If you’ve dreamed about bringing some of the TV chefs’ professional equipment into your own kitchen, this Bosch Benchmark Series Double Oven HBLP651LUC review will interest you.
It’s immediately apparent from the quality of construction and materials that this would be right at home in a commercial kitchen, but it’s been scaled down to domestic proportions.
– Side opening door, mountable on left or right side
– High quality of design and construction
– Intuitive LCD touch screen
– Gourmet programs
– Flush installation with kitchen cabinets
– Good value: you get a lot for a reasonable price
– A lot of heat vents through the front of the oven
The quality of design, materials and finish is obvious from the moment you open the over door. The door swings open to the side, firmly and smoothly on reinforced hinges, and seals shut like the outer hatch on a Space Shuttle. Telescoping racks slide out and are just as solidly engineered. The user-friendly controls and programmable cooking modes are friendlier for home cooking, and the touch screen control panel deepens the excitement that you are in the presence of no ordinary oven. Let’s find out if it warrants the price of $6,749.
Convection from Europe
Unlike most conventional ovens, the Benchmark Series oven uses true convection, also known as European convection, to distribute heat evenly. A series of fans circulate the hot air around the food and the racks, to cook every surface with equal amounts of heat.
Side-opening doors are a bonus and another European influence. They will be appreciated by anyone who’s scorched their forearms reaching across a front-opening door to grab a dish from a conventional oven. Doors that open out and away from the body are a feature of professional ovens that hasn’t caught on yet in the USA, and very welcome here.
Adding to the oven’s clean, uncluttered lines is the LCD color touchscreen which dispenses with dials and buttons for setting operating modes and temperature. It’s an elegant, well-thought-out interface, uncluttered and without superfluous options and distractions. It’s a snap to bake some cookies, for example – or just to set everyday options like a choice of oven, cooking mode and temperature.
The screen also displays the timer, and this has cook time and delayed start functions for managing multiple dishes that have different cooking times.
The display tracks the oven temperature as it preheats, and Bosch claim a faster preheating time than other ovens with the Benchmark Series. It was about average for electric ovens in our tests, even with the Fast Preheat feature activated: preheating to 350 degrees took 12 minutes.
Programs and features
We tried one of the standard programs for baking cookies and it didn’t disappoint. The cookies came out perfect, with soft, chewy centers and a slight crunch around the edges. By way of comparison, another batch baked with the Convection Bake program – more suitable for breads – produced uniformly baked, slightly softer cookies.
There are 14 specialized modes in total, with an AutoProbe taking the guesswork out of cooking and temperature monitoring. A Pizza setting uses extra heat to get the base crisped to perfection, and there’s an energy-saving EcoChef function that finishes the cooking cycle using residual heat built up inside the oven.
The telescoping rack is another godsend, a beautifully designed hinged arrangement that’s almost like a drawer inside the oven. It makes it much easier and safer to maneuver large, hot baking dishes and pans in and out of the oven.
The inside of the oven has clean lines with all the heating elements hidden away behind the cavity walls. It’s easy to keep it that way, with no obstruction to wiping spills away, and a self-cleaning function. It’s particularly easy to see inside thanks to the twin halogen lights in each oven, and the clear glass windows in the doors are extra large, so you can see your masterpieces developing and check their progress at a glance without disturbing the temperature.
Despite the professional looking design and finish, the Benchmark series ovens are a standard size and will fit flush into a 30-inch opening. So no major kitchen renovation work is required to upgrade your cooker to a Bosch. It is designed with contemporary flush-fitting aesthetics in mind, and the doors can be attached to open to the left or right, whichever functions best with your layout.
One less welcome feature of commercial ovens is the amount of heat produced through vents in the front of the oven. This is one reason people avoid them in their home kitchens and unfortunately this Bosch suffers in that respect, at times making it quite unpleasant to work around the upper or lower ovens with the amount of heat being put out.
There’s a great deal that impressed us in this oven review. This double oven is a real beauty to look at and operate. Cleanly styled in stainless steel and glass, there isn’t an unnecessary detail or control out of place. There are just enough options and cooking programs to give it a premium, professional feel. The LCD touchscreen is particularly well thought out – intuitive, clear and attractive, and much more than a technological gimmick. The side opening door is a real winner for us though – something that should have become a standard kitchen feature this far into the 21st century along with the best microwave ovens reviews.
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