Living Without A Big Oven: An Ode to the Breville Smart Oven

Product Review

My oven broke over Christmas. That's four months without a big oven. I could have had it repaired at any time but never felt the urgent need to do so. That's because I have my Breville Smart Oven. (I don't work for Breville or have any ties to the company whatsoever, I promise). The Smart Oven toasts, bakes, broils, and reheats. It's perfect for someone living alone or for couples. But it's also great for cooking for kids. I always hated heating up an entire oven for 8 tiny faux-chicken nuggets or a small Amy's Organic pizza for my kids! In fact, I am starting to think I could probably live without a big oven; that space could be better served with drawers or shelves.

The Breville Smart Oven also heats up super fast and is big enough to cook everything I want to cook. Granted, I am not a big baker. But neither are any of my friends and most of them have big "professional" stainless steel ovens that cost them thousands of dollars and go largely unused!

The specs:

• The Smart Oven is an 800-watt convection toaster oven with 4/5-cubic-foot nonstick interior.

• Costs about $250 from Amazon. Not cheap by toaster standards but worth every penny in our house.

• You can choose from nine pre-set functions: Toast, Bagel, Bake, Roast, Broil, Pizza, Cookies, Reheat, or Warm; each setting with its own pre-programmed temperature and cooking time.

• The timer turns the oven off at the end of the cycle, whether it is set for toasting or baking. I like this because you can be upstairs bathing the kids or whatever and not worry about burning food or setting the house on fire.

• You can bake a 13" pizza with the pan that is included.

• Toasts up to 6 pieces of bread or bagels.

• Fits a 13" x 9" baking pan or the larger pan that comes with the oven. I have cooked pork loin, steak, BBQ chicken and a host of other dinners in the Smart Oven.

• Crumb tray eliminates messes and is easy to use.

Preheats faster:
It takes significantly less time to preheat the Breville than our big standard oven. A big boon with kids tugging at your legs for dinner.

Kitchen stays cool:
The toaster oven doesn't heat up our whole kitchen the way our regular oven does. This is no small achievement during the sweltering summer months in Washington DC!

Saves a little energy and cost:
According to this cool website, Michael Bluejay, most people won't save much energy by changing their cooking methods. Using a standard toaster oven instead of a regular full-size oven, for example, will only save you $2.61/mo. He says you will save way more energy by switching from central heat to space heaters, by setting your air conditioner to a higher temperature, switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs, or washing clothes in cold water instead of hot. Bluejay also points out that if you are keen to save energy for environmental reasons, you will reap the most savings from going vegetarian because it takes 68 times more energy to produce beef than to produce potatoes!

What the Breville CAN'T do:
You can't bake a very big dish or a large tray of hors d'oeuvres for a party. For me, the Breville is big enough to cook a decent lasagna or quiche. But it is not big enough for a big chicken or a turkey. If you want to make a massive pot roast you will have to find a recipe that calls for stovetop cooking. For me, when we entertain a large group, which isn't very often, we make dishes on the stovetop or make smaller baked items in batches in the Breville (many baked dishes do fine sitting out for 45 minutes while the other batch cooks). We simply do not make big batches of cookies or muffins anyway. My kids don't need a ton of cookies and cakes around and nor do I! Plus, when we want a special desert there are so many great bakeries in town these days! Not to mention the endless school bake sales.

Find it: Breville BOV800XL The Smart Oven 1800-Watt Convection Toaster Oven with Element IQ $249.95 at Amazon

Related:
Product Review: Breville Smart Oven
My Essential Appliance: Breville Smart Oven

- Post contributed by Catrin Morris of Apartment Therapy

(Image: Amazon)