Domestic oven brand recommendation?

I am looking to replace the 60cm domestic wall oven that was here when we bought our house and having never bought an oven before I was hoping for some brand recommendations and some tips on what to look out for in view to bread baking. I am in Melbourne, Australia.. Thanks!

21 comments

 Hi Nattie

I'm no expert in ovens, but I would think that just about any good brand will be suitable.

I bake with a Neff oven, which has a choice of modes, including fan forced, top and bottom heating elements, and various combinations of the three (and a bread baking mode, but the instructions don't actually say what configuration that is). It also has a bread-proving setting, useful for when the temperature is cooler. A minor bonus is that it also came with a good size baking stone and bread peel.

If your budget stretches to it, I wonder if some of the steam-injected ovens might be worthwhile too - those of us without such a luxury have to resort to all sorts of kludges to get steam into the oven for the first few minutes of the bake to achieve a good crust.

Kym.

 Hi Kym,

 

We are probably going to get a Neff oven and are just deciding on a model. It would be a bit of a stretch money wise for us to get the model with the dough proving and bread baking settings although that model also has the door that folds away under the oven which is amazing! Do you bake bread on the bread setting (it only seems to go up to 220 degrees?) and do you use the proving setting much? Its an extra $700 just for these features.

The bottom of these ovens are sloped as they have a water cleaning function where you pour water just onto the oven floor to steam clean the oven so I am guessing I can just pour water or chuck ice onto the oven floor which is kind of handy..

 Hi Nattie

I do find the proving function handy, but I probably wouldn't pay $700 for it in the absence of other advantages. It's more than just the 2 lights being on, as there is some sort of air circulation happening too.

Ours is about 4 years old, so it doesn't have the disappearing door. Like Farinam I'm slightly mystified by the bread baking function - all the instructions say are that its "hot-air", but no real explanation. Normal fan convection ranges from 40°C to 190°, Bread from 180° to 220°.

I don't know how it achieves the higher temperature than normal fan convection. Certainly, it's not essential as the other functions perform very well. I have been trying various modes, and what works well for me is to have the Neff baking stone (do they still come with that?) on the lowest shelf, and preheat the oven using the top and bottom heat setting at maximum (275°), with a small tray of water sitting on the bottom. The advantage of that is that the tray absorbs the heat from the bottom element, and boils to provide good steam. I place the bread on the stone when it's up to temperature, covering it with a cloche (a $7 metal paint tray from Bunnings!) - but the cloche overhangs the stone just enough to let the bottom tray steam directly into it. After about 15 minutes or slightly less, I remove the tray and change the mode to either fan convection with top heat at about 220° or recently to "Bread" mode at the same temperature. I often make other adjustments too, but won't complicate this too much!

I agree that almost any brand would serve - just depends on your budget.

We recently went through this exercise and also considered Bosch and St George (offers larger volume in standard dimensions according to the blurb).  Another that impressed was V-ZUG (Swiss made) but not as well known at this stage.

Camberwell Electrics is a good place to start with a good range and helpful staff (in our experience anyway).

Farinam

 Hi Farinam,

 

Which model Neff did you get?

Hello Nattie

We have Model B46E64N0AU which is the one with the multi functions and slide under door.  The latter was one of the attractions.

Because we were fitting out the whole kitchen we got oven, cooktop, microwave and rangehood which attracted a significant discount at the time. 

I've found that 220 is plenty though recently I have been using the top/bottom heat which means you can go much higher if you wish.

Farinam

So do you bake bread on the bread function? Have you used the proving function? Still tossing up between this model and the one below that is the same except without the fancy door (which I think is amazing!) and without the 2 bread related functions. What do you do for steam in that oven? The manual says not to put cold water in a hot oven as it wrecks the enamel but that is what I currently do. Also do you use a stone or tile? Sorry for the 20 questions :) thanks so much for your input.. Natasha

Hello Nattie

I have used the proving function but mainly for yeasted bread before I got back into sourdough.  My one use with sourdough left a little to be desired and was the subject of a discussion a while back on one of my earlier blogs.  It almost appears that the proving function is just the light turned on so I would suggest that if the one you are looking at has the light only function, that would serve instead of the proving if you need a bit higher temperature during winter (or for -shock,horror - yeasted bread).

