The art of baking: Types of Ovens, their history and Uses
For the most part, baking has been a go to for those who have intense passion for food and cooking. This is particularly so because we tend to think of baking as complex. An activity that would mostly require a full fledge kitchen with ingredients, decorating tools, finishing touches and such like equipment. I wouldn’t fault you for such thinking because at times you look at a recipe like for this puffy coffee brownies and immediately you feel like your kitchen lacks the very essentials for this kind of bake.
Good news is that you probably just require some ingredients, most critical of which is floor, sugar and some butter. After ingredients you probably want to acquire some skills with dough then an oven. There is a million equipment you can use to ease the process or sophisticate it but if you just want to get baking, some ingredients, some skills and an oven would do just fine.
TYPES OF OVENS
Whether you are just trying out some new baking or you are extremely experienced and professional at it, you agree your key baking instrument is the oven. Once the prep is all said and done, good and average baking skills are separated by the oven and the skills on how best to use the oven. As such, in this article, we want to narrow our attention to the different kinds of ovens that exist.
Ovens are of different kind each with its own heating and heat retention methods, features, styles and sizes. Ovens date back about 5000 years ago, a period during which, the ancient Greek revolutionized cooking by introducing front – loading bread ovens. This invention would see changes only 300 years ago by merit of cast iron cooker. The gas oven and stove would see their creation in 1826 and the electric oven would come in 1891 about 65 years later.
Conventional ovens have been the go-to oven for most modern kitchens since the early 50’s. they use a bottom-up heat transfer from a fixed source, usually a burner element or a gas flame inside the oven house. Regardless the heat source type, baking is the same. Heat rises and cooks the food from underneath. They feature a broil function that allows for cheese melting if you pop a dish just inches under the broiler. Most modern conventional electric ovens allow you to use both top and bottom features at the same time.
Gas ovens heated from bottom to top with a gas flame as the heat source. They have a separate compartment for broiling although some models allow you to use the top and bottom features simultaneously. This type of oven is most known for heating food very quickly and facilitating temperature control, a darling for the pros. Its size also allows for large amounts of food to be cooked at once.
Some of the disadvantages is that its most prone to fluctuating temperatures hence uneven heating. This is particularly a problem because gas ovens produce more humid air thereby requiring more time to properly brown or crisp your food.
These ovens are more expensive upfront to purchase compared with electric ones. It goes without saying that you will not need electricity running to operate this type so that’s a plus. They are best suit for anyone who wants to cook food quickly and doesn’t mind the occasional inconsistent temperatures.
These are very similar to the gas ovens sharing the bottom-up heat transfer and a variety of options. These ovens use a burner element powered by electricity. Over the years, they have been modified to be more effective in terms of electricity consumption. They are less expensive to buy and they do not release much moisture into the air hence less prone to temperature fluctuation. You don’t have to worry about burnt ages and hot spots with these ones.
They are best suit for anyone who wants an easy time using and cleaning the oven as it ensures fantastic results every time. If you prioritize even heating and consistent temperatures, it’s a no-brainer. It produces a drier heat that’s most suitable for roasting and baking. If your household does not readily accommodate gas appliances, you are better off with these electric ovens
This type of oven comes with a fan and an exhaust system. The convection fan circulates hot air ensuring the food is heated from all directions. It cooks food much quicker and also more crisply. This oven is best known for cooking food faster and more evenly reducing the likelihood of hot and cool spots. The convection ovens are highly versatile and come in different types. Just like the conventional ovens, they are both gas and electric powered. They can either be stand alone or come as an added feature of conventional such as toaster ovens ad microwave. The toasters allow you to turn off the convection setting at will for greater convenience.
If you love roasting chicken, you’ll be happy to know that these convectional ovens roast much faster and allow for crispier skin just like when cooking in a rotisserie grill. It also allows you to cook more than one meal because the heat circulates. The convection oven is best suited for professionals or experienced cooks. It’s ideal for cooking that requires precise temperatures and even heat distribution. saves effort time and energy but will require you to change some of your recipes.
The downside comes when baking bread, pies and other recipes that require bottom-up heating. In bread for instance, when using a convection oven, its better to turn the fan feature off to stop circulating the air inside the oven. Doing this promotes heat transfer from bottom up. It prevents the bread from forming a crust early on that kill rising permanently.
A darling countertop appliance since the 1970’s. smaller than a microwave in size, the toaster ovens are mostly used for baking bread or pizzas, grilling meat and roasting vegetables. The toast feature means that the heat comes from the top and bottom elements simultaneously. Toaster ovens are cheap and take up very little space in your kitchen.
They are also very easy to install and use but they are limited in the amount of food they can cook at a go and the quality of baking compared to larger ovens or even a microwave. Toaster ovens are best suited for those with a limited budget or kitchen space. It’s perfect for simple baking and cooking needs such as toasting, browning, broiling and defrosting small amounts of food.
Perfect little magic boxes for every home kitchen that allows you to reheat food and cook simple meals. Microwave ovens are designed to heat food very quickly and efficiently. Microwaves rely on high frequency microwaves which are a form of electromagnetic radiation. They heat food in a matter of minutes or seconds. They are commonly available with convection too which allows a better texture in some foods.
Microwave ovens are best suited for people on the go who want their food ready in a matter of moments as they are fast, easy and ultra-convenient. Best to keep in mind that these ovens are best for precooked meals.
Traditional ovens/ Earth ovens
This is a back to the future method of cooking. Arguably invented before the introduction of the front-loading bread ovens by the ancient Greek over 5000 years ago. The earth oven is one of the healthiest cooking methods that’s so ancient yet advanced in its features. This is the most efficient fireless cooking there is to date. If you want to enjoy the natural sugars and juices of any fleshy meal, cook it without adding a thing and enjoy the richness of all it nutritional value, look no further.
As the name suggests, the oven in subject was created primarily from earth material. From soil. The principle was that soil Is the best insulator. The oven was made in such a way that it would withhold so much heat. This retained heat would then be used to bake and cook respectively. Very early in the morning, one would burn firewood in the oven for about an hour or even two. Heating time depends on how hot they’d need the oven.
After the heating is done, the fire is taken out and the burnt material removed to create space for the food on the floor of the oven. At this point, the oven is so hot it could literally do pizza in less than 3 minutes. Such high temperatures are perfect for baking bread. As the oven cools off in the course of the day, different foods that require lower temperature can be cooked in it.
Modern earth ovens have been designed to optimize all heat from the oven. Some have chambers for boiling water attached to it so that as the oven is baking inside, any escaped heat can be channeled and used for boiling water or prepping beans and other cereals.