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 Post subject: Cooking / baking with an AGA?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 4:27 am 
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Does anyone have any experience cooking & baking with an AGA? I've read a lot online about how difficult it can be to cook on an AGA because there are no temperature controls or anything but the person selling the house that has it says that cooking on it is easy and that it's amazing for baking. From what I'm reading they're good for stews and stuff but making fiddly things that need temperature control (like caramel for example) is impossible.

I'm probably going to be restarting my little bakery and hopefully teaching some baking classes and I just don't see it working with an AGA. I hated runnig my bakery using a super old gas oven and I'd really like to replace the AGA with a decent electric oven or if that's not an option keep it and add an electric oven too but it's a £10,000 oven so I feel like I need to do more research!

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 Post subject: Re: Cooking / baking with an AGA?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 8:13 am 
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My grandmother has an Aga, and since she doesn't quite get veganism, I do the cooking when I'm at hers.

It is great for some things, like roast potatoes, but yeah it doesn't do precision so well. She has a separate electric oven for baking in.

They are all quite individual, you have to learn the heat levels in your own, usually there are two or three doors which are different heats relating to their proximity to the heat source. So if you want to slow bake something, put it furthest away, if you want to heat something quickly, it's closer to. Of course, more modern ones I think are slightly easier to control, my grandmothers is at least fifty years old so not one of the more fancy versions.

You can make cakes in them, of course, people did and still do, but it's not as "precise science" as putting it in the oven at 175C or whatever you need. I personally wouldn't want to run a bakery from one but you could figure it out, especially if it's a modern one with a "baking cupboard". Don't think you'd be able to make any fancy aquafaba meringues or whatnot though.

The rings on top just work like regular ones except you can't change the temperature. With my granny's, there's one that's hotter (you could use it for browning, or quickly frying, or boiling) and one that's cooler (use it more for simmering or lower heat things like pasta sauce). The rings are pretty big though so you can move the pan around and get varying temperatures. I think I could make caramel on it, with a thermometer of course, and some vigilance.

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 Post subject: Re: Cooking / baking with an AGA?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 9:44 am 
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My gran used to like going next door to bake her bread in my aunt's Aga- she said it baked it nicely- but I don't know how much that was true or if gran just liked it because she had cooked on one growing up.

Agas seem to be quite fetishised. People say 'Oh they're so convenient"- and they were when they were first brought in, because they were replacing coal ranges, which took forever to get hot in the morning- you had to do a lot of fiddling about with dirty, sooty coal and waiting for it to heat up before you could have a cup of tea. But now we have the option of instant gas or almost instant electric cookers you don't really need to have something on all the time. And Agas are on all the time- you can't just turn them on while you're cooking. They're incredibly wasteful of fuel. They're also really hot- my aunt uses no central heating or electric heaters or anything in winter (except she has a boiler that heats the hot water) because the Aga keeps the house toasty warm (too hot in my opinion!), but in summer it would make the house unbearable, so she turns the Aga off all summer and cooks on a little camping stove.

Oh, another point in their favour- there is a big, square warming plate next to the cooking rings, which you can lay laundry on to dry and if you fold the things carefully it sort of irons them.

If you're going to teach baking classes it could be a pro or a con- for some people it would attract them because Agas are so romantic, and they might have one at home that their cook books don't translate exactly to; but for people who don't have an Aga you'd have to keep saying "and if you were doing this in a gas oven you'd do xyz". Though I suppose you're never going to have exactly the same oven as everyone in the class.
You'd need to really get used to it to be able to teach from it and I suppose you would anyway to get consistant results for selling baked goods.

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