Got extra kitchen space to spare? A double oven may suit your needs if you entertain often or have a large family. They are different to wall ovens as they are two distinct ovens, each with its own set of functions, but they are stacked one on top of the other into a larger unit. They allow you to bake and grill different dishes at the same time on different temperatures and settings – such as a roast and a meringue.
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Double ovens typically range from about $1300 to $4000, but they can cost up to $8000 or more.
The main thing you'll need to decide on is the configuration of your double oven. Some are actually two full-sized ovens, and some are a smaller half-oven on top of a full-sized one. Consider how much space you have in your kitchen, and what you'll be using the second oven for.
Three or more shelves can be handy, especially if you want to cook several things at the same time. Check the half-oven has enough shelf positions to suit your needs. Most half-ovens come only with one shelf and one grill tray or baking tray.
These should be intuitive and easy to use.
Check that the functions in the half-oven suit your needs, as they tend to be limited – generally, top and bottom element (convection bake) and grill. Only some have fan-forced, fan-assist or other extra functions.
Shelves should have safety stops to prevent them from being pulled out accidentally, and shouldn't tilt when pulled out with a load.
The element should be recessed into the top of the oven or have a shield so that it isn't exposed and can't be accidentally touched. This is particularly important if you place the oven under the bench.
This should be easy to slide in and out, and come out far enough that you can place food towards the back. Look for a safety stop mechanism to stop it from pulling right out. A smokeless grill tray will trap fat and grease below it, rather than under a wire rack.
A stainless-steel exterior should be fingerprint-resistant as it will save cleaning time.
Pyrolytic ovens need a heat of 500°C to make a dent in the baked-on food, but it will turn to ash when exposed to that heat.
Catalytic liners are removable cleaning surfaces that can be stuck to the oven walls, so when the oven is heated to 250°C for an hour it will burn off the splatters, needing only a wipe when cool.
It's important that your oven has:
- A smokeless (or anti-spatter) grill tray, with a perforated plate rather than a simple wire rack; this helps stop the collected fat from spitting and flating up
- Two oven shelves
- A baking tray
And as long as your oven has the following features as a minimum you'll be good to tackle any baking tasks:
Works well for multi-shelf cooking, reheating, pastries and roasts. It uses the fan with heat coming from the element surrounding it and generally heats up more quickly, evenly and efficiently.
Conventional or traditional
Uses heat from the top and bottom elements with no fan. It provides reasonably even heating, but tends to be slightly hotter towards the top, allowing food to brown on top. It's ideal for single trays of biscuits, scones, muffins, slices and egg dishes like quiche or baked custards.
Ideal for foods that require a short cooking time and only use a maximum of two shelves. Heat comes from the top and bottom element with a fan that circulates the hot air.
As the name suggests, is ideal for pizzas and other dishes where browning on the base is required, like meat pies, fruit pies, focaccia and bread. It uses high heat and a combination of 'base heat' and fan or fan-forced where heat comes from the elements surrounding the fan as well as the bottom element. Pastry bake function is similar, using the fan and bottom element.
Uses the grill element and the fan. It's ideal for large cuts of meat like roasts, or meats that require longer cooking times like chicken legs and sausages. It's also great for baked vegetables and for browning and crisping the top of pasta/potato bakes.
Uses heat from the grill element and is ideal for smaller, tender cuts of meat. Unless stated in the instructions, grill with the oven door closed and use one of the top two shelf positions.
This is an alternative to pizza mode where heat comes from the base element only. It's also ideal for foods that require a crispy base, like pizza. Cook in the lower half of the oven when using this function, and use aluminium trays for even browning.
Uses heat from the elements surrounding the fan as well as the smaller element above the food. This setting allows you to preheat your oven quicker than you could in fan-forced mode. It's also ideal for cooking frozen pre-packed foods, which can be placed straight into the oven from the freezer.
Uses no heat, but rather air is circulated by the oven to defrost the food. This mode can also be used to raise yeast dough and to dry fruit, vegetables and herbs. However, to reduce the chance of bacteria growing on food at unsafe temperatures, we'd recommend defrosting food in the fridge or microwave.
Automatic cooking functions
Also known as assisted cooking functions, these include recipes that correspond with the information programmed in the oven. Simply follow the recipe and the oven will work out the operating mode, shelf position, cooking time and temperature.
If you cook lots of meat and roasts, an oven with a food probe will help take the guess work out of achieving tender, juicy meat. Simply insert the probe into the fleshiest part of the meat and select the desired temperature or degree of cooking. The oven will complete cooking once the temperature is reached.
Adjustable pre-set temperatures
Give you a useful indication of what temperature is best for the food type and function being used.
Rotisserie and spit roast functions
Allow you to cook meat continuously without having to turn and baste the food. The fat in the meat drips over the surface as the rotisserie spins.
Uses the lowest temperature and the top element, providing a warm, moist environment, perfect for proving yeast dough. Keep in mind any oven can prove dough by simply preheating to the lowest temperature and then turning it off. Place a bowl of water on the bottom and then put the dough on a shelf above, covered with a towel.
Maintains an oven temperature around 60-85°C to keep food warm without continuing to cook.
Uses heat from the top and bottom elements and a low temperature, usually around 70-120°C. Use this function for gentle, slow cooking of seared, tender pieces of meat in ovenware without a lid.
To separate an extra-large oven cavity into two separate spaces that can be operated simultaneously. For example, the top section operates as a grill, while the bottom section can be set to fan-forced.
Installation height is important, so choose according to the shortest cook's height. If a half-oven will get the most use, choose one that's located below the main oven and install it at the right height for easy access.