New kitchen and Lacanche obsession

williakrJuly 21, 2014

Hi all,

We are remodeling our kitchen and are replacing everything except the microwave. I like to cook and have 2 smallish kids and work, so efficiency is key. I cook Christmas dinner for 30 people and have maybe 10 small (8 guests or fewer) dinner parties each year, so I'm usually not cooking for a crowd.

We are replacing a kitchen aid stainless counter depth fridge, a kenmore gas stove and a maytag dishwasher, all are at least 11 years old. I've been happy with the performance of all the appliances (especially the maytag, it's great!), and, with the exception of the range (I'm willing to spend more there), want something reliable that works well and isn't super expensive that I can panel. We have very hard water, so I think a dishwasher with a built in water softener would be worthwhile, I'm a scraper, not a rinser, and don't really care if it's not super quiet, but I do need an indicator light that tells us the dishes are clean. For the fridge, it needs to be 36" and counter depth, fit a gallon of milk on the door and have an internal water dispenser and an ice maker. Any thoughts, recommendations, rants or raves? We want something that will go the distance (of course!).

For the range, I have become obsessed with the Lacanche Cluny. I love the Classique top configuration and, of course, the look, and the roughly 40" size and price are right. I've done some soul searching about the small ovens (thanks all for your thoughts in other threads on these), I've visited the NYC outpost of Art Culinaire with a suitcase of cookware and played hide the roasting pan in the ovens, and salivated over those gorgeous knobs and enamels...but when I was told that the preheat time was about 20 minutes, I was crestfallen. The vast majority of meals that I cook are done (and need to be done) in 30 minutes or less. Is the preheat time really this long? I thought with the smaller ovens it would be quicker. Is the only option to get a wall oven in addition to the Lacanche? (I know others have done this, and I may succumb because my love for this range is not rational, but I'd rather save the space for cabinetry). Also, I make a lot of popovers and I think with the rack spacing I will only be able to do 1 batch/oven, which is going to create some unhappiness. Has anyone baked 2 or more pans of popovers in popover pans (deep wells, about 1 1/3 as deep as cupcake pans) in a Lacanche with smaller ovens? Did it impact rising?

Also, I found it nearly impossible to get my roasting pan out (it's large but not huge, and fit comfortably in the Cluny's ovens) without brushing the roof of the oven with my arm. Lacanche owners, what size roasting pan do you use? I was also disappointed with how the racks moved, they seemed really sticky, which was unfortunate because the Cluny's small ovens would be much more user friendly if the racks rolled freely.

I was excited for the Lacanche's over the burner griddle, but my enthusiasm evaporated when I lifted it to put it on the range. Does anyone own and actually use the griddle? If so, I hope you haven't sustained any injuries - it is HEAVY. And how do you know the oven has finished preheating? Do you use a thermometer or time it?

All this said, I can't get over my crush on the looks of the Lacanche. Is there another option any one is aware of at the same price point and 40" size? I've looked at the Ilve, but I prefer the equally sized ovens of the Cluny and the option of one gas, and one electric oven; that said, the Ilve is the best looking alternative I've found (I like it better than the Verona), and I would love to hear from anyone who's cooked on one or owned one. I thought the Aga Legacy was also good looking, but I think the oven sizes may present similar problems. I've started looking at vintage stoves, is anyone aware of models with a similar sensibility to the Lacanche? I'd consider a gas range top with similar looking controls and forego the beautiful enamel ovens if such a thing exists.

And I'd welcome everyone's thoughts for a reasonably priced and reliable electric wall oven in the event I cannot resist the Lacanche. If there's anyone who has had a bad experience with a Lacanche I would love to hear it.

Thanks for listening!

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We have a 39" range now from the 1950s and though I believe there are some other ranges out there in this size, none came in such a beautiful package as the Lacanche. We bought a Volnay (awaiting it's arrival) which is 39" also only it has the bigger 21" oven and a smaller warming cupboard. I have a 21" oven on my current range and love it - it's a perfect size for us. I don't have any trouble getting roasting pans in or out or bumping my hands/arms on the sides.

I was told the Volnay oven would warm up in 15 minutes (ambient air) and then the walls and all would continue to warm up after that. I actually think 15 to 20 minutes is pretty good. I was comparing it to an oven on a 36" range and I think they said the blue star was 30-35 minutes warm up time. That really turned me off. Comparatively 15 (or 20) sounds pretty good!

