If you have been living in rented houses for the last 10 years (like me), then you probably think you are an average baker. But what if I told you that half of the skill of baking is actually about having a really incredible oven? People who boast about being great bakers know their oven, and are very protective of their ovens. I know a few pastry chiefs who will only bake in their oven and not any other.
Before we brought our new house, I had been living in rented terrace houses for a long time. For some reason, they all seemed to have gas ovens; gas ovens with broken pilot lights and no igniter; broken gas ovens with no igniter and a broken door seal that did not stay shut that had not been cleaned in years! These are the ovens that need to be repaired.
So yes, while I was using these terrible ovens that had not been repaired in the last decade, and as I filled the house with heat and smoke, I thought I might not be a very good baker. What I am realising now is that a lot of my failures came from trying to bake in terrible ovens. As we start to plan and think about renovating our kitchen (We are just on the painting and planning side of things now) But as we start to think about it, I am wondering weather or not to get a gas or electric oven for our new home.
Gas ovens are faster, cheaper and better for the environment than Electric Ovens. You can find them as part of a freestanding range, as a single wall oven, or, though rare, in double wall ovens. Gas ovens are connected to the main gas supply of the house but will often also need and electric connection also. This is because a lot of gas Ovens still require electricity for the pilot light and the fan and internal light globe.
You should keep in mind that while almost all homes are equipped with electrical hookups for stove and ovens, often gas oven hookups do not come standard. This means that if your house does not have the hookup in place, you will need to pay to have one installed. Gas ovens are available in both traditional and convection varieties.
Not all towns in Australia have gas lines and gas mains for residential properties. Check with your local council if you are renovating your home outside of the major Australian cities as you may need to have gas delivered to your home in bottles.
The Benefits of a Gas Oven
A gas oven does not take as long as an electric oven to heat up. In turn, this means that a gas oven is also a lot quicker to turn off and cool down. This is perfect for using the oven in Summer when you do not want to fill the house with heat to make a birthday cake. Because they are quick to heat up they use less energy and resources in the baking and cooking process.
A Gas oven creates a wetter cooking environment. Moist cooking is a term often used to describe baking in a gas oven. While there are benefits and disadvantages to Moist Cooking, it all depends on what you want to bake. Moist Cooking will mean that your food will not dry out as much as if it were cooked at the same temperature in an electric oven. Moist Cooking is excellent for roasting meats, vegetables and making casseroles and quiches. Moist Cooking, does a have a few disadvantages, see below.
A Gas oven has a lower running cost than an Electric oven. This is because gas is a cheaper resource than electricity. It is also because Gas cooking (and having gas in the home) is seen as more environmentally friendly and therefore subject to government rebates and subsidies.
A Gas Oven will keep cooking in a black out. Because a gas oven does not rely on electricity to cook and bake, it will still be going if there is a power outage or black out in your town or suburb.
A gas oven is low maintenance. A gas oven is far more durable than an electric oven and requires less maintenance than an electric oven. This is because a gas oven has a lot less moving and functioning parts to it, therefore less things that can break. The element and heating functions of an electric oven wear out and can fault at any time. The Heating element in an Electric oven lasts for about 10 years before is burns out, where as a Gas Oven does not have this sort of life span. In a gas oven, the flame does not need nearly as much attention.
The Disadvantages of a Gas Oven
Typical complaints about gas ovens are that they do not maintain a consistent temperature and, therefore, cook food unevenly. This is not a true comment that can be applied to every gas oven, as they are all different. While some gas ovens do cook unevenly, with the hotter part of the oven being the back as it is closer to the flame, a gas oven with a fan will be very even.
A gas oven is not as dry as an Electric Oven. Moist Cooking can be seen as both an advantage and a disadvantage. Because a gas oven has a wetter cooking style, it is harder to bake sponge cakes, pavlova and dehydrate vegetables and fruits. It is also more difficult to bake bread and pizza’s in a gas oven than in a stove as they do not dry out completely.
A Gas Oven can be seen as not as safe. A huge disadvantage for Gas ovens is that they are perceived as being potentially dangerous in the family home. Gas is a dangerous substance to have in the home if it is not treated carefully and not maintained and repairs when needed. If the pilot light in the gas ovens goes out then there is a fear that the room will fill with gas slowly and kill everyone. I am not sure how likely this is to happen but I have never heard of it.
A gas Oven is harder to control the temperature. This is because a gas oven is dealing with a flame and not an electrically set temperature control. A flame can be harder to manage. Also because a gas oven does use a flame, it cannot get as hot as an electric oven can.
Repairing a Gas Oven
While Gas ovens have less moving parts than an Electric oven, and will not require as much servicing – the repairs made to a gas oven are far more important. Broken gas ovens are seen as a huge danger and threat to the whole family and will need to be seen to by a professional as soon as possible. Gas leaks are always a huge concern with repairs to Gas Ovens.
Electric ovens cook food through the radiation of heat from a heating element that is either visible on the top or bottom of the oven, or hidden. The heat waves created by this heating element bounce off of the metal walls of the oven and cook the food contents. Electric ovens have the reputation of much more even temperature and cooking that gas ovens. They are easy to use, easy to clean, and easy to find. Electric ovens are available in both traditional and convection varieties.
They can be hooked up to the home power supply easily and come as standard in most homes built in the last 20 years.
The Benefits of an Electric Oven
Electric Ovens can get VERY hot. The temperature in an electric oven goes a lot higher than in a gas oven. So high in fact it can have it’s own self cleaning feature. A self cleaning feature is where the oven can get to over 900 degrees and turn all the food particles to ash! True story. When it is happening the oven actually locks itself closed to prevent accidents and burns.
An Electric oven offers dry cooking. This is the term used to describe an electric oven in comparison to a gas oven. Dry cooking is best for baking, making cakes, sweets, pastries and making bread. It is also good for dehydrating fruits and vegetables.
An Electric Oven offers more precise temperature control. There is a finer degree of control with an electric oven, and cooking can be far more precise in an electric oven. This is because the temperature is electronically set before hand and is far more precise than a gas Oven.
The Disadvantages of an Electric Oven
Electric ovens tend to be smaller than Gas Ovens. This is not a problem exactly, but it does mean that you should be careful of the size of the oven you buy. The internal size of an electric oven can be a lot smaller than it looks on the outside, due to thick insulated walls. When shopping for an electric oven, be sure to take your largest baking dish with you to make sure it fits.
Repairing an Electric Oven
Electric ovens are more likely to require regular repairs than a gas Oven. An electric oven will need to have the element changed eventually. Because an electric oven cooks quite dry, it will also need closer attention paid to the seals of the door and its ability to close tight. The seals will eventually dry out and need to be replaced faster than an electric oven.
Because Electric ovens are more common than Gas Ovens (Which tend to be preferred in commercial properties) it is easy to get ovens repairs and the parts are often more readily available.