Over the course of my culinary career, both as a professional and now as a hobbyist, I’ve had the chance to use different types of ovens.Based on my experience, I can say that in many situations, using different oven types can make a difference in how your cakes and pastries will turn out.The different ovens I’ve used are as follows:
1. Microwave/Convection Oven (Tabletop model)
2. Conventional built-in Oven (Home model)
3. Rotary Rack Oven (Industrial model)
Microwave/Convection Oven (Tabletop model)
This is a two-in-one type of home kitchen appliance that acts both as a microwave and a convection oven.It’s a multi-purpose space saving appliance for small kitchens or for home cooks who cook sparingly.These types of convection ovens tend to have small cavities with a blowing fan situated at the back or top of the oven.Although they are small and can only bake small quantities of cakes and pastries, they are excellent for baked items that are not fluffy and delicate in nature.For example, cookies and dense cakes such as brownies bake very well in tabletop convection ovens.However, items like soufflés, genoise, and pâte à choux will not rise properly in this type of oven.The blowing fan in the small oven cavity will blow the light cakes and pastries into deformed shapes while they rise.As with all convection ovens, you will need to adjust the temperature 10 – 25 degrees Celsius lower than what you would normally set in a conventional oven and reduce the baking time by 10-20% accordingly.
Conventional built-in Oven (Home model)
Conventional ovens are fantastic at baking just about everything since it is gentle heat that bakes the cakes or pastries.However, these types of ovens are notorious for having hot spots in the oven cavity and if you do not adjust your baking by rotating the baking sheets during the baking process, you will have cakes or pastries that are darker (and potentially overdone) on one side and lighter (and potentially underdone) on the other..Understanding the nuances of your oven will greatly determine how well your baked goods will come out in the end.
Rotary Rack Oven (Industrial Model)
Rotary rack ovens are industrial grade ovens that can fit one to two (speed) racks of 60cm x 40cm trays and are excellent at baking large volumes of goods at one go.They are ovens with a very large cavity (you can fit a few people inside!) and the convection aspect of baking is not done by a spinning fan but rather, the racks sit on a revolving turntable on the floor and will spin the racks during the baking process.This type of oven does not have any of the deficiencies of the convection or conventional ovens as explained above since the large cavity normalizes the temperature and the revolving racks spin at a rate that does not warp the baked goods.These types of ovens are extremely large and expensive and are generally only used by large professional pastry kitchens. We used this type of oven during my time at Fauchon.
What type of oven do I prefer?Outside of the rotary rack oven (which is not practical for a home chef), I would prefer the conventional built-in oven in most cases.Conventional ovens provide the most flexibility in the type of baked goods you can produce and can handle larger volumes than that of the microwave/convection types.As stated above, convection ovens are great for making cookies or even tart bases and bake savory foods very well.In my ideal home kitchen, I would have both devices at my disposal to fulfill my culinary ambitions.
An oven is an essential appliance in the pastry chef’s arsenal of tools and choosing the right one for your needs will determine just how well your baked goods will turn out.