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The snappily named FSE60DOP is the cooker currently residing in my kitchen.
Most of the appliances in my kitchen, and the kitchens in the many houses I've lived in over the past 10 or so years, have been already fitted. I've bought the occasional kettle, toaster and microwave in the past in order to fill in the gaps, but never had to splash out for anything big, except last year when me and my girlfriend bought a washing machine, but thats another review.
What you lose in moving from house share to house share regularly over the years (friendships, thousands in deposits, an understanding of 'personal space', a regularly cleaned bathroom, books, CDs, DVD, pets, an understanding of the concept of compromise, every remaining ounce of your patience, I could go on) you gain in experience. Over the years I've tried many different types of cooker - all have been chosen for me in one way or another, and this Belling model is no exception.
-------GAS Vs ELECTRIC--------
One of the many things I take note of when viewing a house is whether or not the cooker is gas or electric. A few years ago I lived in a house with an electric hob, after living in a house for a few years with a gas hob. The difference was huge - something I was able to take for granted before was such a pain for the year or so in the new house. The hob had big metal plates that took ages to heat up and cool down - seriously, about 4 minutes to get up to temp, and still hot 15-20 minutes later. I hated this, and although its not something that will make or break a house viewing its something that goes on the mental list while checking out a place. The great thing about gas is, and as I work in a kitchen I see this advantage daily, is the ability to control heat quickly. Its one thing taking something off the heat, its another turning something down.
So, to cut a long story short - when I saw this Belling in my otherwise perfect new place place my heart sank a bit, a gas cooker really would have been the icing on the cake. We moved in and within the first few days of using the new cooker my worries were laid to rest - we had an electrical cooker that, hob -wise - was great.
Over the four hobs here you can can range from a smaller hob for smaller pans to a large hob for big pans and serious heat. The range on this is great and for those who enjoy time in the kitchen, its an appliance that will not hinder even Blumenthal levels of experimentation. This range, compared to my last cooker was great - as my previous one seemed to have either hot or hotter and if you wanted to go from a high heat to low you had to wait a considerable time to do that. One of the big boons about these hobs is just how quick they heat up and cool down. Withing seconds (about 10) of whacking even the biggest plate up it will be up to temp, and it although it you won't be able to reduce the heat as quickly as you would with gas - this is has a fairly reasonable cool down time, full to low in a minute of so. For the plate to cool down to be safe enough to touch its about 7-8 minutes.
For me, this is the biggest appeal of this cooker - the relative safety of electricity as apposed to gas but with the ability to change heat rapidly you normally only have with a gas hob.
The decent hob was enough for me, but due to a hectic moving in period, I totally missed another great feature of this cooker - two ovens! As soon as I saw this, a couple of weeks after moving in my mind started racing with recipe ideas and the benifits that two ovens have. All other cookers I've had have only had one oven and a grill - but this had one main large oven and a grill that can also double as another smaller oven. Before I've had to make cooking compromises with just one oven, but those days are over.
A great example would be pizzas. Me and my girlfriend love making home made pizzas, but we have very different tastes so have to make one each (what kind of lunatic doesn't like chilli on a pizza). Before, with our old ovens if we were cooking pizzas at each others house, it was a combination of a juggling act and a lottery as to who would get the burnt/soggy pizza and who would get the good one. Admitted, we could have cooked them separately but that means eating 20 minutes or so apart. One pizza would go on the top shelf and benefit from the heat required to cook a decent pizza, and the other on the shelf below to cook slower - with a final blast on the top shelf. This though will give you an undercooked pizza in the middle, and a burn crust. Enter the Belling! Those days are gone, thanks to the duel oven. We can now cook pizzas in the correct places in the oven at the correct temperature. Although this is great, its highlighted a couple of issues with the two ovens.
The top oven is smaller and not fan assisted so the heat is not as well distributed resulting in a slightly longer cook time, even at the same temperature setting. As its also smaller, there is less choice as the where you put it - either neat the top or at the top. There is also only two rack choices in the to, apposed to the 3 in the bottom, basically, if you want an exact cook in both ovens it will be more luck than judgment. The size of the oven and heat distribution - especially with baking really relies on settings to be exact. I've only had this problem once when cooking the two halves to a Victoria Sponge recently - with the half cooked in the bottom and half cooked in the top being slightly burned. I remedied this though, by eating the who thing almost right away.
