What's the right cooker for you?

A good oven should last for years and be something you can rely on to produce great dishes every time! Whatever your budget and lifestyle, there's a huge choice available. It's also a big purchasing decision, so you'll want to make sure you get it right. Here's what you need to know when buying an oven.

Electric cookers

  • Cooking is quicker.

  • Colour is even, but usually paler and less glossy.

  • Pre-heating is usually unnecessary.

  • Good for batch baking (cooking on more than one shelf) because of the even heat distribution.

  • Cooking times/temperatures are always less than traditional ovens.

  • The food surface may be drier and less crisp.

 

Gas cookers

  • You'll find the top shelf is slightly hotter, lower shelf slightly cooler and the base cooler still.

  • Gas is a much moister form of heat than electric, particularly noticeable when baking.

  • The end result is food with a glossy appearance on the outside and a moist texture inside. 

Now you've decided if you want gas or electric what style of cooker best suits you?

 

Freestanding cookers

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Freestanding cookers offer great value for money and there's a wide range of styles available to suit most kitchen designs.

If you have an existing gap in your kitchen they're easy to slot in and, of course, you can easily take them with you if you move home.

Freestanding cookers come in three standard widths: 60cm, 55cm and 50cm. Most are about 80cm tall and 60-65cm deep, so they should sit flush with your work counters.

 

Built-in cooker

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A built-in cooker seamlessly blends into your kitchen for a modern and stylish look

If you want the flexibility of a range cooker but don’t have the space for one, or worry it’ll be out of step with your sleek new kitchen units, a built-in oven is the way to go.

Built-in ovens, as the name suggests, are installed into kitchen units or fixed to cupboard doors. A built-in oven is usually 60cm wide, which is the same as standard kitchen units.

You have the option to place it at eye level so it's easy to see how your dishes are cooking and the flexibility to put the hob where you like – according to where it works best for you.

 

RANGE OVENS

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These have either two side-by-side ovens or one extra-wide oven with an internal grill, plus a storage or warming compartment and a substantial hob.

You will not, however, get more cooking space than with a conventional oven - external dimensions are larger but the oven may be of normal size or even smaller.

Most have useful extras such as a wok burner, an extra burner for fish kettles, a griddle or barbecue plates and warming zones.

 

Heat storage ovens

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Heat storage or Aga-type cookers use stored heat. They take approximately six hours to heat up so once on you leave them on.

Heat inside the oven stays relatively constant, but there is a large variation in temperature between gradients, so you'll need to move dishes up and down to control how wuickly they cook.

Aga-type cookers look beautiful and help to create a warm heart to the home, but they can be expensive to run and require practice to use effectively.

They can use various types of fuel, including electricity, gas, oil, wood and solid fuel. Most, except all electric, require a flue and are very heavy to install.

 

Things to consider

•If you batch bake and cook traditional foods, opt for a multi-function oven.

• If you only cook traditional foods choose a static type; otherwise a electric fan oven is better for batch baking, quick cooking (reheating ready meals) and defrosting.

• Alternatively, look for a separate grill and main oven for versatility and convenience.

• Check for cool-touch oven doors, especially useful if you have young children. Even on a high temperature the oven door will remain warm only.

• Eye-level grills are the most convenient to use but don't look as streamlined. Otherwise, check that a grill below the hob is comfortable for you to use.

• To save money and energy choose a half-grill facility for small batches of grilling.

• Check the oven is at a comfortable height for loading.

• Choose side-opening or drop-down doors to suit your needs.

• Clearly marked and easy-to-use controls. Some are illuminated for easier use.

• On gas appliances look for safety and flame-failure devices.

• BSI approval or equivalent Continental standards.

• Storage drawer and plate-warming racks. Grill can double for plate warming.

• Reversible door hanging to fit in with your kitchen layout.

• Minute minders may be useful.

• An oven light and clear door-viewing panel.

• Automatic timers that will switch the oven on when you are out.

• Childproof controls.

Now that you have a clearer idea of what cooker will work best in your kitchen, let XI Projects design and create your perfect kitchen for you!!