Spring Cleaning

I would love to add a steam oven to my kitchen at home.

I don’t have a steam oven at home. The closest I’ve come is a combi oven in the restaurants I have worked in. I loved those ovens because I could cook dozens of hard-cooked eggs at once, perfectly steam vegetables, or reheat almost any kind of leftover imaginable without it drying out or seeming like it was over-cooked. In my restaurant days, if you had told me I could have a steam oven at home, I probably would have laughed in your face. How times change….

One of the benefits of my job is that I get to try out all of the live cooking equipment in our showrooms. Not long ago, I spent a week baking bread in our Hyannis showroom. If you bake bread, you’ve probably tried a few different methods for ensuring that you have moist heat in your oven. From pans of water in the bottom of the oven, to opening the door and spritzing every few minutes, to spraying or brushing the loaf with water before putting it in the oven; moist heat helps you achieve that strong, but chewy crust associated with sourdough and other artisan breads. So, during that week of baking bread, I made a point of using several of the steam ovens in our showroom. I made three French sticks, following Julia Childs’ very specific instructions and, instead of painting the dough, or opening the oven and spritzing, I decided to bake each one in a different steam oven. Was there a difference? Absolutely. Each loaf was perfectly cooked, and nicely browned with that perfectly chewy, yet slightly crunchy crust that had always eluded me.

How each of the steam ovens I tried works is basically the same. They were all combination ovens, which simply means you can use them as a regular oven, convection oven or as a steam oven. To get steam, you fill a water reservoir with clean tap water, and select one of the steam options on the oven. Depending on the brand, you can select a pre-programmed option (and yes, bread is one of them), or you can choose to add steam to another standard option. This was what I did. I chose to add steam to the convection bake option I normally would have used to bake my bread. This allowed me to choose how much steam to add to the process. For the bread, I chose the lowest steam setting offered and baked for the stated time in the recipe.

Steam ovens are not just for bread baking. I have also used them to roast a tenderloin, bake cupcakes and cakes, and reheat leftovers. What makes them great for a home kitchen is that they help to maintain the quality of the food being cooked. If you’re reheating leftovers, they don’t dry out. If you’re cooking vegetables, fresh or frozen, you’ll retain more nutrients, color, and flavor. The same holds true for meats cooked in a steam oven.

If you’re still unsure, stop by one of our showrooms for a demonstration.