All about High Speed Ovens
WHAT IS A HIGH SPEED OVEN?
A high speed oven (often called an accelerated cooking machine or a rapid cook oven) is a powerful, professional, compact catering appliance which combines multiple cooking methods to cook much faster than traditional convection ovens or grills.
Ideal for quick service sites, these ensure you get the finish you want at ultra fast speeds, without compromising taste or texture.
HIGH SPEED OVEN TYPES
Most High Speed ovens combine multiple cooking methods:
microwave cooking is very fast and efficient, so almost every rapid cook oven features this technology. Generally, the majority of the cooking cycle is done via microwave which helps to cook food quickly and safely. In high speed ovens the microwave energy is usually “stirred”, meaning it’s evenly distributed throughout the cavity, so there’s no chance of cold spots in the food.
anyone who’s ever eaten a microwaved pizza would tell you that microwaving alone doesn’t always achieve the perfect finish. By adding convection cooking, a high speed oven ensures crispy bases and browned toppings which are impossible with microwaving alone. It’s worth noting that convection cooking means a high speed oven requires preheating before use.
one of the latest additions to rapid cooking technology, impingement (or forced air cooking) drastically reduces cooking times. Jets of superheated air are fired directly down onto the product, speeding up the cooking and giving an attractive just-grilled look. Typically, impingement is used for melting or browning toppings on lasagne, pizza and other similar dishes.
some of the most advanced high speed ovens include infra-red or radiant cooking. As some delicate dishes might not be suitable for high-heat impingement, infra-red is a much gentler way of browning and crisping food. Particularly useful for delicate desserts or fish.
although a relatively new addition to the rapid cooking family, high speed grills are growing in popularity as they are capable of adding attractive branding lines to food, as well as cooking lightning fast. This makes rapid cook grills perfect if you’re cooking food such as steaks, burritos or toasted sandwiches.
HOW MUCH FASTER IS A HIGH SPEED OVEN?
High speed ovens can cook anywhere between 5 and 20 times faster than conventional methods. However, not all ovens are equal – it depends on which cooking options the oven has. In general, models with microwave and convection are roughly 5-8 times faster than conventional cooking, whereas models with microwave, convection and impingement can be 15-20 times faster.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR?
It’s not all about the oven type. Once you’ve decided on a cooking style, there are other features which can make a big difference in your day-to-day service.
Power: generally, the more powerful a high speed oven is, the faster it’s going to cook. Each cooking category (i.e. microwave/convection) will have a different rating, so take care to choose a model which suits your menu and customer demand. Power ratings usually range between 1-3kW for each category.
Capacity: if you’re only cooking smaller items in the oven, a compact small capacity option could be preferable to save space. Likewise, a large oven gives you the flexibility to batch cook food or offer wider pizzas. As most high speed ovens are countertop, make sure to measure your counter space before purchase.
It’s also worth noting that some high speed ovens are specifically designed for a particular dish. For example, the Pronto, has a wide door like a traditional pizza oven, but it’s actually a powerful high speed oven which can cook a 12” pizza in 90 seconds.
Hardwired/Plug in: as rapid cook ovens are designed for cooking at speed, they can often take quite a lot of power to operate. Even when not cooking, energy is still used in readiness for the next dish. The more powerful the unit is, the more likely it’ll need hardwiring into a mains electricity connection. In addition, if it needs hardwiring, you may need a specialist catering equipment electrician to install the unit. Look for the power type to make sure the unit is suitable.
Venting: as with all cooking, it’s easy for food grease and smoke to build up quickly in a rapid cook oven. However, many models come with a built-in catalytic converter, so you can position the unit without having to worry about overhead extraction. This functionality is usually called vent free. Units without this technology will require the usual overhead extraction canopy.
Door: often forgotten, the door can make a big difference during a service. Many rapid cook ovens have drop-down doors, so you can quickly and easily access the interior. Others might have side opening doors, which could be preferable if the unit is stacked, or positioned at eye level.
Controls/Programming: almost every accelerated cooking machine can be programmed. Whether it’s via USB stick, Wi-Fi or simple push-button control panel, you can adjust cooking cycles to achieve great results. Even the most basic entry-level models give you the precision you need. One of the great benefits of cooking by program is that it’s really easy to learn and significantly reduces staff training times.
Especially for businesses with multiple sites will really benefit from this functionality. Food can be cooked consistently on every site and it’s incredibly fast to upload the latest additions to your menu.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What can you cook in a high speed oven?
Pretty much anything that you can cook in a regular oven can be cooked in a high speed oven. Even delicate dishes such as fish and soufflé can be cooked to perfection with a bit of practise.
What can’t you cook in a high speed oven?
it’s only really the size that restricts rapid cook ovens. Even the largest versions might not be able to fit a full festive turkey in, so you might be better off using a combination oven or oven range for dishes of that size.
Can high speed ovens cook food from frozen?
Absolutely. A conventional oven would usually take around 12-15 minutes to cook a frozen pizza, whereas a rapid cook oven with impingement could cook it in around a minute.
Do high speed ovens get hot on the outside?
Most high speed ovens are designed for efficiency, so thick insulation ensures the outside is usually cool to the touch. If this is a concern, check the brochure or user manual before purchase.
Are high speed ovens easy to clean?
Most modern high speed ovens provide step-by-step cleaning instructions through a built-in screen. Others, such as Menumaster ovens have exclusive non-stick liners which make them much easier to clean than models without. Be aware that you usually need to factor in cooling time in any cleaning routine.