd also echo what is written above about the steam baking environment.  You want steam early on but dry heat later.  I don't know if the oven you are looking at provides that.

Good luck.