Cast in Fire Part 3: AGA Classic Ranges

Picture it. It’s sometime between November and March. You just get back inside your home from an afternoon of hiking. Its chilly and been drizzling all day with a few showers coming through. So you are cold, wet and quite frankly, even though you feel great, you are chilled to the bone. You shed your outerwear and outdoor shoes and then you walk into your kitchen. The warmth envelops you as you glance at your Cobalt blue AGA range. It is connected to your natural gas line, as that is how it is powered and given your situation, you are grateful. You place your hands on the enameled surface and the gentle heat begins to thaw your hands. You sigh and go to the fridge and grab the dinner that you prepared earlier and then you slide it into the baking oven, knowing that it will be ready for dinner in an hour. No need to cover it as with the individual cast iron ovens, the heat is gentle and will not dry out your food. You latch the door and place your hands back on the cooktop to finish warming yourself up.

Sounds like a brilliant dream, doesn’t it? With an AGA range, your kitchen can have that cozy warmth all of the time. Of course, during summer, you can control when the oven is on or off, so you are not overheated, but we will get into that later. The AGA Classic ranges are made of cast iron. While this makes for one heavy range, it also creates the optimal environment for cooking foods, all the while being extremely energy efficient.

Cast iron, as a material, is a poor conductor of heat. While that may sound like a bad thing, it is actually the best! Cast iron takes a long time to come to temperature, however once it does reach that temperature, it takes quite a while to cool off. This means that the ovens in the AGA Classic range will hold onto the heat, cook evenly with little to no cold spots, and also hold moisture in whatever foods you are cooking.

Let’s first talk about the AGA Classic 24” City range. This is the smallest range of the AGA line. It features a 4 gas burner cooktop, from its lowest setting at 1,000 BTU up to 11,000 BTU for a wide range of cooking ability from simmering to sauteing. The two smaller burners are called semi-rapid burners which are perfect for smaller pans and very useful for simmering and poaching. The grates on the cooking surface are also cast iron to ensure even heat distribution and the cooktop itself is covered with vitreous enamel, so it is very easy to clean and care for and is available in 17 different colors!

At 24 inches in width, this range is great for small spaces, especially in small apartments or ADU’s. Given its small size, it offers amazing performance. The gas cooktop, that we talked about above, is only the beginning. The two built in ovens are where the AGA 24” City shines. These cast iron ovens are electric and heat up incredibly evenly. The doors on the oven are heavily insulated, so they can preserve the moisture in whatever you are cooking, and it does not allow intrusive odors escape either. Each oven is individually heated, so they can each work independently of each other. Best of all, since this range is powered by electricity, these ovens can be turned on and off at a whim (no pilot light to maintain.)

Something that is quite different on AGA Ranges, is that their ovens are made to run at a specific range of temperatures. This is hard for us on the US “side of the pond” to comprehend, but in practice it works quite well. The ovens in AGA ranges are set to hold three temperatures. How those ovens are programmed depends on the AGA range that you are looking at. In this instance, the AGA 24” City has two electric ovens that can be set at one of three settings.

  • Roasting oven (approx. 425°F-475°F)
  • Baking oven (approx. 325°F-375°F)
  • Slow Cook oven (approx. 212°F-245°F)

As you can see, these temperature settings are set to what you would expect if you are roasting, baking or slow cooking. As an American, you may be uncomfortable with this type of setting, however they work extremely well and are very easy to get used to.

As we move onto the more traditional AGA Ranges, you will notice quite a bit of difference in the way that it looks. First up is the 39” Classic Total Control Range.

The Total Control AGA Range is an ell electric version of their all gas range. This new generation of AGA ranges can be turned on and off with the touch of a button, and has very fast heat up times. In looking at the range, you can see the iconic look that makes AGA an AGA. All of the ovens (3) and the hot plates on top can be operated independently of each other. You can also program the ovens to do what you need.  The range includes a slumber setting so that the oven stays warm (reducing heat up times).

