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Bravo Breville--The Perfectly Even Oven!

Feb 4, 2012 | From the kitchen of Rose

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Can it be--an oven that is perfectly even?! Over the years I have baked in many an oven. I even drove several hours deep into Connecticut, with cream puff pastry ready to pipe, to try out a Gaggenau oven that promised to be perfectly even. It was from top to bottom but not from front to back. Resigned to this disappointing fact that ovens are just not perfectly even, I have written solutions into recipes, such as turning a cake two-thirds of the way through baking, or bread half way through baking, but when it comes to cream puff pastry or sponge type cakes such as génoise, opening the oven door to move the pan would spell disaster as the baked item would deflate like a balloon stuck with a pin.

A few years ago I happened to speak to someone at the Breville company about another one of their appliances and the representative told me about their Smart Oven saying it was "an oven with a brain," and that I had to try it. I was intrigued and then disappointed when it never arrived. Many months later I met Julia Leisinger, the delightful manager of Sur La Tabla Soho store, and noticing that they sell the oven, asked her what she thought of it. She told me that she has one and that not only is it even, its size makes it ideal for small apartments. Julia is a baker so now I was really determined to try the oven so that I could know whether I could recommend it.

A year passed and to my surprise and delight I heard from Julia that she had met with the Breville people and reminded them of their promise to me. Shortly after the oven arrived and then, I must confess, sat reproachfully on my dining room table for months while I waited for my schedule to clear to approach this promising new appliance.

FInally I bit the bullet and gave it my standard acid test: I piped a spiral of cream puff pastry on parchment set on the 15-inch pan that comes with the oven, placed the rack at the bottom position as recommended in the booklet, and set the oven on bake, convection, but using 425˚F/220˚F for the first 10 minutes of baking instead of lowering the temperature the usual 25 degrees for convection baking. Then I lowered the temperature to the usual 350˚F/175˚C and continued to bake for the usual 15 minutes. As you can see from the photo, the proof is in the puff--it was perfectly, effortless, evenly golden brown.

Next I piped little 1-1/2 inch cream puffs. They blossomed from 3/4 inch high to 1-1/2 inches and again were perfectly evenly golden-brown.

This is a beautifully designed little oven that does just about everything except microwave. I moved it into permanent position in my apartment. How many ovens do I have? Four are in NY and 2-1/2 in Hope, NJ. (The half is the GE toaster oven I've had for 44 years and still performs perfectly for toast, baked potato, and other small items, taking up minimal space on the counter.)

As a cookbook author, it is important to test recipes in different types of ovens as the oven is the common denominator of success or failure in baking.

Here is my recipe for cream puff pastry which can be filled with whipped cream, or ice cream (profiteroles) or a savory filling. And as promised, this is the first in a series of monthly postings featuring Safest Choice Pasteurized Eggs.

Cream Puff Pastry (Pâte à Choux)

Makes: about 24 Cream Puffs

Preheat oven to 425°F/220°C
Bake 25  to 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

MEASURE

WEIGHT

volume

ounces

grams

bleached all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (lightly spooned into the cup) plus 1-1/2 tablespoons

2.5 ounces

71 grams

water

1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces)

4.2 ounces

118 grams

unsalted butter

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick)

2 ounces

57 grams

sugar

1/2 teaspoon

.

.

2-1/2 large eggs, lightly beaten (preferably Safest Choice Pasteurized)

1/2 cup/(4 fluid ounces)

4.4 ounces

125 grams

Make the Cream Puff Pastry Sift the flour onto a piece of parchment.
In a medium saucepan, combine the water, butter, sugar, and salt and bring it to a full rolling boil. Immediately remove the saucepan from the heat and add the flour all at once. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a ball, leaves the sides of the pan, and clings slightly to the spoon. Return the pan to low heat and cook, stirring and mashing continuously, for about 3 minutes to cook the flour.

Food Processor Method Without scraping the pan, transfer the mixture to the bowl of a good processor. With the feed tube open to allow steam to escape, process for 15 seconds. With the motor running pour in the eggs all at once and continue processing for 30 seconds.

Hand Method Without scraping the pan, empty the mixture into a bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating vigorously with a wood spoon after each addition.

For Both Methods The mixture will be smooth and shiny and it should be too soft to hold peaks when lifted with a spoon. If it is too stiff, add a little extra water. (The dough can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated overnight up to 2 days.) Beat the mixture lightly with a wooden spoon before piping.

Shape the Puffs Dab a small dot of the dough in each corner of the cookie sheet under the parchment and press it lightly to make it adhere.

Scrape the cream puff mixture into the pastry bag. Pipe puffs about 1-1/2 inch in diameter and 1/2 to 3/4 inch high, about 1 inch apart. (Alternatively use a teaspoon, lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray to scoop out the dough. With a fingertip push the dough off the spoon and onto the cookie sheet.) Dip a fingertip into water and smooth the top.

Bake the Puffs Spritz or brush the puffs lightly with water. Bake for 10 minutes. To prevent the puffs from collapsing do not open the oven door. Lower the heat to 350˚F/175˚C and continue baking for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Turn off the oven. Remove the puffs to a rack and return them to the oven. Use a wooden spoon covered with foil to prop open the oven door and allow the puffs to dry for 10 minutes. Close the oven door and leave the puffs in the oven for 1-1/2 hours to dry out completely (or continue baking at 200˚F/90˚C for 45 minutes). Test a puff by cutting it in half horizontally. The dough inside should not be soft to the touch. If it is still soft, allow the to dry for a little longer.