Its the lower, main oven that gets most use in our kitchen, and we really take advantage of its Tardis like capacity. Overall, its a small cooker measuring (H)90.0 x (W)60.0 x (D)60.0, but the main oven is of a big size. This year, as every oven does every year, faced the real true oven capacity challenge: CHRISTMAS.
I have to say, it fared well - the turkey fitting just about on the top shelf with just enough room around it for air flow, a full tray on the second shelf and still room at the bottom for stuff I cooked earlier and was keeping hot. Its really important that not only does this stuff fit, but will the oven keep to temperature with the duel attack of me overloading it and me constantly opening the door to check/baste things. Handily, when the oven is at temperature it makes a small click so you know its either ready to use or is loosing heat - so this with this its nice and easy to tell if everything is getting the cooking it requires. Plus points here for the oven.
As with hobs, is a case of Gas Vs Electric - and I have to say here it didn't impress me as much as the hob - and might be the only real negative to the cooker. The bars in the grill get hot and cool down quickly, but the top rack is too close to the top and the one down is too far. The biggest problem isn't really the heat is poorly cast on the food, its that when the food spits (say your cooking sausages) it will spit onto the bars and you half little bursts of flames inside your grill. This is quite dangerous, so when that begins to happen I drop the food to the lower shelf where there is not enough heat to cook well. This has become such a problem I've taken to not cooking things fatty enough to do this under the grill, instead using alternative cooking methods.
Cleaning wise its a game of two halves. Due to is small size, its designed for small kitchens and this can make getting on your hands and knees and scrubbing out the oven a bit difficult. On top of that, inside there are lots of nooks and cranny's, lots of room for food and grease to build up and prove tough to get too and couple this with the fact it might be in a tiny kitchen (like mine) means getting to the back and hard to reach places isn't that easy. Its the same story with the grill, its hard to get into and at the back as there are a few gaps and indentations that take considerable elbow grease to get into and make perfectly clean. That's my excuse anyway for it never being perfectly clean. It has nothing to do with the fact I'm lazy.
Conversely, I'm more than happy to clean the hob. Its a perfectly flush single piece of glass covering all hobs. As its glass, it takes almost no scrubbing and if your careful not to spill anything too badly - you can clean it with no cleaning products. Just a wipe with a hot wet cloth will get this upto scratch in just a few seconds. I like to not use to hefty cleaning products on my oven because chances are when I've sprayed it all on, i'll never get it all off - only I won't find this out until I next use the oven and get a lung full of burning oven cleaner. Not nice.
Working in a commercial kitchen I spend all day with commercial appliances, so I find it quite easy to tell if the build of something seems flimsy or not. Everything I use at work is generally built to last years and to take daily abuse - many household items just wouldn't last in a commercial kitchen. As an example, after a day of opening our fridges and freezers all day, when I get home and pull open the fridge in my kitchen it feels like I'm about to rip the door off. This Belling cooker has a decent build quality - and seems like the tougher, less flimsy end of household cookers. The door is robust and can take a decent slam with no sign it might break and the top even though made of glass is pretty much scuff free, despite some quite intense work outs. All in all, I'm impressed with the sturdiness of this.
------COST AND ENERGY USE------
Cost wise, I had to do some research as I didn't buy it - and was surprised to see along side other ovens this seems great value for money. It seems other cookers of this spec cost about £450-£550, with this cooker costing just £415 new including delivery. This seems like great value, but what really sticks out just how much of a sturdy cooker you get for the price. Whilst not a cast iron agar, considering this is in the lower cost bracket for its spec, it seems like the good price is not at a compromise to the build quality.
Energy use wise, this couldn't get much better, with an A-A rating (the ratings go from A-G, A being the best - they are European wide standards) The benefit of having such a well rated cooker are two fold, it helps my pocket and the environmental - so this is another big plus.
-------WOULD I BUY IT--------
If I needed to buy a cooker in the future, this is top of my list. Not just because I've tried and tested it and I'm familiar with it, but its huge pros weigh out its minor cons - and at a price very good relative to is spec, its great value for money. I consider myself lucky to have such a great oven in my house before I moved in, as its something I use daily and its important it not only does its job, but its easy and a bit fun to use. It is a product that adapts well to my kitchen shenanigans and I would suggest this to anyone looking for a small, well built good cooker. If gas is you thing, then a gas version of this is available
After having a gas cooker for years that was on it's last legs and in hind sight I should have gotten rid of even years before I did because it was a bit of a death trap as the kitchen always smelt of gas even with it off I thought I'd play it safe this time and opt for a Belling electric cooker.
