Range cookers

The ul­ti­mate heart of the kitchen, the clas­sic range cooker is now avail­able with as many hi-tech fea­tures as style and colour op­tions

Period Living - - Contents -

We bring you the lat­est de­signs, tech­nolo­gies and styles avail­able

What kitchen ap­pli­ance could be more evoca­tive than a tra­di­tional range cooker, as heav­enly aro­mas of Sun­day roasts or home-made bread and cakes drift out of it? Built to last and of­fer­ing a time­less aes­thetic, a range is the per­fect cen­tre­piece for a pe­riod home, yet the lat­est mod­els also come packed with mod­ern tech­nol­ogy for en­hanced func­tion­al­ity, con­ve­nience and energy ef­fi­ciency.

Which type of cooker?

The clas­sic cast-iron range cooker was de­signed to be in use con­tin­u­ally, with the ovens and hot­plates set to a steady, gen­tle tem­per­a­ture, ready to cook, toast or boil on at all times. These ‘heat stor­age’ cookers give off a lot of warmth so also pro­vide space heat­ing for the kitchen, although in sum­mer most own­ers turn them off and switch over to a smaller elec­tric oven, to avoid over­heat­ing.

In re­cent years, how­ever, there has been a lot of in­no­va­tion in the range cooker sec­tor, and the lat­est heat stor­age de­signs of­fer far more con­trol. While these cast-iron ranges cook food in the same way as tra­di­tional mod­els, us­ing ra­di­ant heat from all sides, it is not nec­es­sary to have them per­ma­nently on. You can also op­er­ate each part of the cooker in­de­pen­dently, and heat-up times are much faster.

It is pos­si­ble to get the look of a heat stor­age cooker with one of the many cook­ing-only mod­els that op­er­ate in the same way as a con­ven­tional oven. Stain­less-steel, range-style cookers are an­other al­ter­na­tive, and of­fer a more mod­ern, pro­fes­sional look that works well in many pe­riod homes. ➤

Should I use it to heat my home?

Some range cookers are de­signed to be used as the pri­mary heat source in a house, op­er­at­ing the cen­tral heat­ing and hot wa­ter from a built-in back boiler. Esse and Ray­burn both of­fer mod­els that work in such a way, with the Ray­burn 600 se­ries ca­pa­ble of heat­ing up to 20 ra­di­a­tors. This is an op­tion worth con­sid­er­ing if you are off mains gas.

Which fuel is best?

If you are on mains gas, the most ob­vi­ous op­tion is a dual-fuel model, with an in­stant, highly con­trol­lable gas hob and elec­tric fan-as­sisted oven. But there is an op­tion for ev­ery pref­er­ence. Elec­tric cookers are in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar, and some can now mimic a tra­di­tional heat stor­age range and feel warm to the touch. In­creas­ingly avail­able are de­signs that in­clude in­duc­tion hobs. All-gas mod­els are also avail­able and are pop­u­lar with keen bak­ers as a gas oven fea­tures dif­fer­ent heat zones, al­low­ing you to cook sep­a­rate dishes at the same time.

If you are de­ter­mined to have gas but are off mains, you can choose a cooker that runs on LPG (liq­ue­fied pe­tro­leum gas). Al­ter­na­tive fuel op­tions in­clude oil, wood or solid fuel, which will re­quire a flue to re­move smoke and harm­ful gases.

Can I af­ford to buy one?

It is pos­si­ble to pur­chase an en­try-level cooker for £1,000, which will have stan­dard func­tion­al­ity and few pro­fes­sional-in­spired fea­tures, but of­fers clas­sic looks and re­li­able cook­ing. A high-end, mul­ti­func­tional model will cost sev­eral thou­sand pounds. Clas­sic cast-iron range cookers are ex­pen­sive, usu­ally cost­ing be­tween £5,000 and £10,000, but these are in­vest­ment pieces de­signed to last for years, and can be re­stored in the fu­ture.

Are they ex­pen­sive to run?

Many cook­ing-only mod­els won’t use much more energy than a stan­dard oven. Look at the ap­pli­ance’s energy rat­ing, from A to G, to get an in­di­ca­tion of how cost-ef­fec­tive it is to run. Newer hi-tech cookers are much more energy ef­fi­cient than older de­signs. Heat stor­age mod­els are more ex­pen­sive to run – in the re­gion of £12-20 per week – but can also pro­vide the heat­ing for your kitchen, elim­i­nat­ing the need for ra­di­a­tors in this space.

What size do I need?

There is a size of range cooker to fit ev­ery kitchen, from slim­line 60cm-wide de­signs for small spa­ces to lux­u­ri­ous 140cm-wide mod­els – although most are 100cm or 110cm wide. It is im­por­tant to com­pare the num­ber of ovens, and the sizes of the cav­i­ties them­selves, as this will make a big dif­fer­ence to over­all cook­ing ca­pac­ity.

Which fea­tures should I look for?

Many cookers have an im­pres­sive ar­ray of fea­tures, but think re­al­is­ti­cally about what you will use. A wok is great for cook­ing healthy stir-fries, while a grid­dle plate is a use­ful ex­tra that can be fit­ted on top of the hob for an oil-free cook­ing sur­face. Bread-warm­ing draw­ers are per­fect for keen bak­ers as they al­low you to prove dough per­fectly. Meat probes en­able you to check a roast is done, and ro­tis­serie op­tions are an in­dul­gent ex­tra if you like the idea of spit-roast­ing meat. On tra­di­tional heat stor­age mod­els, slum­ber mode is ideal for slow cook­ing, or to give a gen­tle heat into the kitchen. To keep on top of clean­ing the oven, look at py­rolytic de­signs that al­low the cav­ity to be heated to a very high tem­per­a­ture to burn off any food residue into a fine ash that can be wiped away.

Above: Vic­to­ria TR4110I four­cav­ity elec­tric range cooker in Pas­tel Green with in­duc­tion hob, from £2,639, SmegTop right: As­cot 120 dual-fuel three-oven multi-func­tion range cooker in Ametista, from £5,970, Steel Above right:Del­phi 100cm two-oven nine-func­tion dual-fuel range cooker in Gloss Red, £2,853, Bri­tan­nia Liv­ing

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