I have also used the bread function which seems to be a combination of fan forced and radiant and it worked fine.  This was also covered in one of my earlier posts.  I thought that there might have been some preferential rising of the loaf adjacent to the source of heat but that is very much an open question as I have had similar effects with the top/bottom function so it is more likely due to the state of proof or slashing technique.  As you say the actual breadbaking mode in not well defined in the literature.  I am sure that Circotherm would probably be just as effective though I haven't used that for bread yet.  I might give it a try next time and report.

I have an unglazed terracotta tile that I got from Northcote Pottery as a stone.  I am sure that any tile place would have a similar thing though.  I have that on the second shelf and I put a ceramic pie dish on the bottom shelf that I put boiling water into just before putting the loaf in.  As discussed earlier, there is a certain risk associated with this approach and Rossnroller has given his hot towel method in a separate blog that might be a little less hazardous but which I have yet to try.  When I was using ice I used to drop the cubes onto the stone.

The upshot is, Nattie, that I think that you could easily get by without the extra functions.  The disappearing door is a plus in our view.

Regards

Farinam

 I am pretty new to this blog (and have been only obsessed with sourdough since my first loaf 2 months ago) so I have missed all these previous discussions but will try to locate them. Thanks..

I have been using one of those crappy bought pizza stones but I suspect it is too thin and being round is a stupid shape as I can't really use it for more than 1 loaf. Will look into getting a tile. How thick is yours?

The slightly dodgy thing about the Circotherm setting is the fact you can't bake anything on the second shelf with it on which means I guess you have to use the bottom shelf and as you are not meant to put trays on the oven floor would mean I can't put water in a tray under the stone like I do now. I guess you could put the oven tray on shelf 1 with water and put the grill rack on top of it with a stone on top of that?

Indeed the cheaper oven must be fine for baking bread. I am making decent loaves at the moment with an oven with no light, a dicky fan and a door that doesn't seal properly so it has to be waay better than that! I just don't want to spend the next 10yrs wishing I bought the next model up.

If you are up for a test run with Circotherm at some point that would be really great.

Thanks again,

Natasha

 

Hi Nattie

The tile is 330x330x15.  The oven would easily take 400square if it was available.

I know they say not to use the second shelf with CircoTherm and I think we've only used the bottom shelf with it at this stage. It's all supposed to be about uniform distribution of heat but I sometimes wonder exactly how critical that might be.

I will be baking some things over the next couple of days but I want to be sure of the outcome so it will be about a week before I would be able to test the CircoTherm mode.  When I do, I will leave the oven in its current configuration which should realy try the system out.

Regards

Farinam

Hello Nattie

I did the CircoTherm test today.  It was CircoTherm Intensive actually as CircoTherm only goes to 200C.

The oven was configured with the stone on shelf 2 and the steam generator container on shelf 1.

 

CircoTherm Intensive Test

As you can see, the loaf came out just fine.  As the room was a bit cool today I used the oven with the light on as a warmer place for the final proving and that was also very successful.

So I think you can rest assured that the breadbaking and dough proving functions can easily be done without.

Regards

Farinam

 

There are no domestic ovens with steam-injection - at least, not last time I checked. Only pro commercial bread ovens have steam-injection. They are very expensive, hog electricty, and are too large for most domestic kitchens. It's probably only a matter of time before top-end domestic ovens do incoporate some sort of steam-injection feature, but in the meantime...

Voila!

You know, though, I reckon the improvisation that is an intrinsic part of home artisan bread baking is part of the fun. We're amateurs, not pros! That doesn't mean we don't take our baking seriously - many of us are obsessive about it! And it sure doesn't mean we can't turn out superb bread - anyone who has been doing this for a while knows how good home-baked SD can be. Better, IMO, than the produce of the vast majority of commercial bakeries. I think we have certain advantages as home-bakers that outweigh things like not having steam-injection, but that's another conversation.

My main point is that the improvised steaming methods commonly referred to on forums like this are perfectly adequate to the task of turning out truly lovely SD bread. Yeasted baguettes are another beast entirely...

I'm with the folks who feel that any decent oven is up to the job. In fact, having lived with an Ilve for a lot of years (it came with the house), my view is that the expensive Euro status brands are way overpriced. Unless the Aussie dollar keeps going up and makes imports better value than local, next time I need to buy an oven it will be a quality local brand. And it will be a wall oven. Beats bending down to floor level.

