Mary Berry makes it look so easy. Kirsty just makes us want to have one more. It turns out even Daisy Lowe cooks with one. So that’s it: how do I cook with an Aga?
Haging burnt some scones and failed with a batch of fairy cakes I need to cook more than casseroles with my Aga. If I don’t, it is in danger of becoming a rather expensive, if not glamorous, tea towel drier!
And after all, an oven that remains at the top of the domestic desirables list for 100 years must have something in its favour…Surely I am not the only home cook who is limited to soups and stews and the occasional slow roast?
These are not modern day machines, not least because of the impact they have environmentally! And while the Aga is having something of a renaissance thanks in part to The Great British Bake Off and some celebrity bloggers, the fact remains that they are darned tricky to get right.
It’s the kind of cooking that you can’t find a book on because these are the ovens of history and folklore. Chances are if you like cooking with one, and you know what to do with it, then your mother or your granny cooked with one at home.
So in my quest to figure out how and what to cook, and not being able to spend an entire day at the Aga shop learning how to do it, I have asked some friends in the know for their top tips.
TOP FOUR AGA TIPS
- They take ages to heat up and ages to cool down – bear this in mind especially when cooking something in the oven that requires a steady heat. As soon as the lid of a hotplate is lifted the oven starts to cool down. Make sure the roast is done before you even make the gravy!
- Develop a taste for the oven cooked: If it takes more than 7-8 minutes to cook on the hotplate it probably should be cooked in the oven. Think bolognese, risotto and shepherd’s pie.
- Keep the cold shelf cold – ie don’t keep it in the oven! The shelf is used (apparently) to keep the oven at a regular temperature for cake baking, so in order to cool the oven down it first has to be cool when it is dropped in.
- Bake potatoes. When all else fails these are delicious, simple and sure to please! Tuck them up in the bottom of the oven, go for a walk and come home to a warming, comforting meal. And unlike a sponge cake or a rotisserie style chicken, it is very hard to mess up a jacket potato.
Find more Aga recipes at @RealWestDevon
And for a hearty family favourite, here is how to cook the perfect chilli: Aga-style