Well, here it is. The post you’ve all been waiting for—an update on the workings of the oven in my new electric stove. I wish I had good news to report, but I do not.
A week or so ago, two men from Dave’s Appliance came to test the oven. As far as their readings were concerned, nothing was amiss, but they turned down the oven’s electronic setting by ten degrees. In talking with them, we also learned several facts.
First, our complaint is not uncommon, and they have had to go many homes with new electric stoves. One irate customer even produced a burnt loaf of banana bread as proof of her oven’s erratic temperature. Second, new ovens don’t heat the way they once did. In the old days, say the 1990s, the temperature was controlled by a mercury thermostat. We all know that mercury is toxic, but it sure did a good job of regulating an oven’s temperature. Nowadays, ovens use an electronic-based thermostat, and at least in low to mid-priced stoves, these thermostats have huge swings where they overshoot the temperature by a lot and then cool back down. (Hence burnt banana bread and cookies.) To make matters even worse, the oven announces it is up to temperature when in fact it isn’t. The men from Dave’s recommend preheating the oven for twenty minutes.
The final cherry on the sundae is that the men from Dave’s told us that we could spend three times what we spent on our stove and still have the same problem. After they left, Clif did some research online, and the information he found confirmed what we had been told.
Clif turned our oven’s setting down another twenty degrees, and I made a batch of biscuits to test the new settings. Now, I am rather proud of my biscuit-making abilities. Usually, they are light and fluffy through and through. However, with the new oven, even with the lower settings, the bottoms were not burnt, but they were hard and crunchy, not what I want for biscuits.
Yesterday, I spoke with the folks at Dave’s and told them about my oven woes. I was assured that I could return the stove and just pay the difference if we bought a more expensive one. However, because of what we have learned about modern ovens, I am reluctant to do this. We could spend more and still have the same problem.
So here is what we are considering—a large convection toaster oven, one big enough for pies and pizza and even a 9 x 11 pan. My daughter has a toaster oven she swears by, and she sent me a link to Bon Appétit’s glowing review of a Hamilton Beach Easy Reach Convection Oven (model #31126). According to Bon Appetit, the Hamilton Beach is not only very affordable—$70—but bakes like a champ. And at the little house in the big woods, we do a lot of baking.
In retrospect, I’m not sure what we would have done if we had known ahead of time about the foibles of low-to-mid-range priced modern electric ovens. Waited until we had enough money for a much more expensive one? Installed a gas stove, which has a more responsive heat? (Unfortunately, we would have to pay a significant fee to have it hooked up, and we have a budget as big as a minute.) Held on to the old one, keeping our fingers crossed that the door didn’t just give out entirely in the middle of a batch of cookies?
Here is a lesson we have definitely learned: The next time we buy an appliance, we will be sure to research the hell out of what we are buying. We will not assume that the new model will be as good as the old model, even though it is from the same manufacturer. (Our old stove was a Whirlpool, our new stove is a Whirlpool, and Clif feels as though we’ve been sucked down a whirlpool.)
Onward and upward!