Allow the puffs to cool completely on the rack and then store them in a plastic bag or airtight container until ready to fill.

Store: Room temperature, 1 day; refrigerated, 1 week; frozen, 6 months.


Comments

Hi Mary,
We recommend making cakes and cheesecakes in pans up to 10 inches in diameter and 2 inches high. This will allow for the necessary space between the pan and the oven's walls and ceiling.
For cake baking in all ovens, Rose recommends lighter colored, non-sloping aluminum pans by Chicago Metallic, Fat Daddio's, and USA Pans.
We have not tested tube or two-piece "angel food" pans in this oven.
Rose & Woody

REPLY

I received the oven for Christmas, and first off made cherry pie(with my baking skills that was taking a big chance), and it turned out perfect!

Now, for a cake, what size(diameter and height should pan be, and what material? There are no instructions in the recipe book, and have visions of my kitchen going up in smoke.
Many thanks.

REPLY

Christine, i have the smallest of the breville's and i love it so much too!!!!!!!!!! it is so even, all my 9" and smaller cakes are baked in it. even cheesecakes and custards bake so amazingly even. and takes only 10 minutes to preheat, and indeed works fine without the usual half hour for bigger ovens. i have baked bread too and just fine.

REPLY

Christine Czarnecki
Christine Czarnecki
08/ 2/2012 01:15 PM

I purchased this marvelous oven a few months ago, and it is everything I have ever wanted in a small oven. And, of course, it makes lovely toast.

The reason I had been searching for a small oven like this is that my kitchen has a fantastic six burner gas Viking range, with a plus-sized oven to match, but this is my only oven. Well, it's perfect when the weather is cold outside, as it heats up the kitchen along with baking beautifully, but in the summer, at the time when all my fruit trees are bearing and the pie-baking urge is strong, I don't want to heat up my kitchen.

So I take the Breville outside, put it in the shade, and plug it in. I bake to my heart's content, and my house stays cool.

I have used it to bake 9 inch pies, 8 and 9 inch cakes, quiches, roast vegetables, chickens and everything else that strikes my fancy to make.

If it is too hot outside, perhaps you could put the oven into the garage (on the tool bench?) to keep your house cool.

In any regard, it works wonderfully for us!

REPLY

rose Levy Beranbaum
rose Levy Beranbaum in reply to comment from Rod
03/ 6/2012 07:56 AM

no rod, la cloche will not fit.

REPLY

Hi Rose,

Does the oven fit the La Cloche?

Rod

REPLY

Beverly Callahan
Beverly Callahan
02/27/2012 10:59 PM

This is something I've been considering buying for sometime, but I wasn't sure whether it would measure up to it's hefty price tag. I've read a lot of reviews on multiple sites & it seems that folks either love it or it turns out to have some big and, in some cases, dangerous flaws. I'd love to hear how it performs for you over time.

REPLY

rose Levy Beranbaum
rose Levy Beranbaum in reply to comment from FW Miller
02/21/2012 02:57 PM

fw, the only think i've found to be affected greatly by humidity is sugar based items such as meringue or caramel but not cream puffs.

REPLY

For cream puffs, my Mom has always said not to make them when it rains; they they will never rise as high as on a non-rainy day. Is this true? Or, is there another method to compensate for the moisture/air pressure?

I've followed your recipe many times, with additional dry out method in the oven. Love it, they don't get soggy.

Many thanks for you & your team's great work.

REPLY

@ Patrick. I received the smaller 650XL a year ago (it is not convection) as the 800XL was too large. Roasting veggies, baking casseroles, broiling (mostly breads or fish) yield consistent results. Excellent for preparing meals for 1-2 people. Still use pop-up toaster for breakfast. Use the Breville nearly daily. Temperature reading is consistent.

The 800XL was my preference and so cakes and cookies are generally still baked in the standard oven.

REPLY

rose Levy Beranbaum
rose Levy Beranbaum
02/ 5/2012 10:35 PM

patty and julie, it is the larger model with the 13" round pan.

REPLY

rose Levy Beranbaum
rose Levy Beranbaum in reply to comment from Patrick
02/ 5/2012 10:34 PM

yes patrick, it's the 800XL i tested.

REPLY

rose Levy Beranbaum
rose Levy Beranbaum in reply to comment from Rosary
02/ 5/2012 10:12 PM

yes rosary, it toasts beautifully but only room for one regular cake pan.

REPLY

Is this a toaster oven? Can it handle two regular cake pans?

REPLY

My eyes were playing tricks on me when I saw your post. At first I thought, cool, she's posted her recipe for Gâteau St Honoré and then I realized the pâte sablée base was parchment! Silly me... You're so right about choosing a good oven, especially for baking. It can make the difference between "just fine" and "perfection."

REPLY

This oven has been on my wish list for some time! Glad to know you gave it high marks!

REPLY

I've been very interested in this oven ever since Cooks' magazine reviewed it. I'm guessing you tested the larger BOV800XL model? That's the one Cooks' did as well. I've been curious if the smaller BOV650XL oven is as magical, as it would fit my kitchen better.

REPLY

Hi Rose,
I would be very interested in the model number of the one you tried. I have been looking for a while for an oven that would evenly bake cakes etc.

Thanks for your advice.

REPLY

Rose, an oven that bakes evenly is such good news! I've been contemplating a countertop oven for a while now, your recommendation is so helpful.

Did you test the model with the 12x12 interior pan, or one of the smaller models (compact, mini)?

REPLY

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