The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held annually in Las Vegas is an event that highlights new and upcoming technology-related products, and since businesses often use it as an opportunity to showcase their most innovative technology, you can find things that you might never have expected.
LG brought some very “smart” technology to CES this year in the form of kitchen appliances. They introduced a Smart Refrigerator and a Smart Oven. The refrigerator has a LCD screen on the front that runs a version of Google’s Android operating system. While you’ll be able to check the weather and leave digital memos with the software (no more magnets or post its on the fridge!), you will also be able to use an app called Food Manager. This program keeps track of what you have in the fridge, what all of your expiration dates are and can even suggest possible menus based on the food you have available.
The Smart Oven pairs up with a smart phone to allow you to control your oven remotely. So, for instance, if you want to bake a batch of cookies, you can simply select a recipe from the oven’s large recipe bank and it will preheat to the appropriate temperature. This can be done remotely, via a connected app, or manually, as well. The oven will also share a connection with the fridge, so you can send a suggested recipe from the fridge right to the oven.
You probably won’t see products like these in stores just yet, but they are indicative of where our kitchen technology is headed and it might not be too long before we see things like this become more widely available. I just hope they make it easy to bookmark recipes from your favorite blogs in the oven’s recipe bank, too!
Almost every single baking recipe starts with an instruction to preheat your oven. This step sounds so simple, but it is actually the single most difficult step in baking. Unless you have left an ingredient out by mistake or you’re dealing with a recipe that is flawed (i.e. an instruction has been left out), many baking problems are cause by incorrect oven temperature and can be solved by preheating your oven correctly to ensure that it has reached the temperature you need to bake. It sounds obvious, but I can attest to the fact that it is incredibly tempting to put a tray of unbaked cookies into the oven without having to wait for a preheat.
The first step to preheating an oven is to turn it on to the temperature you want it to be. In my old oven, this involved turning a dial. In my newer, more modern oven, this involves hitting a few buttons.
Step two is waiting at least 10 minutes (probably longer) and then checking your oven thermometer to see if the temperature is correct. This step is crucial. Older ovens don’t have indicators that tell you when the oven has reached the desired temperature, so you must rely on a thermometer. Newer ovens often have sound indicators that alert you the oven has been preheated – and they often have nothing to do with the temperature inside of the oven. A thermometer placed in the center of the oven (or close to it) is the only way to be positive that the temperature is correct.
Now you can place your unbaked cakes or cookies inside, but be aware that every time you open the oven door that the temperature will drop slightly. Ideally, you will leave the door closed until the product is almost fully baked to try to maintain that constant temperature.
Very common problems cause by an oven temperature that is too low include pie fillings that won’t set and crusts that are soggy, cookies that spread too much and cakes that sink in the center or never fully rise. Common high temperature oven problems include cracked cakes and cheesecakes and, of course, burned cookie bottoms and pie crusts.
Every time you open the oven door, some heat escapes. This is one of the many reasons that baking times can vary from person-to-person for the same recipe, as there is no telling from a writer’s standpoint how long a person will leave his or her oven door open while trying to fit in cake pans and baking sheets. Kitchen manufacturer Gaggenau has come up with an absolutely gorgeous oven that tries to solve this problem. The Lift Oven is built to utilize the fact that heat rises and, instead of having a door that opens on the front of the oven, it has a base that lowers to open and raises to close – leaving the hot air in the preheated oven above. Better yet, the manufacturer suggests mounting this oven above the counter, so the platform comes down to your level for loading and unloading and completely eliminating the need to bend down or to reach into a hot oven.
The oven opens and closes at the touch of a button, and Gaggenau says that it has 11 different heating methods, including a convection setting. It also has a glass-ceramic base, which you can put cookies, breads, pizzas and other baked goods on – no baking sheet required. The only real drawbacks are the the oven is only 24 inches (many out there are larger, so it might not be idea for very large roasts, etc.) and it costs over $4,000. That said, there are plenty of ovens that are even more expensive, and this is still a great looking oven, not to mention an addition I certainly wouldn’t mind having in my kitchen.