Actually, there are domestic ovens on the market with steam function.  They have a water tank that you have to fill and when the function is selected, the oven draws water from that.  Not sure whether they rely on the oven heat or have a separate generator.

On our old oven, the seals were so clapped out that I had to lean against the door for the duration to have any chance of keeping some steam inside.  At that stage I was using the ice-block technique so, ice-bucket in one hand, good book in the other and Bob's your uncle!  And the bread turned out just great.

Just goes to prove that you don't need the latest and greatest.  I bet my power bill is a lot lower now though /;-{)}

Thanks for that.. I am a little unsure if you are saying that you like your ilve or that you think they are overpriced (or both?). This is one of the brands I am looking at as highly recommended by a couple of friends. I had a look this evening at Harvey Norman (only because it's a block away from my house so good place to start) and have ruled out a few brands just due to stupid shelves or small interior size so I guess I just have to look at plenty. Don't think my budget will stretch to a steam oven and hard to justify anyway as my roasting dish at the bottom of the oven works just fine.

Hi Nattie,

Re my Ilve: it's fine, but it's no better than other ovens I have used - and the small oven size is annoying. I've never seen a local brand with such a small oven!  Also, it has features that I don't need, such as a fish burner (well, moving from oven to stovetop there, but whatever...)

My view is that Ilve's stuff is way overpriced, and that quality local brands are just as good for far less outlay. I suspect the same is true not only of Ilve, but of the upmarket pricey imported status ovens generally. But then, it all depends on what one wants from an oven - and of course, you're the best person to decide what's right for you.

I certainly don't think it's necessary to splash out big bucks in the service of bread baking. Even heat distribution and reliable temperature settings are the main criteria. Any quality oven should fit the bill, whether it's local or imported.

Cheers
Ross

I believe the steam you get from those ovens isn't much better than the improvisations we use. But only going on forum heresay. Over to you if you can clarify...

Haha - like your description of applying the ice-block technique with your old oven...

Needless to say, completely agree with your comment on not needing the latest and greatest.

Cheers
Ross

Just from reading the brochures and talking to salespeople.  The claim is that it is suitable for bread baking but you could very well be right and we certainly could not justify the extra cost of the system when our work-arounds are just fine.

Regards

Farinam

 Prices of steam ovens have come down considerably lately, and there's a much bigger range available. When I was looking, prices were ridiculous (up to $12,000!), and features limited but now there are a lot available for $2-3,000 (or less).

The better ones have a mix of steam/convection/fan programs. I haven't used them, but as they can cook exclusively with steam, clearly they would be a lot better than our rather hit and miss methods. Given their other major benefits I would think they would be a no brainer if your budget goes that far.

 

Edit: Take a look at this Gaggenau demo (skip to the Baking video):

www.purcellmurray.com/larissa_gaggenau_videos.cfm#

I want one! The control this gives is impressive - not only can you control the exact humidity at any point and swap between steam and convection, but this oven allows you to inject high intensity steam into the oven at the ideal moment. And all with the door closed  - so no rollercoaster temperature shock for the bread.

 I was looking at these today ($7 grand a bit out of my price range..) and they are so tiny too! I guess you would have one as a second oven. Amazing though..

 7 grand is crazy!

I forget who distributes Gaggenau in Australia, but it sounds like they might be price gouging like some of the other Euro distributors love to do here. Some of the European brands cost double here compared to their home countries or the US.

You're not forced to play their little (expensive) game, but it is frustrating when they have some unique model or feature.

Hi Nattie,

Our oven went kaput on Good Friday last year, timing hey!! We've only been in this house a couple of years and the oven wasn't that old, maybe three years at most, it was a Euromaid, so maybe be careful of those.  We put in an AEG oven and that has been great, I bake quite a bit,sourdough, other breads, cakes and pastries, so it gets a thorough workout.  Apparently the dearer AEG models have a steam option, but that was out of our price range so I didn't ask anymore, I think it was around $5000.  (For the steam when I bake I use a large stainless steel bowl upturned onto the pizza stone, that seems to work well for me).

My previous house had a very old enormous oven so these new ones seem tiny, but I seem to be getting used to it now.  The salesman at Clive Peeters told me that Ilve have the largest interior space compared to other 600mm ovens.

Hope this helps!

Good luck!

Tania