The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Please help with new convection oven make and model

Boldbeautifulbreadbaby's picture

Please help with new convection oven make and model

I am very fortunate to be shopping for a new convection oven. I have never baked with a convection oven and I am very excited! I know there are many on the market and I need one which is the best at bread baking.  I want to make 2 to 3 loaves a week. It will replace a 30 inch electric oven. I am in the US. 

I have seen some ovens now come with a steam option. Are they worth the money? They certainly charge top dollar.  Please fellow bakers help me out. I need to know about cost, consistency of bakes, the good, the bad, all of it!  I am hoping to stay in the mid-range price between 2-4500.00.

Thanks in advance.

If this topic has already been discussed I apologize. I looked throughout the forum and I didn't see a current post regarding the newer ovens.

gerryp123's picture

I often use an electric convection oven.  Best bread baking experience is when using this in conjunction with a cast iron Dutch Oven.  Convection ensures uniform heating and the thermal mass of the DO seems to even things out.  Generally consistent results.

When I use my convection oven to bake directly on a slab things seemed a bit uneven.  Perhaps the slab blocks the air flow, or the convection fan dissipates the steam too quickly.  (Ovens with injected steam need a way to block all vents).  So when I bake on a slab I turn off the convection feature and bake with a "standard" oven.

barryvabeach's picture

Not sure what you are talking about when you mention steam function.  If you mean an oven that does convection, steam ,  and some combination of steam and convection, they are called combi ovens, and if you do a search here, you will find a number of posts.  If you are looking at a combi, they can be pretty expensive, and fairly small interiors, though most that have the 240 volt combi ovens use them vastly more than a full sized oven, even on regular ( non steam ) modes since they heat up so quickly.

Boldbeautifulbreadbaby's picture

Thank you barryvabeach. I was able to read a lot of good threads on combi ovens. I will not be getting a convection oven with the steam function. I will continue using my dutch oven and just take time to learn my new oven. Which ever one I choose!

Boldbeautifulbreadbaby's picture

I have a dutch oven and I will try it in my new convection oven! Thank you!

Doc.Dough's picture

Some models have a single fan and others have two.  Some have a single fan that reverses direction periodically.  The theory is that these enhancements provide adequate variation in the flow field to eliminate stagnation zones.  While that may be mostly true, that does not mean that any of them provide truly uniform temperature everywhere in the oven.

Electric ovens can be equipped with PID controllers (P= proportional , I = integral , D= differential ) which can hold the air temperature within a few degrees of the set point.  I don't know of any gas ovens that do that as it requires a variable flow burner which is a favorite among rocket engine designers but not so much among home oven builders who tend to use whatever they can get rather than designing from scratch.  That said, I doubt you will find very many sales people who even know what a PID controller is and even fewer who can explain (correctly) how they work.

While a high price does not necessarily mean a more accurate oven, it should be an indication that more effort is put into selling it.  And that is something you can take advantage of by asking questions like (what is the maximum power that the oven can draw and how fast does it heat up, followed by "will you guarantee that?" and "will you put it in writing?") The answer is easy and totally dependent on the maximum power that the heating elements can draw simultaneously - and that is on the name plate. If they can't answer, go someplace else.  If they won't guarantee it, you have something to negotiate with if you choose to play hardball.  They will never put it in writing, but the question is useful to set the tone.

Then ask if the oven has a PID temperature controller, and if not, do they have any models that do?  The sales person won't know, so ask that he/she contact the manufacturer and find out.  This gives you time to consider whatever else you find out and visit some more outlets.

If self cleaning, ask how many self cleaning cycles they guarantee it for (self cleaning takes it up to about 700°F which is quite stressful on the electronics). The answer is not a number but generally a time (30 days, 90 days, 1 yr, 5 yr, 10 yr).  More is better.  You should be very familiar with some low cost oven, to the extent that you can engage in dialog about the specific differences between whatever model you are looking at and your low cost reference.  The question should always be "why does your oven cost so much more than X when you only do x% more (or less) on any particular feature".  Let them know you are price sensitive but not necessarily trying to bargain with them.  Just comparison shopping.  When you are ready to buy, they are then prepared to make you an offer (or not).  You can always walk.  They HATE that.  Be prepared to say "call me if you change your mind".

I have a Wolf electric double convection oven and a Henny Penny combi.  The Wolf was expensive and pretty.  The combi was more expensive but gets used for 90% of all of my baking.  The Wolf heats plates nicely and holds food at serving temperature.  It is also self cleaning though in 15 yrs I have only used that feature once - after "the pie incident". The very cool (self-hiding) control panel no longer works on the Wolf.  It still heats plates just fine, and it is still pretty.

Low cost is not an indication of either low quality or low performance.  It may be an indication of high production rate. Whirlpool makes quite a few models both electric and gas that are quite capable, though none of them that I know of have PID controllers.  GE is another supplier with a reasonable selection.  The base models are high value and sparse on features.  As you add features, the reliability goes down and the price goes up.  So know what your minimum feature set is and find the price point where you begin to find all the things you care about.  For baking bread in a Dutch oven, you probably want a solid 550°F upper temperature and you want some kind of guarantee that they will deliver it.  And be prepared to send it back if it doesn't actually do it.  You may have to send it back twice before they understand what you mean.  Have your own instrumentation with some kind of calibration certificate for the thermocouple thermometer that you will use to monitor temperature.  Do the first max temperature test before the installer leaves.  Turn it on, set it to max on the thermostat and watch the thermocouple to monitor box temperature. Expect it to take 45 min to heat up to the max temperature.  A 550°F setting on the thermostat knob does not in any way suggest that it actually gets that hot. Ask about how to adjust the thermostat if it proves to be incorrect.  Most ovens have a way to adjust ±25 to 50°F just by offsetting the dial.  There is no reason why a self cleaning oven won't go to 550°F and stay there on a normal cycle - but some of them won't.  Have a plan B.  You don't have to be hostile, just insistent that you expect the product to perform up to the spec.

And enjoy your new oven!  Happy baking.

Boldbeautifulbreadbaby's picture

Thank you so much Doc.dough for all this wonderful information. I really appreciate it! I am so grateful when anyone takes time out to educate me. Also I must know...what was the "pie incident????"