Bad timing -- Santa's going to have to bring a new stove
And I have no real idea where to start. Mine broke -- right before the holidays, right as I was about to pop in several trays of cookies. I may be able to have it repaired but time is precious right now given that Christmas is a few days away. Anyway, I'm wondering how to figure out what to buy if I need a new one. I use it a lot -- constantly. I know I want a bigger stovetop, but in terms of what specs to look for... Im lost. Can anyone help me out? What questions should I be asking? What's important to someone who cooks and bakes a lot? I was thinking convection, but I'm not even sure what the advantages are.
Oooh, I feel your pain. It sounds like you need a range (oven/ cooktop) is that right? The ideal would be a duel fuel; electric oven and gas cooktop. If gas isn't an option, go for a ceramic glass or induction cooktop (if cost is no object....) Convection is supposed to be great, but i have no experience w/ it. Sorry about your oven/ stove tragedy and happy 2009!
I know a lot of people think duel fuel is the bee's knees, but I just bought a new range and I got all gas - even though I bake a lot. The reason? I seriously dislike electric broilers and I use the broiler a lot too. The broiler in my new range kicks butt, and I have convection for more even baking. Continuous grates on the cooktop are a big plus.
Convection is a beautiful thing for bakers. 2-3 racks of cookies at a time? No problem. The air circulation helps them all come out evenly. You may need to play around with cooking times and temps for your favorite recipes, though, as convection ovens often work faster than regular ones.
I recommend browsing the Appliances forum at GardenWeb. I did a ton of research there when I was looking for a new stove several years ago. I really like DCS products but mine were made before Fisher and Paykel purchased them (different burner configuration). I have had both the 30" all gas model and the 30" dual fuel model and love them both. I think baking is more even in the electric oven.
There are so many options out there you're just going to have to get out and start looking. I know it's tempting to ask for advice here but unless you have some VERY specific details you want to discuss, you are going to get a response from everyone under the rainbow telling you how great their oven and range is. Already you've had some suggestions for what type of heat source you should look for, but these are all very personal decisions. Price, availability, unit size, discount sales, etc. can all have an impact on what you might purchase. I suggest you start looking at 3 or 4 different stores to see what's out there and what prices are like.
This is very true. You really need to see what's out there, decide on your price range, decide what features are the most important to you and narrow down your choices from there. I personally started my search for a new range almost two years ago when I realized that the range we had was on it's last legs. It was very frustrating for me because I have high end taste and a mid-range budget. And I didn't buy anything until I finally found a range that met all my dearest desires for the amount of money I could afford to spend. Took a while, but I love love love my new range.
One of the things I noticed right off was a fairly big difference in oven size between various ranges of the same external width (in my case, 30".) I crossed a lot of my "maybes" off the list just due to them having too small an oven. I also really wanted a second oven/warming drawer, continuous (non-enameled) grates, at least two reasonably high-powered burners and a stainless steel exterior. (All of my other appliances are white, but I will never ever buy another enameled cooktop, so help me God. I just find them murderous to keep clean, whereas I have no trouble at all with the stainless.)
Good luck with your search!
I'm getting ready to move into a new house and then shortly thereafter remodel the kitchen, so I feel your pain! It's confusing at first, but a lot of fun once you get going.
For a cooktop, gas is generally preferable to electric because the heating element responds immediately to changes and gets a pan hotter for good searing and stir-fries. However, you lose a lot of heat off the sides of the burner (not a bad thing up north, an absolute bane here in Phoenix). Electric is much easier to clean than gas and in my experience does a low simmer much better, but it doesn't change temperature as quickly and doesn't usually get as hot. You might also want to look into getting an induction cooktop; after weighing everything, it's the way I'm going. You get the responsiveness of a gas range, the easy cleaning of a flat cooktop, and it's far more energy efficient than gas or standard electric. The minuses are that you might have to get new cookware (stainless steel or cast iron with a flat bottom), and it's still very expensive. Kenmore has an induction cooktop stove (made by Electrolux) for $2700.
For your oven, it sounds like you want to go electric. The instant response of gas on the cooktop is its downfall in the oven; while the electric element maintains heat even when off, the gas is only on or off, and therefore temperatures fluctuate more in a gas oven than an electric. Convection is a good thing, especially if you enjoy baking. The fans keep hot air moving around the oven cavity, and even out any hot or cold spots that would be in a convection oven.
Or you could go the route I'm going: Drop-in cooktop and separate wall oven. Yeah, I'll have to remodel the whole kitchen, but it should be a fun project.