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As a child, I grew up with a gas cooker in the house, but switched to electric when my husband and I had our first flat due to regulations. We bought our first oven back in 1993, and it served us well until we had to leave it behind us in 2008! We abandoned it because the previous residents in our new property had left us their old Cannon gas oven, still perfectly serviceable, and I was happy to at last return to cooking with gas.
However, it was already ten years old, and after another four years the burners began to fail, the pressure wasn't what it should have been even with annual servicing, so we began to search for a new one. After much consideration of reviews, balancing expense against reliability, we chose this model. With one near miss (one on order when Comet went under), we finally plucked up the courage to try again early this summer, and bought one from Curry's.
The immediate difference with this one is the depth front to back - we needed it to be 50" wide to fit the very narrow gap in the worktop, but the depth had no restriction, so it never occurred to me to check it. It does stick out a bit (the old one was pretty flush with the cupboards), but not so much so that it's an obstacle. Next big difference is the colour - we've gone from a very dark brown old cooker to 'Polar White' with silver handles and knobs, so it's lightened that part of the kitchen quite nicely!
The operation of the ignition is completely different - it has the now apparently almost standard thermocouple on each burner, making sure the gas cuts off in the event of the flame blowing out. The down-side to this is that it takes a while for the thing to heat up enough to realise that the flame is there in the first place. Since it means that the ignition is firing for prolonged periods, it makes more sense to me that the oven had to be plugged in to the mains, although it still seems odd, if I'm honest, plugging a wholly gas oven into the electrics. Still, when it takes from sixty to ninety seconds to light the grill (pressing the knob in all of this time), at least we're not constantly forking out for batteries....The grill is the worst offender; the hob rings don't take too long to get up to heat (twenty to thirty seconds), the oven's slightly quicker than that. Even the top oven's relatively quick, and it shares the same space as the grill.
As for the heat it gives out, pans boil very quickly, which is great! Unfortunately the smallest ring gives out so much heat, that even when it's at its lowest setting, simmering is practically impossible. It's easier to simmer pans on the big rings, funnily enough. I expect that over time this will 'improve' as the pipes silt up?! The grill exceeded my expectations (when it eventually lit), and actually toasts quite quickly. My expectations were low due to the reviews that I had read, most of which stated that it was fairly useless. This seemed to be universally the case with all oven grills, however, so it had no real bearing on the purchase of this oven. In fact, it cooks oven chips, chicken nuggets & fish fingers perfectly well, and I suspect people may have been using the low oven shelf position for the grill pan, which would site it a VERY long way from the burners. It needs to be set at the top of the rack!
The oven I'm still working on. Meat seems to take longer to cook on the same settings, so I put an extra twenty minutes on the timer and keep a closer eye on it. Baking-wise, we have yet to test it properly, but being gas it doesn't dry things out as much as our old electric, so that's a plus point. Worth noting that due to the width of the whole oven, the interior isn't massive, so I've found that some trays no longer fit in. I think the previous oven must have had thinner sides.
There's a very bright light in the top & bottom ovens, which also comes on when the grill is in operation. There is also a cooling fan above the top oven/grill which is there to stop the plastic knobs from melting. It's also great as a heater, blowing hot air into the kitchen, although this was not particularly helpful during the heatwave.
It has a digital display which is a clock most of the time and a timer when needed. Worth noting that if you always switch off at the mains over night you will need to reset the clock if you want to use it.
It's a slightly tricky timer to set, but I think we've now figured it out after three months.
There is a clear glass cover to the hob, which cuts off the gas (only to the hob though) when closed.
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE
If you have switched off the electricity overnight, there's always the risk that you might forget to put it back on. If you try to light the oven without the automatic ignition being on, the cut-out doesn't work and the oven just pumps out unlit gas, causing the potential for explosion. This happened to me the other day - it took me a few seconds to work out why the gas wasn't lighting. The electric switch had been thrown accidentally so I wasn't even aware that it was off. Something to be vigilant over.
UPDATE, 6 MONTHS IN!
I have discovered the problem with the grill ignition - occasionally it needs to be brushed off gently, as any oily smoke rising from the grill can affect its reaction to the heat, as it coats the sensor over time. I usually use the rough side of the pan scrubber, but as I said, only very gently. This does make quite a difference to ignition times.
I am pleased with this oven so far, although it's taken some getting used to. The fact that it's white is encouraging me to clean it more often, which can't be bad! The single most annoying this is the length of time that it takes to light the grill, but when it's on it does work quite adequately. I do recommend it, it's currently listed on Curry's website at £450 but it would as always be worth shopping around.
Hotpoint Ultima 50cm Double Oven Gas Cooker / Colour Polar White Features4 gas burners in 3 sizesGlass lid with safety cut outAutomatic ignitionVariable gas grillZoned gas ovenElectronic clock & minute minderSlow cook settingStay clean catalytic liners in both ovensLPG convertible /