Wolf Combi-Steam Oven Initial Review/Experience
I'm a big believer in paying back on good things. This message board really helped me make my appliance selections for my new kitchen. Thank you. Rather than join the conversations on products that get a lot of coverage, I thought I would pay back the community through some coverage of a product that it doesn't appear many people have used - the Wolf Combi-steam. Here goes and thanks to all for your help in my research.
WHy I wanted it.
- I love to bake bread. REally good bread is tough in a home oven. I've gotten good baking in a dutch oven but I wanted to make baggettes, rolls, and other breads that just aren't conducive to a dutch oven.
- I purchased a 36" range (bluestar) and while awesome it takes a long time to preheat and is often overkill for weeknight oven cooking
- I work long days so keeping food warm and/or reheating was attractive (I don't have nor want a microwave oven)
- Steamed dumplings in large quantities. Enough said there.
My experience after 1 week of lots of use
- First, bread. Amazing! I am handing out loaves to my neighbors right now as my wife says no more! It all just works. the steam mode for about 20 minutes and then convection for the remainder just works. Dead simple, really crusty, and I'm able to do 6 medium bagettes all at once.
- Second, as secondary oven. Preheat is amazing. Somewhere between 5-10 min to get to 450. So fast and easy to use.
- Third, chicken. Just tried this for fun (I usually do chicken on spit on my grill) and it was incredible. You have the ability to turn on/off the steam and it made a really nice juicy meat with the kind of crust you typically only get on the spit.
- Dumplings. I made 48 steamed dumplings for some friends (shrimp, pork/veg, and cabbage/mushroom) and they were better than any dim sum place I have ever been. I love dumplings and this was great. I could bang out a lot of prep, put in fridge and then quickly get a bunch ready at one time.
- Pastry. Surprisingly great. I used the humid setting which keeps a seal but injects no steam. Super great results but I can do same with a larger gas oven I think. a tie but no knock out here.
- Thai fish. My wife immediately said "you need to make this again!" after one bite of my thai red snapper.
- we purchased "semi-custom" cabinets from kraftmaid and there was no easy way for us to fit the steam oven into the cabinet. My GC was amazing but it wouldn't have worked well if he weren't a skilled carpenter.
- it is a lot of money. I purchased this instead of a second 30 inch oven but it was a tough sell to my wife. Felt I should state the obvious.
- for me, they have way too many programs. Navigating all of the options is overkill. It is steam! I can figure it out Wolf! I love the options of controlling the seal, steam, and convection oven but feel like a "Flan" program is a bit much. Easy to ignore but it kind of turned me off. I am a pretty serious home cook and this feels a bit like a beginner device and it really isn't.
Finally, I have no idea if this is better/worse than Gag/Miele/Thermador, etc. Gag was too much money and the plumbed line is nice but I feel like I can easily change the water tray every six cooking hours. The Gag does allow you to set humidity levels and I was concerned this would be an issue and so far it hasn't been at all and I feel i can approximate this through the on/off steam feature. I love the size of the oven and feel that this gives it an edge over miele/thermador but if I'm truthful I must say it isn't a significant edge.
Can I do most everything in some other way? Yes. Does the steam oven make it easier and quicker so I will do it more often? Yes. Would I buy it again? Absolutely. Should everyone buy one? I recommend it to anyone who uses the oven a lot for small jobs, likes to slow cook, and experiments with various cuisines - especially asian. And if you are a baker especially of bread it is a knockout device.
Hope that helps people and thanks again