"Important principles may, and must, be inflexible. "
- Abraham Lincoln
It is said that it only takes a small oven to produce a half-baked idea. Sure, but when it comes to making delicious bakes, you certainly need more than just a small oven and ideas. You need to decide which type of oven to buy and this would depend on your specific requirements, of course.
An oven is one of the most important requirements in baking, but buying one involves a lot of research. And when it comes to buying an oven we often get confused with the suggestions pouring in from our family, friends and sales representatives.
First, we need to understand what are the types of ovens and the things they do. So let us have a look at the different types of ovens that are available in the market :-
Reliability is what I can vouch for when it comes to the electric oven and that too it’s available not at an exorbitant price. The electric oven is less expensive, light in weight as compared to a gas oven and is also easier to use. It does take a little longer to heat and may give problems when it comes to ‘even’ baking . They tend to leave hot spots due to which lighter products like macaroons suffer either with over or under baking.
It has a very dry environment and tends to dry the product if baked for a little extra time. If you wish to add a little moisture to your bakes then don’t forget to push in a tray of water and then place your bakes in it . This will help to retain the moisture.
A gas oven gives a lot of control when it comes to baking. It has a low operational cost and gives very good results. It is mostly used in restaurants and bakeries where the oven is expected to run full time. A gas oven can have either a stone base or a metal base. A gas oven with a stone base works great as it might take a little long when it comes to pre-heating but is beneficial for products that need double baking, like rusk. The stone captures the heat and keeps it warm for a longer time.
As these ovens support moist baking, they are less likely to dry out the bake. They have low maintenance hence replacements of parts is a rare case. There is only one flaw in a gas oven, that is, you have to check the smell of the gas that is let out during opening or turning off the valves or delayed ignition due to blockage.
Steam ovens are currently not that popular but are a great option for home bakers. These ovens operate by injecting water into a boiler that passes through a water line to the boiler or be stored in a separate canister.
The boiler creates steam which is used to heat up the oven. This helps in increasing the moisture level and good quality baking by reducing the consumption of oil. Steam ovens allow less time for baking but at the same time they are really expensive for your pocket.
These types of ovens have a stationary source that helps radiate heat in the oven. These sources are usually at the bottom of the oven due to which they tend to create hot air pockets, leaving hot spots or uneven baking.
Pizza ovens are specially designed in a way to give that extra crisp to your pizza base. They are different than the regular ovens as they have the capacity to reach higher temperatures. Pizza ovens are larger in size and may not fit in your kitchen exactly the way you want.
The next generation of ovens that were introduced over conventional ovens were convection ovens which had an advantage of a fan that helps to distribute the hot air evenly throughout the oven. This would reduce the chances of having hot spots. They take a little longer to heat but wear and tear is less.
There are a few problems that convection ovens have, the main one is that the fan requires a motor to work and if the motor fails, then the baked items won’t be properly baked. In these types of ovens, you need a little practice as the cooking time is often shorter and temperatures are different than what you are used to with a conventional oven.
These being the basic types of ovens, there are a few more ovens which are selling hot in the market like wall-mounted, heating drawers, slide in, drop in, free standing, storage ovens, etc.
I hope this information helps you choose your oven more smartly, and in case you are still doubtful make sure you buzz me, I never mind going shopping if it’s about baking!