28th Sep 2007

Types of Oven

Dutch Ovens

The original Dutch ovens were three-legged cooking pots, typically made of either heavy cast iron or aluminium made to be used over an open fire or hearth. There are two basic types of Dutch ovens. The first is the outdoor variety made of cast iron, which has three short legs and a tight fitting lid. The second type is similar but has a flat base and can be used stove top or in your kitchen oven. Dutch ovens are extremely versatile and can be used for anything from roasting and stewing to frying, steaming and baking.

Solar Ovens

Solar ovens are used all over the world in situations ranging from necessity (in countries where traditional fuel sources, such as wood, have become scarce) to more pleasurable pursuits such as their use by people on camping holidays. Solar ovens use energy from the sun to heat and cook foods and they work on a similar principal to a greenhouse. Solar energy is reflected into the cavity of the oven and a glass door or lid keeps the heat in allowing the temperature to rise quite rapidly. Well constructed ovens allow you to cook anything you can in a conventional oven. The temperatures reached in solar ovens are virtually the same as in conventional appliances so the cooking times are similar as well.

There are downsides, however. Solar ovens can be pretty ‘high maintenance’ in that they need to be turned every 30 minutes or so to gain maximum exposure to the sun’s rays and in order to keep the temperature in the oven constant. Also, if the cloud cover increases, the cooking times can become quite variable.

Brick Ovens

Domestic brick ovens can be used to cook bread, pizzas and stews as well as both savoury and sweet tarts and pies. Pizza or bread dough can be laid directly on to the hot bricks contained in the oven and brick ovens are also excellent for slower cooked food like casseroles, too.

As with other types of ovens that are heated by fire (such as pizza and Dutch ovens) the oven needs to heated and then allowed to cool so that the temperature in the cavity is even. The advantage to this type of cooking is that it gives a very distinctive outdoor taste and crisp texture to foods like pizza. The downside is that cooking with any kind of wood fired oven is the exact opposite of microwave cooking and you’ll need to have plenty of patience – you can’t exactly rustle up a meal in a matter of minutes!

Range Ovens

Range cookers have become increasingly popular in the last few years and are packed with features which can be useful if you have a large family or do a lot of entertaining. Range cookers usually include two full sized ovens and a separate grill. A good choice is a range with a conventional oven and a second convection or fan-assisted oven. This will give you excellent flexibility as you have the benefit of roasting, baking and grilling different foods, which require different temperatures, at the same time.

Multifunction Ovens

This function lets you choose between different methods of cooking. Many ovens offer a wide range of choices such as conventional cooking, which provides different temperatures in certain sections of the oven – hotter at the top and cooler at the bottom - for baking. Alternatively, you could choose fan assisted cooking or grilling either separately or in combination.

Domestic Ovens

There are 3 types of ovens available which give various levels of cooking flexibility and each type of oven is available in both gas and electric models. The most basic type is the single oven with a combined grill. The oven and grill are intended to be used separately and these ovens have a door switch which changes the heating configuration accordingly. So, for example, when grilling, the oven door is left slightly open and this activates the top heating element and when the door is closed the oven operates using all the available elements to provide even heating. A single oven with separate grill means that you can the oven and grill at the same time, which gives you a little more flexibility and can also help speed up the cooking process. Double ovens combine a smaller capacity oven with a grill and a larger oven. Double ovens have the advantage of letting you cook foods that need different temperatures at the same time. A good example of this is a roast dinner with all the trimmings. Roast potatoes need a much higher temperature than the meat does in order to cook and crisp up properly, so you can cook your roast in the larger capacity oven and the roast potatoes in the smaller oven.

Pizza Ovens

Traditional wood fired pizza ovens were once only available for commercial catering use. You can now buy domestic versions of these ovens, typically for outdoor use in the garden although many can also be installed in your kitchen. Pizza ovens can generally be installed for you, although there are also models which you can install yourself. There are both traditional terracotta ovens and more modern styles and materials available although they generally both work the same way. The ovens are wood burning and need to be heated until the temperature in the oven is even.

Mini Ovens

Mini ovens a small capacity counter top ovens which also feature a grill and double hotplates situated on top of the unit. Other features include a safety glass viewing window, pilot light, thermostatic controls and enamel finishes on the exterior which makes the oven easy to clean. Usually, an oven tray with a roasting or wire rack is also included.

Toaster Ovens

Toaster ovens are smaller capacity counter top ovens with a variety of uses. They generally consist of an electric oven and combined grill and can be used not only for toasting and warming but also for cooking and grilling other foods such as fish, meat, burgers and pizza. Other features include an internal light, timer, indicator light, adjustable thermostat and automatic shut off.

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