After much deliberation and angst, Clif and I finally made a decision about our new electric range, which has made us so unhappy with its burning ways. After doing a lot of research, we found that it cost less to buy a free-standing convection oven than to return the Whirlpool electric range we just bought and replace it with an electric range with a convection oven. Therefore, we bought a free-standing convection oven—a Hamilton Beach 31103A. It came yesterday, and we were able to rearrange things in the kitchen so that no counter space was lost.
The many comments on this blog were a big help. Thanks to all of you who shared your oven stories. It made us realize two things—new standard electric ovens have a tendency to burn baked goods, and convection ovens do a beautiful job when it comes to baking.
This was reinforced the other night when we had dinner at our friend Mary Jane’s house. There were nine of us in all, and Mary Jane, who is a terrific cook, had us recount the story of our oven woes.
Richard Fortin, our library’s director, was there, and as soon as we had finished telling our sad tale, he said, “The same thing happened to us. We were burning things that we baked. But we have a convection setting in our oven, and as soon as we started baking on that setting, everything came out just fine.”
Then there was the matter of glass top versus coil top. Richard continued, “I once had a stove with a glass top, and I ruined it using cast iron.”
There were protests from some of the other guests, who successfully used cast iron on glass tops without marring the surface. It does seem as though you have to be careful not to slide the cast iron over the glass top. Instead, it has to be lifted up. Richard noted that he wasn’t that careful of a cook, and neither are we. I can easily envision sliding the cast-iron frying pan over the top. For us, coil top is best.
The next day, Richard called and told me that Kenmore has a coil-top electric range with a convection oven, and it is listed for $630. (Clif, in doing stove research, found that Consumer Reports gives Kenmore high ratings.) Dave’s, unfortunately, does not sell Kenmore, but if we had known then what we know now, then we would have gone with the Kenmore.
But as I mentioned above, it was more economical for us to buy the free-standing convection oven—there was a very good deal through Amazon—and we now have two ovens. While the Whirlpool does a terrible job with baked goods, it does a fine job with dishes that require less precision, such as chicken, baked potatoes, and casseroles. It also does a great job broiling. Finally, the free-standing convection oven, which takes a 9x 13 pan, is much more energy efficient than the larger range.
This morning, we tested our new convection oven. I made a batch of biscuits, and success! The biscuits came out exactly as they should, with nicely browned tops. The bottoms were also brown but not crunchy, the way they were when I baked a batch in the Whirpool. Instead, they were soft, just the way biscuits ought to be.
Next I will try making gingersnap cookies, which I could not get right in the Whirlpool, no matter how much I fiddled with the time or the temperature. I’ll be sure to report back.
Here is a recap for readers who will be buying a new electric range in the near future. Conventional electric ovens, even the more expensive ones, are not reliable when it comes to baking. Bottoms are burnt and middles aren’t cooked enough. However, many electric ranges—coil top as well as glass top—come with a convection setting, and this is the way to go if you like to bake. Whatever brand you choose, be sure to do some research from a disinterested source such as Consumer Reports. All ranges are not created equal.
Finally, thanks to Shannon for sending us the review of the Hamilton Beach Convection Oven. We ended up buying a larger model, but that review helped steer us in the right direction.