“ Brand: Zanussi / Range Type: Free-Standing / Fuel Type: Dual Fuel (Electric and Gas) / Element Type: Burner / No. of Cooking Elements: 4 Elements / Oven Amount: Double / Exterior Finishes: Stainless Steel / Self Cleaning: With Self Cleaning / Capacity: 1.7 cu. ft. / Secondary Oven Capacity: 0.92 cu. ft. / Convection Type: With Convection / Convection Type Secondary Oven: With Convection / Oven Functionality: Bake / Oven Functionality: Roast / Oven Functionality: Grill / Additional Features: Oven Door Window „
* Prices may differ from that shown
Being a first-time buyer is an expensive business. No sooner have you spent thousands on your deposit, surveys, solicitor's fees, building insurance and removal vans (not to mention signing over the next 25 years of your life to whichever bank deigned to grant you a mortgage), you find you need to start filling your new abode with stuff. While as tenants we had already acquired the most important things we needed in life (bookcases, TV, toaster, wine rack, corkscrew and backup corkscrew), it occurred to us that the means to cook our own food would probably be a nice addition to our rather bare kitchen. In short, man may be able to live off toast alone, but woman certainly cannot. Cue a lot of trips to electrical stores last autumn to find something that would do the job without bankrupting us.
Our requirements for a cooker were as follows:
1) A width of 60cm to fit in the space between built-in units in our kitchen
2) We had both fuel access points which gave us more model options, but for reasons of personal preference we wanted a duel fuel cooker if possible
3) We wanted a cooker with a double oven
4) We needed a cooker that was available for delivery as soon as possible after we moved in
5) We preferred a cooker with a good level of energy efficiency
6) Our budget limit was £450
Armed with these requirements and some research into reliable brands, we found that our range of options was surprisingly limited. Realistically, there were three models from the stores we visited that fitted the bill, and we ended up with the snappily-named Zanussi ZKM6040XN over the others on the grounds that it had the best energy efficiency (A) and as a bonus was available in a good-looking stainless steel variety (which would therefore match the toaster and one of the two corkscrews). We bought it from Currys as it was on special offer for £420 (prices currently seem to range between £450 and £500) and they would deliver and fit it for us at a convenient time (as it has a gas hob, you need a gas fitter to do this work - therefore having a "plus fitting" package reduces a lot of the hassle). I recall the installation being a brief and painless task, although removing the promotional stickers from the front of the cooker ("buy an extended warranty!!!") proved much harder.
The main oven is an electric fan oven with two shelves. In my experience it heats up very quickly and cooks food very evenly, two major plus points. I have noticed this in particular when baking cakes, as they have come out of the oven with a more even finish than I have managed with any other oven I have used. In fact I have no complaints about how well this oven cooks, and have been very pleased with how easy it is to use, and more importantly, to use well.
In fact, all went perfectly for the first nine months of use. Then, in July, the electric oven tripped the circuit breaker in our house and refused to come back on again once I restored the power. Fortunately, this cooker comes with a one year guarantee which boasts a 24-hour UK helpline for repairs. Well, sort of. This incident happened at 6pm on a Friday, and calling the 24-hour helpline actually just resulted in the guy at the other end confirming we could get a repairman out under our warranty - but we would have to call a different number (naturally open office hours only) to actually book the repair. It took two weeks before we could find a date when I could be at home and they could get a local engineer around to us, but he turned up on time and was very courteous. He also managed to get our oven to come back to life, although he worryingly noted that he couldn't find what caused the problem in the first place and it may be an "intermittent issue". This probably means it will break again just after our warranty has expired, so we are currently considering the two year extension deal to our warranty at a cost of £54.80.
**Top oven and Grill**
While having the separate top oven certainly has its uses, it is easily the weakest part of the cooker as a whole. The oven is a small, conventional type, but even by the standards of the many non-fan ovens I have used in the past, it is very slow to heat up and to cook, and so you have to be very careful when you are timing something to come out of it to coincide with something cooked elsewhere. During our recent loss of the main cooker, I attempted to cook a frozen pizza in it. The pack said it would take 12-14 minutes to cook; the fan oven would have had it ready to eat in 10, but the top oven was still labouring away after 25 minutes with the mozzarella stubbornly unmelted. I finished it off under the grill, which just about worked, but the result was hardly satisfactory. The top oven has therefore become a cooker of last resort - I will only attempt to cook something in it if the main cooker, microwave and Foreman grill are all unavailable as options to me.
The grill for that matter doesn't fare much better. The grill pan provided with the cooker has to be one of the silliest things I have even seen. The plastic handle for the pan is detachable for easy storage, which seems like a good idea until you read the warnings not to leave the handle near a heat source. In essence, you are expected by Zanussi to fit the handle to lift the grill pan up and place it under the grill, and then take it off again. When you want to pull the pan out to see how well your food is cooking, that means putting the handle on to pull the pan out, then a moment later taking it off again after you replace the pan. And the handle fits *really* stiffly into the pan. When I first attempted to use the pan the way the manufacturer recommended, I ended up burning my cheese on toast because it took me so long to try and re-fit the handle to remove the pan from under the gill. The answer, I have found, is to bury the handle in the depths of the nearest available kitchen drawer, buy a strong pair of oven gloves and use those to wield the grill pan instead. Or if you don't feel you should use something just because you paid a lot of money for it, throw the whole thing away and buy a new and more sensibly designed grill pan to replace it with instead.
As for the grill itself, I find you have to be quite careful with it as it is difficult to control to level of heat it creates and it tends to cook unevenly. If you are using the full grill area, I find I need to turn the grill pan around mid-cook (making it even harder to get out) or I end up with food that is overdone at the back and barely cooked at the front. Hardly ideal.
The hob has four gas burners of varying size, controlled by big, friendly dials and a reliable sparking button to light them. They are easy to use and to control the heat level - it is a shame the same principal wasn't applied to the grill, really. There is also a safety cut-off feature that will automatically shut off the gas when you lower the lid, which is a nice touch. The lid stays securely up when the hob is in use, and usefully gives another worktop surface when it is down, which can prove useful if you have a small kitchen as we do. No complaints here.
I have mixed thoughts about my first ever cooker purchase. Certainly it looks very good, and both the hob and main oven are easy to use and work well, but the top oven and grill are frankly poor for the price. As for the grill pan, well, that deserves to be thrown at whoever it was at Zanussi who designed it. My experiences also mean that I can say that Zanussi do honour their manufacturer's warranty, although I wish this was something I was blissfully ignorant about - I am currently quite worried about the "intermittent" fault coming back again. I would struggle to recommend this product really, and I hope the next time I need to buy a cooker that the range of duel fuel products will be greater and a bit better designed.
Sorry Zanussi, not recommended.
Short name: Zanussi ZKM6040XN