Quick Recipes and Easy

The Joy of Convection Ovens – They’re Not Just for Restaurants Anymore

Nowadays, it is simpler for home cooks to buy professional equipment for their kitchens. For example, the convection oven is a tool used by professional bakers worldwide. Convection ovens that restaurants use are highly priced (a few thousand dollars for a excellent one) and need special wiring. But now, there are a line of table-top, home ovens that provide convection-style cooking, for only a few hundred dollars each.

When looking for convection ovens, choose what features do you want. And, compare different brands. There are many brands, such as German-made Wiesheu, US-made Kenmore or Viking. Do you want a professional oven or one for the home? Freestanding model or table-top? The larger and fancier it is, the larger the price tag. Mine is a counter-top model that also includes a built-in breadmaker and jam-maker. There are many options to choose from, so check around. The most desired kind of convection oven is the European, or “third element” type (it has three heat sources). Mine is not a “third element” style, most countertop models aren’t, but it does just fine, so don’t rule out the two-element models, they are fantastic, too. Whatever suits your needs the best, and fits within your budget.

Convection ovens cause breads to have superior crust and texture, but retain their moisture in the middle, just like a bakery. Pastries come out incredibly flaky, such as croissants or puff pastry. It is incredible how perfectly golden and evenly cooked my breads are now. Before, in a gas oven, they came out nice, but now they rise better. Breads baked in the convection oven even have a quality taste, since the strong heat carmelizes the exterior, they have a slightly nutty and sweet flavor. It’s because the oven strongly circulates the air around the inside, distributing the heat more efficiently to the food.

Some foods aren’t meant to be made using convection style, due to the air movement inside the oven. Making souffles, meringues or anything delicate is discouraged. Also, if you work with parchment, anchor it down in the oven to keep it from blowing all over the place. But, in general, nearly everything can be made in the oven, from cookies and cakes to breads of many kinds. The breadmaker in my unit is fantastic. Just load the included container with the ingredients, and the oven does the rest: mixing, poofing and baking. When it is finished, it just sounds a chime. Pies bake perfectly, my oven has a round baking rack for pizzas and pies, that rotates as it cooks. The oven also makes fantastic roasts and includes both a vertical and horizontal spit to cook with. With convection, the possibilities are nearly endless.

When converting your recipes to convection cooking, the experts say to subtract 25 degrees from the recipe’s given setting. Convection ovens cook quicker, so also decrease the cooking time by about 25% as well. Multiple racks of cookies can be baked at the same time with superior results to the less evenly cooked multiple batches in a regular oven. That is why most bakeries and restaurants use convection ovens, because they can bake in quantity without sacrificing quality of the finished product.

Don’t be worried to switch to convection cooking. Once you make the change, you will be glad that you did. I know I am. After seeing others use them and tasting their artisan breads, I chose to get my own. If you are a serious bread baker or cook, this oven will be of fantastic use to you. That is why cooking schools use and prefer them to conventional ovens. Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed. If anything, you’ll be finding excuses to do more baking. Your family will most certainly approve.

Carolyn McFann is a scientific and nature illustrator, who owns Two Purring Cats Design Studio, which can be seen at: cafepress.com/twopurringcats cafepress.com/twopurringcats. Educated at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, Carolyn is a seasoned, well-traveled artist, writer and photographer. She has lived and worked in Cancun, Mexico, among other fascinating professional assignments in other countries. Clients include nature parks, museums, scientists, corporations and private owners. She has been the subject of tv interviews, articles for newspapers and other well loved media venues.

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