Do I NEED convection?

heidiaOctober 5, 2012

Care to talk me in or out of it?

Here is the thing...debating between a wolf dual fuel and all gas, the all gas is cheaper AND has larger oven capacity, which to me is HUGE.

I cook...everything. Yes, I bake(bread, pastries, cookies), and I have gotten by just fine with no convection all these years. I am curious about it, especially since I always use the center racks and be able to use multiple sheets and no rotation seems pretty groundbreaking...but...not sure how often I will actually do that...

Thoughts on this? Is it really worth the capacity sacrifice and cost? Has it changed your cooking for the better(much better)?

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Oh, and I was under the impression there was more of a size diff between the dual fuel v. all gas(I swear I saw those specs somewhere and there was atleast 1 cu ft diff, did it used to be so?) but they are 5.4 v. 5.5 so not really a big diff now? So...just debating the pricing here I guess.

Dual fuel or all gas?

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 9:44AM
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Are you looking at a used all-gas or a new one?

AFAIK, the current all gas Wolf ranges convection. Here's a link for the specs sheet on the 30-inch AG model. (Look at a picture of the stove. You will see rocker switches on the far left and far right of the knobs. One is for the oven light, the other is for the convection fan.)

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 12:12PM
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JMVideo-you are right...I meant electric convection v. gas convection. :) Should have made that clear. sorry!

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 12:18PM
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So, I'm guessing that your question actually is whether you need/want the third element convection heating with electric versus the plain fan you get with gas?

Anybody out there who has used both kinds of Wolf ovens?

I can only comment generically. I had a GE dual-fuel stove up until a month ago. It had three element convection in the oven. It did a very good job of roasting meats, baking three sheets of cookies, etc. It did a pretty good job with bread and I liked to use the convection-roast function (convection fan with the broiler element running at a set-temperature). I was good with bread. (I have been baking bread once or twice a week for long time.) When the GE died, I got an NXR all-gas stove which is similar to the Wolf AG range except that the oven is not quite as big.

So far, I've been impressed with the oven. With the convection fan running, I've found the heat in my NXR's oven was pretty even all around the oven (+/- 8 F in an empty oven a bit more variation with baking sheets in use. I'm still figuring this part out.)

I have held the old-school opinion that electric ovens heat more quickly and have more even temps, but I suspect that view is no longer entirely accurate. It seems to depend on the stove. I would guess that it may be true with the Wolf stoves as well. I note that CR rated the Wolf DF as having "very good" performance for baking and broiling but the gas as having "good" performance. Because CR only gives summary results in a graphical button, it is hard to tell how much the actual difference was. The Wolf AG might have rated at the top of the "good" category and just not not quite high enough to reach the "very-good" category. Or, the Wolf DF oven might have been near the top of the "very good category" and the AG down near the bottom of the "good" category.

In my own case, I've found that the NXR convection has been better than the 3-element GE DF for baking bread and also excellent for eggplant parmaggiano. By better for the bread, I mean I baked multiple loaves of a sourdough recipe, with some steam, and got a very thin, shatteringly crisp crust with the soft, stranded interior crumb. That was my first try with NXR. That was better than a decade of futzing with heat settings and steam with the 3-element GE oven.

With my first try with baking southern-style biscuits in the NXR, they came out okay. About as good as I got from the GE, except that I think I did not have the NXR oven hot enough. I'll be trying this weekend with a hotter oven and think I will get a higher rise. (I've baked this recipe in restaurant ovens and got a higher rise with the hotter oven.) With the GE DF I usually had to finish/brown the tops with the convection roast function The convection fan on the NXR will not run when the upper element is being used, but I still got excellent browning of the tops.

The eggplant parmesan came out as good as it ever did with the convection in the GE DF, meaning that the cheese topping was melted, lightly browned and crisp while the sauce over the eggplant was still quite moist. So, no difference from the electric oven there.

Haven't tried multi-sheet cookie baking yet nor roasting chickens. I suspect that multiple trays of delicate cookies, like sugar cookies, might cook more evenly with a third-element electric convection oven, but we'll have to see on that one.

One thing about electric ovens is that the electric ovens do a better job at self-cleaning than gas ovens. The NXR and, AFAIK, the Wolf AG ranges do not have self-cleaning ovens at all. CR's testing of the Wolf DF's self-cleaning function produced only a "fair" rating. Less expensive stoves got much higher ratings, so it may be the case that the self-cleaning in the Wolf DF is not going to be part of what would justify the price-premium for you. Again, however, I have no direct experience with cleaning the Wolf DF.

One last point if you look at the CR ratings and see that CR rates the Wolf stovetop as middlin' for high heat jobs. The test is raising 6 liters of water in a pot to a near boil. From my own experiments, I suspect that CR is using a pot that is too small for the Wolf burners. My NXR has the same 15k btu-hr Isphording burners that are used on the Wolf. I found that 6 liters of water in my regular 12 qt. stock-pots took about 22 to 24 minutes to boil starting with cold tap water. Those stock pots are about a foot tall and 8 inches in diameter. When I used a pot that was 10 inches in diameter, the time dropped to under 15 minutes. When I used my largest stock-pot, which is 13 inches in diameter, the time to boil dropped below 14.5 minutes. The lesson here is that high-heat applications on these burners benefit from using larger diameter pots.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 4:12PM
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I have cooked for 40+ years on a conventional oven both gas and electric and have gotten along fine too. When we remodeled our kitchen, I decided to go with a Wolf DF. I also have an Electrolux wall oven and have used two different GE convection ovens in the last year.
Although both the AG and DF ovens have convection, the features are very different. If you can I would try to visit a place where they have Wolf ranges live. The dealer may be able to assist you with this. Take your pans and see how they fit.

Convection has the following benefits.

It keeps the air temperature more even. Also keep in mind that the walls of the oven also have a role in this by radiant heat. The third element becomes more significant when the oven is very full.

It increases the rate of heat transfer to what is cooking which may decrease the cooking time.

It is drying which aids in making things crispy.

The DF has dual fans and elements. It also has various modes, with and without convection,-baking bringing heat from the bottom, which is great for pies and quiches and roasting which brings more heat from the top to increase browning. The DF also has an all convection mode that is beneficial when the oven is full. I use these features as tools when I feel they benefit what I am cooking. If I am baking a cake or something I want to rise, I use standard bake. The drying effect can inhibit the rise and the fast heat transfer can bake the sides faster than the middle. If I am roasting a chicken, I use convection roast.

It is difficult to compare features such as third element convection from brand to brand as I have found them to work in completely different ways. The GEs both had the fans go off and on during use of the convection modes. The Elux uses the 3rd element in the convection roast and bake modes but does not have a dedicated convection mode. The Wolf DF has a 3rd and 4th element with fans and has an all convection mode.

These features may also mean more if you are getting a 36 inch vs a 30 inch range.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 9:49PM
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JWVidoe and Wekick-thank you for all that info! Very helpful, I really appreciate it...with how and what I cook, I am leaning towards all gas, but...still debating...

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 12:50PM
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Heidia, I think the DF comes with a full extension rack, but the AG does not. Also, the burners on the AG are semi sealed, and you get individual grates for each burner. The DF has a grate for every two burners, and has sealed burners - though sometime soon, possible 2013, the burners for the AG will be sealed, and the grates will look like the DF. I have read that the DF oven is fantastic, and the AG is very good, for whatever that is worth. I am not a big fan of electronics, and the DF seems to have that in abundance, the AG less so. You might want to search youtube, there are a few helpful videos on the DF, and a few videos showing the difference in style between the AG and DF.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 9:30PM
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