This range employs cast iron throughout each oven and the two hotplates on top. These provide 10 cooking methods in just one unit. There are electric elements embedded in each oven and below the upper hot plates that allow each to heat and work independently. The ovens take only an hour to heat (remember, these are cast iron, so while this is a poor conductor of heat, they old the heat much longer and creates a better cooking environment) and the hotplates under 11 minutes to reach their top temperature. Unlike traditional AGA ranges, this unit may be turned off and turned on at will.

With the hotplates on top of the range, you have one (right) that is for sauteing and boiling, and one (left) for simmering and toasting. Wait? Toast? Yes, that is right! You can cook right on the cast iron hot plates. You essentially have two griddles at your fingertips. The cast iron top also extends to the edges of the cooktop, so the closer you are to the center of that hotplate, the hotter it will be, the further away from the center, the cooler it will be, so much like a French top range, you can move your pots and pans around depending on the temperature required for what you are cooking.

View of the cast iron hotplates

Now, let’s look at the control panel. This is the brains of your new AGA range. Very easy controls that change at the touch of the screen. To learn more, a video on the use of the control panel can be seen below.

Video on how to use the control panel on the AGA Total Control Range.

From this panel, you can set the ovens to one of many different heat settings. The roasting oven has five pre-set cooking settings, R9, R8, R7, R6 and B4, which provide the flexibility to vary the oven temperature from very hot to moderate. This oven can operate as a second baking oven. The R9 setting is ideal for what AGA calls fast grilling. This will be much like a traditional roasting or finishing temperature to finish the browning of what you are cooking.

The baking oven has four pre-set cooking settings, which are B4, B3, B2 and B1. These vary the temperature of the oven from moderate to cool. Cooking sweet and savory items simultaneously is not a problem in the ovens as the flavors do not mix. This oven may also be used as a second simmering oven.

So what about the bottom right oven? What could that possibly do? Well, this is the simmering oven. It will hold your finished meals at the perfect serving temperature, as well as warm your plate or even slowly cook a meal. You will never need to drag our your crockpot with this!

The last range that we will be talking about is the Classic Dual Control AGA Range. This is the most traditional of all the AGA Ranges that we offer and it is available in all electric or gas/electric. The all electric model, is very much like the Total Control. With the gas/electric version, this is where things get interesting.

The top two hotplates on the Dual Control are the same as the total control, meaning that they are electric and work independently of each other and the ovens. Now, the ovens on this unit are powered by gas and when the ovens are on, all the ovens heat. So you have your roasting oven (upper right), your simmering/slow cooking oven (lower right) and the baking oven (lower left). Above the baking oven is the control panel, which differs significantly from the one on the Total Control.

Control Panel of the AGA Dual Control Range.

As you can see, this control panel has has one knob at the top for the hotplates and another for the ovens. The hot plates can be turned on and off individually, or both at the same time. Below that top knob, you can see the Oven Gas Control Knob and the Oven Thermostat Control. The Gas Control Knob turns on the ovens. The Thermostat Control Knob will control how much gas is provided to the ovens. Lower means lower temperatures in heat, and then higher means higher temperatures each. The ovens are still the same, Roasting oven, Baking Oven and Simmering Oven.

The Oven Heat Indication is simply showing you when your ovens are up to temperature. If the indicator shows and amber color, it will be heating. If it shows a fluctuating green light, it is almost to temperature and you can begin baking, just keep in mind that it may take a bit longer to bake your items since the ovens are not 100% up to temperature. A solid green light means that you are up to temperature and ready to bake!

AGA Ranges are truly stunning appliances and are a complete joy to work with, once of course, you know how! We do admit there is a bit of a learning curve with them, but with some use you will be on your way to making a complete Thanksgiving meal in one all at the same time! (Each oven space allows for a 28 pound turkey if you need it!)

If you have any questions, or would like to learn even more about AGA Ranges, please do not hesitate to give Metropolitan Appliance a call, text or webchat. Remember, we are the exclusive dealer of AGA Ranges in the Seattle and Puget Sound area!

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