The Return of the Wall Oven (or Not)
Jul 6, 2004 Write an essay on this topic.
Popular Products in Kitchen Ovens and CooktopsThe Bottom Line Don't rule out a wall oven in your kitchen plan until you've made a thorough comparison.
Around 1760, an inventor made culinary history by adding heating plates and an oven to a cast iron heating stove. Before long, kitchen hearths gave way to these revolutionary stoves, though open-hearth cooking and mud ovens endured in less developed areas, and wood-fired ovens still have their unique applications today.
Kitchen stoves endured for 200 years with improvements and modifications, the greatest being electrification: wire-delivered power broke the interdependence of the cooking surface and oven on a common energy source. Kitchen designers in the 1950s and 60s showed a clear preference for wall ovens and cooktops as separate appliances over units whose conjoint now made no more sense than a combination toaster-coffeemaker. Cooks approved the divorce, finding ovens are easier to use when elevated above the floor, and new bonus storage space beneath the cooktop.
But old habits die hard, and slide-in and freestanding ranges still outsell separately installed ovens and cooktops. In Europe, where LP gas is the preferred fuel, and space is more of a premium (if you think your kitchen is small, go visit a model home in Europe), a range that hooks to a single energy source may be more practical, if not less expensive to purchase and install. In the U.S., building codes require a dedicated circuit for each major appliance, and builders and remodelers are not likely to pay electricians to run a generous supply of dedicated circuits from the panel to the new kitchen.
One disadvantage a wall oven may have over a floor or range oven is interior volume. Forty years ago, the electric wall ovens were only 27 wide, to fit into a standard 30 cabinet width, and with clearance and insulation, this left a small cavity of less than three cubic feet. Manufacturers compensated by offering double-ovens to increase the total volume, but two small ovens are only marginally more useful than one. The big ranges, on the other hand, could offer four or more cubic feet of roasting or baking volume in a single oven, and were the choice for serious cooks.
Today, with improvements in design and insulation, you can get a 30 wall oven with close to four cubic feet of interior volume (more if it isnt convection). This is no less than you will find in any 30 freestanding range. If this isnt big enough, you can find wider ovens in wider ranges (that dont have a mini-oven alongside a standard oven), or you can shell out the big bucks for a 36 wall oven. If youre concerned about roasting an oversized tom turkey for the clan, you may want to consider a Wolf or Blodgett.
As for fuel, most home cooks prefer electric (though they may prefer gas for the cooktop) because of its reputation for more even heat distribution. Installation is easier, as its cheaper to pay an electrician to run a dedicated circuit than to pay a plumber to run a gas line. (A plumber will charge $200 just to connect an appliance to a gas line, as if the pressure testing and leak-testing requires extraordinary skill.) And a gas oven requires exhaust venting as well as combustion air supply. However, with convection, the performance of gas is as good as electric, and gas ovens preheat more rapidly and can reach higher temperatures. (Have you ever seen an electric pizza oven?)
So its planning, not space, that should be the main determinant for choosing to install a wall oven and cooktop instead of a range. If your kitchen was designed to use a freestanding or slide-in range, then you are stuck with that option unless you plan to remodel. If youre starting from scratch, you will find that its much easier to plan your layout when the cooking appliances are separate. And youll like using them that way too.
|Write the first comment on this review!|