Ovens are an essential of every kitchen. There are many types, the built-in or wall oven being most popular in fitted kitchens. Kitchen stoves or ranges have ovens in them of course, with a hob over and sometimes a storage drawer under. Stoves (or ranges) are often called freestanding ovens or freestanders in New Zealand.
What's the difference between a wall oven and a built-in oven? None at all. Both terms refer to the fact that these ovens need to be built into a cabinet and installed against a wall, whether under a bench or in an oven tower. They may be installed under-bench in an island of course.
What type of oven?
You have an enormous choice of ovens. Leaving aside the ‘freestanding ovens’, which are really stoves or ranges, you have simple mechanically controlled 4-function budget ovens up to electronic, 12-function self cleaning ones. Traditional gas ovens, steam, dual fuel and electric ovens. Mostly they come in standard sizes with the most common being 600mm x 600mm to fit the standard Euro-size kitchen cabinet. There are 900mm wide ovens of various heights and capacities.
These are by far the most popular choice for built in wall ovens. With a huge choice and price range there’s something for all tastes and pockets. Electric ovens are usually equipped for a number of cooking functions such as conventional cooking, fan forced, fan assisted, grill, fan assisted grill, bottom heat, top heat. Defrost is usually available too. Just as important is the oven capacity, you don’t have to settle for anything less than 65L of useable space these days, even on a tight budget.
Although less versatile than electric ovens and with far less choice, many people still prefer gas ovens over electric for the succulent roasting and moist baking. Gas combustion produces a lot of moisture, which produces a hot moist cooking environment that prevents roasted and baked foods from drying out. Also, the moist environment of a gas oven means that less fat can be used with certain foods. More >>>
As its name suggests, a steam oven cooks with steam. The temperatures at which they cook do vary from model to model, anywhere between 100° C and 300° C. Steam gives much faster cooking times than ordinary ovens and food retains much more moisture and, it’s claimed, more vitamins than dry cooking. Steam ovens cannot brown food though so meats would need to be browned in a conventional oven first, to be finished off in steam. More >>>
In New Zealand stoves or ranges are often called freestanding ovens. A stove or range (think rangehood) is a freestanding appliance that incorporates both oven and hob in various combinations. The oven may be either gas or electric and the hob likewise. So a stove might be all gas, all electric or gas electric. Electric hob varieties are hot ring, ego and ceramic. Freestanding ovens are very popular with landlords for rental properties due to price.
Most self-cleaning ovens have catalytic panels that oxidise grease particles, turning them to ash. Increasingly popular are pyrolitic ovens that heat to a very high temperature in the region of 500 degrees Celcius to render baked on grime and grease to dust. There are ovens that combine the two methods. Pyrolytic oven cavities are coated with a very smooth enamel to make it easy to remove ash and dust particles.
There are also ovens with a steam cleaning feature. The oven cavities are lined with a proprietary enamel coating that, when activated by steam and low heat, releases grease and grime. All that’s then required is for it to be wiped away. Steam cleaning is quicker than pyrolytic cleaning, usually taking less than an hour. The ovens don't need high temperatures and don't give off fumes but neither do they clean as thoroughly as pyrolytic ovens, especially when dealing with long term baked-on deposits. The trick with these ovens is to keep them clean by using the steam cleaning feature regularly.