Saturday, January 26, 2013

Ovens Divided into 2?

After crossing commercial alternatives off my list, I wondered about other residential specialty ovens, and if they might work to do the job for me.  This came about, particularly, when an e-friend suggested searching for an oven without a porcelain coating.  Since both steam ovens and speed ovens offer stainless interiors, I focused some research in those directions.

A popular speed oven by GE: Monogram's Advantium.
Based on great reviews, the one GE oven I might consider.
Speed ovens, offered now by several manufacturers, combine microwaves with other baking methods, which I wasn't sure was the right functions for pizza baking.  I know it can offer some cool features for varying types of items, and I'd be glad to have one if space and money were no object (objects?), but its biggest claim seems to be speed -- no surprise, based on the name.  But speed is not my priority.  It can microwave, as well as the combo of convection and microwave, but I didn't need the overlap in the function with the more affordable microwave we already have.  They are expensive for the size... up to $3000.  Frankly, I didn't thoroughly investigate these, as I got distracted by steam ovens, an old temptation, instead. 

Steam ovens combine varying levels of controlled steam and convection to bake/cook/warm without drying.  Miele and others offer steam ovens, but I had been especially intrigued by the Gaggenau Combi oven when we were building our house, and strongly considered planning one into our kitchen.  But in one conversation with my then-favorite appliance guy, and he talked me out of it for 2 reasons.  1) It is a relatively tiny size for preparing dishes for a family of 10, and 2)...the $7000 price tag was outrageous for our budget.  But ever since then, I've read a number of glowing reviews by people who own them; most of them saying that they use them more than their regular oven.  

from Purcell Murray Blog 
I also had the chance to see one recently at a Gagg distributor's showroom.  They are bigger than they look, as they can hold a baking half-sheet, but back to front, rather than side-to-side. The rep's explanations, citing her own personal experience with one at home, had me lusting for one.  But she confirmed that one of those units cost almost as much as a double wall oven... And she meant, their more-expensive-than-all-the-rest double wall oven!  That's a LOT.  I had to walk away... again.

Wolf steam oven

The Wolf steam oven is pretty new.  I was reading through a couple of Gardenweb Appliance forum discussions about them (here and here), and looking into details on the Wolf site, getting excited about what it might do, and what it might mean, in particular, for the texture and tooth of pizza crust and artisan breads - Soft and chewy inside, and crispy outside... Perfect!   It's less expensive than the Gaggenau version, but still pricey at $3800, MSRP. 

Truthfully, I was thinking that even though it costs the consumer that much, it doesn't cost Wolf that much, so maybe they'd do something special to help me through my Wolf oven issues. It couldn't hurt to ask...

Wolf Steam Oven over Wolf Single E-series,
as shown on
$3800 over $4200 = $8000.  OUCH.
Since Wolf seemed to think that it might be my pizza baking that probably caused my porcelain the most trouble, I started by inquiring as to whether I was right in thinking it might take on the pizza task, while I got a Wolf E-series single for my baking done with more moderate temperatures.  

Not only did they not 'bite' in offering to swap my double oven for the combo of single and steam in order to outfit me with Wolfs that would suit my baking style better, but the customer rep's initial reaction indicated doubt that the single oven would hold up to my frequent baking, even without the pizza baking.  She responded again later, rethinking and deciding it would probably work, and assuring me that they would stand behind the single if I made that move and had problems again.  But no offer of financial help on the switch, even when I said the $3000 gap between the refund and the purchase price of the 2 new ovens was too much for me to leap. Especially since such a buy would be based on some reservation and doubt, I was ready to move on. 

Turning from Wolf to search greener pastures was made even easier when my current favorite appliance guy had come up with a suggestion I could get (guardedly) excited about...

After getting answers to my questions that put me as at ease as I can be with his suggestion, I forged ahead and my new oven arrives Monday.  I'll tell more about it after that!

Previous discussion on this most recent oven drama:


For past oven issues, see posts under the tag of 
oven saga

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