This is a Premium feature
Aga - hacks, hints & tips needed(15 Posts)
Its now nearly two years since we moved house and inherited an Aga - the only means of cooking.
I've stuck with her (affectionately known as The Bitch) and have sort of got the hang of it after a lot of trial & error/disasters and tantrums but would very much appreciate some helpful hints that I feel seasoned Aga users keep to themselves . Baking remains a mystery - even with a cold shelf!
Especially anything that will ease the upcoming First Aga Xmas Dinner debacle - gulp
You don't say how the Aga is fed. Or if you have any way of gauging temperature of the ovens and hot plates. Mine is electric so I can reasonably rely on a constant temperature.
Have you had it serviced?
Get some way of checking temps n ovens
I have found bottom shelf tends to heat food faster due to heat from base of oven.
I would say WHAT you are cooking in is as important and what the food is and how it wants cooking.
We always cook roasts on a bed of veg with water in the bottom, cover for first half and uncover for second, take meat out and cover let rest for 15 20 mins but this is fairly standard. If its a large roast I try and use a heavier dish as I find this spreads the heat better and may also use the cold shelf under after the first 30 to 40 minutes.
Baking is more tricky. My Oven is set for around 180/190 which is a bit low for buns and a bit high for cakes. I do muffin size cakes in a 12 tin, but place near the top of the oven. You can check in Agas without effecting the cake too much which is a pro of using it so open door quick check and close isn't an issue. For actual cakes I tend to use smaller shallow cake tins and layer them up - this gives a smaller amount to cook so less risk of burnt edges. If you need a bigger cake I can turn my oven down but other things to think about are wrapping the tin with brown paper of some of that fancy greaseproof etc AND using the cold shelf after the first period (will vary depending on cake type. So anything that has to be in a long time thing about protecting it top and bottom as well as reducing the temp a bit if you are able to.
The other advice is anything that needs a higher temp e.g. yorkshires, cook them first while heat of oven is optimum - chuck a slab of meat in and it will effect the temperature.
I have found aluminum tins for cakes the best - I have a dinky pair of 6 inch ones that take up to a 3 egg mix that are perfect for the viccy sponge or choc cake. I also have a much bigger set and have successfully baked a 14 inch deep Madeira in one go on a reduce d oven temp and wrapping, plus using cold sheets up and down, but not for the full cook!!
So its def more of an art than a science.
For christmas - I generally cook a crown - although if you have too many could still be an issue - layer up with plenty of bacon but don't stuff the actual crown/bird - cook stuffing separately. Cook sitting on veg with plenty of liquid (can be used for gravy as its stock) and cover for at least 75% of cooking time.
Cook ham day before and again I cook in stock it seems to reduce saltiness and ensure its not too dry if its a big one.
Remember having the top up and veg on will take heat from the oven so maybe parboil roasties first thing and let go cold before poppin them in later on with the Turkey. With regard veg we do roasted parsnips (treat same as roasted pots) then rest of veg is steamed which at the longest takes 25 to 30 minutes on the top so it goes on 15 mins before turkey comes out. And cooks whilst turkey resting for a bit (covered to keep heat in) and carved.
Gravy made while bird resting and veg cooking as well, using juices from bird etc
Would you be able to have a bit of a trial run before christmas? Make notes to remind yourself how your oven works etc
Wow RB68 you are an oracle! OP I have an inherited Rayburn which I also don't love but am stuck with so I feel your pain. I can just about bake muffins and cookies but burn any cakes I've tried. Luckily my cooking style tends towards one-pot stews and casseroles anyway and in the summer we tend to try to avoid switching it on (gas powered). I'm going to keep following this and write down all RB's great tips, thank you!
Ps I have the Mary Berry Aga cookbook which has some useful tips and pointers on how they work (if you can wade through all the Aga nostalgia about drying wax jackets and black labs)
Thanks RB - you're an expert!
Its approx 20 years old, 2 oven gas version so doesn't have the controls the new elec models have. It has been regularly serviced too.
Thanks for the advice. I've booked myself on the local Aga Xmas cooking demo too so hopefully I can at least avoid a Raw vs Burnt battle!
I have a v old Aga cookbook that the previous owner left me. A fave dish being half a calves head!
Would you like that with chips or mash dear?!!
I have the Mary Berry Aga cookbook
I got mine with the then brand new Aga.
OP, do you have an Aga dealership nearby? Ours does open days and cookery days, otherwise some recipe sites also do Aga instructions.
Have you had it serviced recently?
Also see videos on YouTube, from how it works to recipes and techniques.
Oops, crossposted, that'll teach me to refresh before posting
i have to say I loved the Aga I used to have, just had to get into the habit of putting as much as possible in the ovens for greater efficiency.
My tip would be that you don't have to run the Aga at the supposedly ideal temperature. I had a 4 oven gas Aga and always felt it was a bit too hot if the temperature was on the black line. I used to run it a good way below the black line and did this for years with no problems. This means that your top oven behaves a bit more like a normal oven and your bottom oven can be used for long slow cooking.
The Aga cake baker is great for cakes, it's like a large pan which you put the cake in to bake it and it prevents burnt edges.
Make Yorkshire puddings first thing in the morning and then just reheat whilst the meat is resting.
Bring veg to the boil then put the pans (ideally without handles) in the bottom oven to prevent heat loss through the top. Or start the meat off in the top then move to the bottom oven to finish but you have to allow extra time for this.
Pyrex dishes are really good for cooking stuffing, sausages etc in. The Aga roasting tins are good and they fit on the runners.
Get the Aga non stick sheets and cook fried eggs directly on them with the lid down on the simmering plate - literal heaven. I grew up with one and I miss it badly. Can’t wait to have one of my own.
My mums is the same age as yours and last year she cooked Christmas dinner for 17 people and was in the pub for two hours at lunchtime. she credits her aga wholeheartedly for this. Everyone was astounded to even see her there!
It’s actually older than yours, just remembered how old I am! It’s 30 years old.
I do my turkey overnight in the bottom oven.
I have a three oven but tend to use the top oven and the cold shelf for baking.
Our family mantra is 'never turn your back on Aga toast'.
I went on an AGA demo today (all AGA shops do them) and it was fantastic. I learnt so much.
I have an additional question though - can anyone recommend where I can buy roasting pans etc that fit on the runners that aren’t the mega expensive AGA ones? I’ve been recommended a Tesco baking tray that fits which is a great tip! But would love a few roasting trays and pans with a lid for rice and veggies in the simmering oven
I grew up with an Aga and the roasts it made were amazing. We had beef at christmas, and it went in the top oven for about 30 minutes the night before, then was transferred to the bottom oven for the entire night. By the time we ate our late lunch (2pm - 3pm ish) it was meltingly tender (but obviously we all like well done meat!). It drove the poor dog nuts to smell it cooking all night.
Join the discussion
Please login first.