04.Light and steamy cooking
A new generation of ovens claims to offer quicker cooking times and/or healthier food. So how do they work?
Take an ordinary combination convection/grill/microwave oven, add a halogen lamp and you have the LG SolarDom Light Oven (around $1250). Despite the name, it doesn't cook using just light - the light's main purpose is to assist browning and heating on some preset functions only, and our tests found that cooking times were only somewhat reduced.
New on the market, the BOSCH Light Speed oven (around $2100) is a similar concept and claims to cook up to 70% faster than a conventional oven. We've yet to put it to the test.
While the above models are microwave combination ovens with extras, LG's latest built-in oven (from around $3000) is a conventional oven but with halogen heating to speed up the cooking.
Steam ovens claim to produce healthier food than conventional ovens because fewer nutrients are lost. They can produce good results, but there are some limitations. Steam ovens aren't capable of browning foods, so if you don't want pallid meat, you'll need to grill or fry it before or after steaming. And compared to a conventional oven, steam ovens aren't very versatile (and there are cheaper ways of steaming food).
KLEENMAID , MIELE and SMEG have models. Typical prices are $2500-$3600.
If you like the idea of steam but want more versatility you could look out for the combination steam and conventional ovens produced by AEG ($3300 - $4500).
There are ovens with automatic cooking programs for a multitude of food types, ranging from biscuits to roast chook. You select the type of food and specify the weight, and the oven sets the time, temperature and oven functions needed to cook it. BOSCH's touch screen control oven (around $2100) has 51 programs plus subcategories; LG's speedcooking model (around $3000) has up to 40 auto-cook menus.