Is there anything faster than a convection oven currently on the market?
– Culinary Science Student, Drexel University
When talking oven speed, you need to distinguish between hot and fast. If the goal is hot, quick cooking, the answer is yes. A pizza oven, for example, cooks much hotter than most commercial convection ovens and, accordingly, the food will cook (or burn) faster.
What you are really asking, though, is whether there is an oven that can prepare food to the same doneness in a shorter amount of time. Here too, the answer is yes. The most obvious example is the microwave oven, which heats food by radiation. Microwaving is certainly faster than convection for most foods but, of course, it does not actually bake or brown in the way an oven does.
For some years, the FlashBake oven promised to be the crispy competitor to the microwave in commercial settings. Using infrared lights and heat to both cook and crisp, the oven bakes many foods, especially thin menu items like cookies and pizza, in record time. The main obstacle to the FlashBake’s commercial success is its small countertop size and, accordingly, small load capacity. A Vulcan rep tells me that the FlashBake has been discontinued but is available used.
A combioven can also decrease cooking time compared to a traditional convection oven. By combining convection and steam, the humid air is a better conductor of heat than dry air.
Finally, it is useful to remember that not all convection ovens are created equal. Fast and multiple fans and good sealing can improve a convection oven’s speed, possibly making a good convection a better option than an entirely different piece of equipment.