A high quality range cooker is the cornerstone of any busy kitchen. A range cooker is different to an oven and hob combination in that the oven and hobs are built into one unit. A range cooker usually has four top burners and may have two oven compartments. This makes range cookers a good choice for anyone looking to do a large amount of baking, or who regularly needs to prepare large meals.
Why Choose a Range Cooker?
Range cookers are designed for use by large families and dedicated cooks. They feature generous capacity ovens, four or more hob burners, and handy extras such as fish kettles and grill plates. This means that they are useful for people that need to cook multiple dishes at different temperatures, and they are also useful for people who cook a lot of different meats.
A range cooker usually has a much bigger oven compartment than a standard oven. This may not be important to you if you primarily cook small meals, but if you regularly cook large birds, multiple small dishes, or things which require large, deep pans then a range cooker is a good choice. The number of hobs offered by a range cooker (usually 4-6) is also beneficial, allowing you to steam vegetables, use a traditional frying pan, simmer gravy and still have hobs left over for other tasks. If you had a smaller cooker and hob set up, you may have to resort to using the microwave for some tasks instead.
Range cookers are a good choice for would-be chefs who have a decent amount of vertical space, and would like to merge their cooker and oven into one area of their kitchen, instead of taking up valuable cabinet space for separate devices. Most range cookers are quite deep, so they are best suited to large kitchens, but owners of smaller kitchens can make a range cooker work quite well too, if they use the counter and cabinet space they save in other areas of the kitchen to maximise their overall working area.
Range Cooker Features
Traditional range cookers are gas powered, but electric models are available too. Many chefs feel that gas powered cookers produce better-tasting food, while electric hobs offer better temperature control and more even cooking for foods that are fried or boiled. If you have the option of purchasing a hybrid range cooker, which has a gas cooker and electric hobs, then you should favour that over an all-gas or all-electric option.
Some modern ovens have multifunction features and sophisticated presets for cooking certain kinds of food. The most sophisticated models can cook an item from start to finish – for example defrosting a joint, cooking it through, and then upping the heat for a few minutes to ensure a nice crisp finish. If you enjoy fine dining, but don’t want to have to babysit your food throughout the entire cooking process, then these programmable features will make your life a lot easier. However, if you’re a hands-on cook, you may find that those features are a waste of money, and you’d be better off looking for a simpler range cooker with some extra trays or accessories instead.
Other noteworthy features include self-cleaning oven compartments and fans. There are two kinds of self-cleaning oven technology. Catalytic self-cleaning ovens have a special lining which absorbs spills and splashes, and then breaks them down during the next cooking session. Pyrolytic self-cleaning ovens run a special self-cleaning program at the end of each use, heating the oven up to 400 degrees Celsius to completely incinerate any leftover waste. Once the oven has cooled, all you need to do is sweep up the leftover ash.
Fan assisted ovens cycle heat through the oven to ensure that food is evenly cooked. If you buy a twin oven that features a fan, this fan serves the primary oven. The secondary cooking compartment will be conventionally heated by elements at the top and bottom of the oven.
Range Oven Dimensions
Range cookers are larger than traditional ovens. There are two measurements to consider when purchasing a range cooker, the depth of the oven, and the height of the entire stove.
Range ovens come in several different sizes. The size of a range oven is given in cms, and this represents the width of the oven. Typical sizes are:
Range cookers with a width of 100cm or more usually have two cooking compartments – one large primary compartment and a smaller secondary compartment. These compartments have discrete temperature controls.
Usually, range cookers have a depth of 60cm. This is a standard depth that will match most kitchen countertops.
Oven manufacturers usually advertise cookers based on the volume of the cooking compartment. Be aware that this volume may not all be usable. Inspect the oven carefully to ensure that all the trays are adjustable and that you can position the trays in a configuration which suits your typical cooking habits. If you cook a lot of small items, you may find that a twin compartment oven is a better choice for your needs than a single oven, even though the single oven offers a greater available oven volume on paper.
Most major range cooker manufacturers provide adjustable feet with their range cookers. These feet allow standard range cookers (with a cooker and built-in hobs) to stand between 860mm and 910mm tall. Range cookers with a built-in grill in addition to the cooker and hobs are slightly taller, and usually stand between 910mm and 935mm high. If you have a much taller counter, consult the manufacturer of your chosen oven to find out if it can be safely adjusted to the height of your counters.
If you have a fairly small kitchen, a 90cm range cooker is a good choice, offering a lot of versatility in a compact package. A 90cm single-oven range cooker offers a generous amount of oven space, and a twin-oven cooker is versatile enough for the needs of most families.
Title Image Credit: Toad Hall Cottages