The Belling FSE60DOP took a while to adjust to from going from a gas oven which takes a second to switch on the flames as when you switch on the electric oven say hobs for instance they take around a minute until a bright hot red ring is on high enough to actually cook something.
The ceramic flat glassed topped hob is incredibly easy to clean. As it's a wipe able surface anything that is spilled or ingrained onto the surface can be cleaned by using a piece of kitchen towel with hob brite. This makes the surface look good as new and I would definitely recommend hob brite to do this but that is to say for another review.
There are two small sized and two larger surface area sized hobs. When the hobs are switched on they make a slight hum although unless you look to hear it goes unnoticeable. There is a little red safely light that comes on when you are using the hobs and I found this to work for the most part but sometimes when you turn off the hobs the red light goes and a hob could still be hot enough to burn you so take extra caution even if the red light goes out don't take it's word for it.
I haven't used the programmable timer yet as I normally cook food by checking the time and just adding the minutes to it. (E.g. if it's 8pm and a pizza takes 20 minutes, I know the pizza will be cooked by 8.20pm so no hassle of messing with a timer). The default digital screen displays a bright clear digital clock which I've checked and it's reliable never losing it's time.
The top oven with grill is great for grilling or cooking small items or for keeping things warm while you are waiting for longer duration items to cook. I found you can have the main oven on and if you open up the top oven the heat from the main oven makes its way up to the top oven so you can put things in there to keep them warm without switching anything else on. Again I must stress the top oven is only meant for small items, you can't exactly put a big chicken in it.
The large bottom main oven is fairly big. It is fan assisted which I find is very noisy. It sounds like an airplanes engine on low speed. A month of so ago the element in the back of the main oven stopped working so I had to buy another one from the manufacturer so ended up having to cook using only the top oven which was a pain, but I guess better than the whole oven not working.
The large glass doors help to see how the food is getting on, although I find they are slightly tinted or something as you really have to open up the door to see if a pizza is starting to burn as the tint makes it look like it isn't burnt but when you open the door it is starting to burn, which is so bad on the visibility front.
I picked up one of these at Christmas and 9 months later it all seems to be going well.
This product is a really nice electric double over with grill and hob. There were two things that I found attractive with this particular oven. The first was the AA efficiency rating, which was better than 95% of the other ovens on offer. With rising electricity costs this seemed like an obvious choice, even if the product is a little bit more expensive than some.
The other things that was nice about this over was it had a really good feel to the handle, and a nice smooth hinge action, which didn't require a hard tug to open it like some of the cheaper models do. This model is available in white or brushed aluminium, which has a nicer feel to it.
The bottom over seems to take a little longer to heat up than I have seen in similar sized ovens, but this is perhaps due to the energy rating. I was impressed with the evenness of the cooking. It seems that regardless of being on the top or bottom shelf, or front or back, there is quite a consistent level of cooking, which means I can fill the over confidently without worrying about hot (or should I say hotter) spots.
It is perhaps worth mentioning that this cooker is not actually 60cm wide as advised. It is a little bit thinner at about 58.5cm. This may not seem like much but if your worktop is fitted around your current cooker then there is a chance you wont have quite 60cm of space, but should still be able to slide this cooker in snugly.
Take a tape measure if you want to be sure, but this is a really snazzy cooker.
Belling FSE60DOP 60cm Freestanding Double Oven Electric Cooker / Manufacturer BellingColour Black Main Cavity FeaturesFanned ovenDefrost functionRear lightTwo oven shelves5 shelf positionsFully programmable clock and timerEasy clean enamelEnergy rating ATop Cavity FeaturesConventional oven with variable electric grillEnergy rating AHob FeaturesFour ceramic elementsRotary control with 6 heat settingsOther FeaturesLED clock/programmer / delay start and endEasy clean enamelFascia cooling systemDimensions (mm)Height 900-930 Width 600 Depth 600 / Short name: Belling FSE60DOP