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This is the last appliance I have yet to review from our new kitchen which was fitted earlier this year. We considered many options with regards to the oven, including a traditional range cooker, but after much consideration (i.e. heated debates!), we decided that two of these ovens side by side in the wall units would be the most practical solution for us. I have to say, I was hesitant at first because I had my heart set on a more traditional option, but now we have these ovens, I have to agree that my husband was right (again).
The oven is a 60cm single electric fan oven, which is available in stainless steel, black, or white. We opted for the stainless steel version, and just to be greedy we decided to have two next to each other integrated into the wall units. This is purely because I am a keen baker and am often cooking and baking at the same time, and we like to entertain quite often, so oven space is a bit of an issue for us at times. We got these ovens for £240 each, which was still cheaper than some of the range ovens which can cost in excess of £1,000 and in my opinion don't offer the same space for cooking.
Before we started using our new ovens, I had a read through the user manual and got quite overwhelmed with the amount of information in there. It basically details the different functions, and gives a chart telling you what setting to use depending on the kind of thing you're cooking.
The oven comes with two trays, and a baking tray which they call the "universal pan". This is basically a sturdy baking tray which fits directly onto the shelf inserts at the side, so it acts like an extra shelf. The universal pan is referred to throughout the user manual, and it's worth familiarising yourself with the manual before using the oven, as there are certain things you're not supposed to do with the pan (see below!).
Some of the features of this oven which may be of interest to the potential buyer are:
Four cooking functions - including the 3D fan oven (our most used function) and a variable grill function
Automatic Programmer - in the same way you can programme your washing machine to start cooking, you can also programme this oven to start cooking at a certain time
LED display panel - with clock and timer
Child display lock - stops your child being able to fiddle with the controls, although I'm not sure how useful this would be as ovens such as this are designed to be placed high enough in your wall units to be out of reach of young children, but I guess it's extra peace of mind for parents
Enamel liners - the oven has enamel liners which are designed to reduce the amount of cleaning time required
I have to admit, I didn't get on too well with this oven when I first started using it. I found it difficult to get used to the speed with which it cooks everything, and as a result I kept burning things unless I stayed in the kitchen whilst they were cooking. In addition to this, I found the user manual overwhelming, and slightly confusing, and nearly set fire to the kitchen one night when grilling sausages with the tray in the wrong position. The lessons I learnt from all these mistakes were:
1 Don't worry too much about the user manual, as about 99% of the things you cook can be done using the same function. The extra functions are only there as options, so you don't have to trawl through pages of user manual before cooking anything
2 NEVER place the universal pan near the top of the oven when grilling, or you will burn your food to a crisp and risk flooding the kitchen with smoke or setting the kitchen on fire if you don't have an observant husband running to the rescue
3 It cooks food QUICKLY. So when you're following instructions, even if it gives an adjusted temperature for fan ovens, this oven will probably cook it quicker than the suggested time. It's worth setting the timer for ten minutes or so before the suggested time, and then check on it every few minutes to make sure it doesn't burn
==Now that I have got used to the oven, what do I think?==
I absolutely love this oven now I have got used to using it. I have more idea after a few months of use, of how quickly it will cook certain foods, and I tend to stick to the same settings so I know what I'm doing. The fan aspect is perfect for me as I do a lot of baking and so the fan ensures any cakes or biscuits are cooked evenly due to the heat being circulated round the oven. I used to find on my previous oven that if I was baking on two shelves, the cake on the top shelf would be burnt whilst the one on the bottom shelf looked anaemic. This isn't the case with our new oven, and makes baking a lot easier, and the results much more pleasing.
There is plenty of space to fit a decent amount of food in one of these ovens, which is useful for when you're producing lots of dishes at once, or you're cooking something separately for young children alongside your main meal. Admittedly, we do use the two ovens together at times, but this is only in extreme situations when I've offered to make 50 cupcakes for someone's party or something ridiculous like that. If I wasn't such a fan of baking and entertaining, one of these ovens would be fine for our needs as a two-person household.
The oven is very quick as I mentioned earlier. I have got used to it now, and always reduce the temperature on recipes and keep an eye on the contents of the oven to make sure nothing is burning. An internal light comes on during the cooking process so you can keep an eye on your food.
Cleaning the oven is very easy due to the enamel liners keeping grease at bay. This means you don't have to employ as much elbow grease to clean the oven. The glass doors are also removable meaning you can clean take the glass panel out to clean it thoroughly. Cleaning is made easier by the fact the oven is at wrist height, and I also find this useful for getting food in and out of the oven without having to bend down.
If anything, I think this oven tries to make life overly complicated, whereas in reality if you keep things simple it is very easy to use. We generally only use two of the functions, which are the 3D fan oven function, and the grill function. We've never needed to use the child lock as we don't yet have children, and to be honest I'd forgotten it had the automatic programming function! I think this would come in handy maybe on Christmas morning so you don't have to get up at silly o'clock to put the turkey in the oven, but other than that I don't really feel the need to get my oven cooking whilst I'm out of the house. I think this would make me very nervous, and so I would personally only use this function when I'm in the house. It would also be useful if you wanted to set the oven to start cooking when you're out but your husband is at home, as it wouldn't depend on him remembering to turn the oven on but at least he is there to keep an eye on it!
The timer on this oven is on the LED control panel, so is touch screen, and to set it to the right length of time you have to hold your finger down on it. I find it starts to increase more and more quickly so I have never managed to get it to stop on the time I want! I always end up backtracking to set it to the required time, but this isn't too big a grievance and at least it has a timer compared to my previous oven. The only other confusing aspect is that you have to set the function and the temperature separately, so you have to remember to turn both dials on and off together otherwise you'll think you're cooking when you're not, or worse still you'll be thinking you've turned the oven off when you haven't.
Overall, I would recommend this oven, but I would suggest not getting bogged down with all the extra features but instead enjoy it for what it is: an excellent built-in fan oven which cooks food evenly and quickly. Thankfully, the performance of this oven very much outweighs the little niggles I have highlighted, and I wouldn't swap my ovens now I'm used to them.
(Review may also appear on Ciao under the username Gingerkitty)
The sleek minimalist looks of this model will bring a touch of contemporary style to any kitchen / Plus it's A-rated for energy efficiency / The spacious 52L cooking cavity houses a single-fan oven that has four cooking modes / It also incorporates a combined grill suitable for closed-door fixed grilling / The oven has an interior light and the door has a large double-glazed viewing window so you'll be able to keep a good eye on whatever's cooking / The two shelves can be placed in four positions and the / Short name: Bosch HBN331E0B