What do you cook on now? Have you tested exactly how long the oven takes to come up to temperature? What you currently work with could inform your perspective. It doesn't seem there are that many ovens that will heat up faster, especially ones that are full 30" ovens. It actually takes me at least 15 minutes to prep for any meal so waiting that long isn't really waiting. I'm only semi-informed but I think only speed ovens and steam ovens would heat up faster and that's in part because they are much smaller.

I've heard others complain about the racks but I guess I don't move racks so didn't notice during my test drive of the Lacanche. The griddle is reportedly very heavy. I'm just going to buy an off the shelf one that's lighter. I won't use a temperature gauge to know when the oven has come to temp - I'll just time it and then by feel/time over time. I think the light does go off and then starts to circulate after that so you should now the oven is ready.

BTW, I researched the Ilve and the depth of the oven is really shallow if I recall so I'd be sure to look at the interior dimensions. IMHO the craftsmanship of the Lancanche was better than the Aga ranges. If you really want super speedy oven heat up times I'd look at pairing a Lacanche with a speed oven. Some of the Lancanche have 21" ovens (e.g. Volnay) which might work better for you based on your comments than the smaller ovens on the Cluny. I think some people just learn how to navigate the smaller ovens with time and are very happy with them.

Some have looked at vintage O'Keefe and Merritt ranges. The range top does not have as many BTUs as the Lacanche, if that matters. But the OM ranges are lovely to look at.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 5:20PM
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Hi ChristyMcK,

Nice to meet you - I've enjoyed your other Lacanche posts, and thanks for weighing in. My current Kenmore gas oven heats to 350 in about 11 minutes, I had no idea that it was so quick (probably because I'm always in a hurry, lol). It's 30'' and I very rarely use all the capacity, so I thought the Cluny's smaller ovens would be better for everyday meals.

The Volnay is a great choice! What color are you getting? Gas or electric? Did you get to try out the broiler? I have to confess, I will miss the cool blue flames of my current broiler, electric just doesn't seem the same.

The rep I spoke with said the Lacanche was usually finished preheating after it had done two heating cycles - so wait to see the red light click on and off twice and then put the food in.

Thanks for the insights on Ilve - if the ovens are shallow, that's definitely a deal breaker. And I would be beside myself waiting for the BlueStar, that's out of the question.

Keep me posted on the delivery of your bebe!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 11:39AM
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Our french blue Volnay will have electric ovens because I wanted the broiler - the gas oven doesn't have a broiler for some strange reason. I didn't try out the broiler. I don't actually use a broiler that often - just for pizza which we make mostly in the winter. It does go to 700F which will be nice for pizza making!

My guess is that the Lacanche take longer to heat up because they are more solid than a GE but who knows?! You could test the Lacanche heat up time using your method at home in the GE and the Lacanche to do a side by side. Methods definitely vary and so if you did it in both you'd get an accurate side by side comparison.

We are pairing the Volnay with a Gaggenau steam oven which I think heats up in about 5 minutes because it's relatively small I think. I didn't chose it for it's quick heat up time, though I'm sure that'll be nice, especially for left overs.

I do think there is no perfect range and everyone's choice is a tradeoff of power, cost, beauty, function, etc. Looking and testing out other ranges in person is very informative so keep doing what your doing and I'm sure you'll choice will become clear.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 1:58PM
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Heart and head are a funny, sometimes at odds, combination when investing in appliances. What seems monumentally important in the moment is sometimes much less important later.

We have owned a burgundy Cluny for 10 years. It all came down to it or the Wolf for us, but the enamel beauty seduced us and I love all things French. Our son has a Wolf and we have also enjoyed using it, especially appreciating the lower simmer ring.

We are frequent users of the Lacanche heavy grill plate, in preference to our outdoor grill. We used to use the griddle a lot, but now more often use a smaller, lighter griddle. We have the Classique cooktop and did not try the traditional plate until a few months ago, in search of controlling the lower simmer range. Now we keep it over the smaller burners all the time and are happier with results.

Ovens, one gas and one electric, have always been happy with. Would prefer a better rolling mechanism for rack, but since they are smaller in scale compared to American ranges, this is not a significant inconvenience.

We roast lots of meats and veggies, bake lots of cookies, only prepared popovers once and not in volume.

There are lots of good choices for your kitchen, just comes down to personal preferences. I would not get hung up on small details. Too often we see good performance and reliability are not tied to cost. We have found our range to be simple, highly reliable and with its own quirky personality, like a family pet.

The oven heating time is something you just adjust your schedule to and remember to build in the time. I am always multitasking while cooking, so it is usually ready before I am ready to place food in it. Biggest adjustment for me was remembering that the convection oven cooks more quickly so that I learned to stop burning the brownies.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 2:41PM
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