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I'm about to buy a new oven. I can buy one which is able to steam the food, or one without.

The one with steam (a nice, but not necessary feature) only goes to 230 °C / 446 °F, while a regular one to 275 °C / 527 °F.

The salesman claimed that no one needs anything higher than the 446 °F, but I've used higher temperatures many times; pizza, roasting meat, etc.

Have I used too high temperatures before? Or was he just uninformed?

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13  
The salesman is full of crap. 450 °F is completely inadequate as an upper limit. –  AirThomas Aug 25 at 15:22
7  
If you have successfully used high temperatures, then there is a use for them. When buying an appliance, think of you will use it, not how everyone else does. –  valverij Aug 25 at 17:28
    
My suspicions were confirmed. Kitchen salesmen tends (in my experience, 2 kitchens) to know that the customer is making a rather big investment and is out of their comfort zone, so they often act somewhat arrogant and superior. –  NiklasJ Aug 25 at 20:38
    
@LightnessRacesinOrbit Please post a separate question if you actually want to know about how people make pizza, or go to Seasoned Advice Chat if you just want to be snarky. I'll clean up the comments here; they're tangential and way too chatty. –  Jefromi Aug 27 at 0:57
    
If someone was wondering: I bought a really expensive one that both have steam AND can get to really high temperatures (300 C). –  NiklasJ Dec 5 at 9:47

3 Answers 3

up vote 36 down vote accepted

There is lots of use for high temperatures. Especially pizza is the first thing that comes to mind; there is no home oven which can get to the proper temperatures for a Neapoletana (which are above 500 Celsius), but more is always better.

Of course, the salesman will tell you what you need to hear to buy his product, don't listen to him. This still doesn't mean that you should only buy the oven with the highest max temperature; there are badly built ovens which claim to reach 300 Celsius but can't actually do it, in this case you are probably better off with a better quality oven with a lower nominal maximum temperature. It is probably best to compare reviews made by independent test organizations.

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He is absolutely wrong. You can't make a pizza properly at 450°F. You can buy a 1/4" piece of steel, put that under the broiler for 30 minutes, and then put the pizza on that. It will cook in approximately 2 minutes, which is what you want. A home oven typically cooks it for 7 or 8 minutes. At that temperature, the dough becomes much drier and the proteins in the cheese become completely different. You want super high heat to be transferred to the pizza as soon as possible. That provides the spring to the dough, making it rise super fast and cooking completely before it dries out. That gives you a crispy crust with a tender inside and big bubbles. It also melts the cheese so it does not “break” and separate the curd and whey.

You can cook many things at a super hot temperature, particularly if you have a convection fan.

The thing to remember, however, is that air is a bad transmitter of heat. You can hold your hand in air that is 212°F, but you can’t put it into a pot of boiling water. So for pizza or any kind of baking that you want to do very quickly, or making something like fajitas, steel is a good transmitter of heat. Something like a pizza stone is OK, but those are better at storing than transmitting. They work in commercial ovens because those get to be 900°F or so, depending on whether they’re wood-fired or coal-fired.

The salesman is utterly and completely clueless.

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1  
Clueless, or maybe just trying to sell a particular model he's been instructed to push. Either way: disregard. –  logophobe Aug 25 at 21:32
    
At 500F you can't make a true Neapolitan or NY style pizza, but you can come close to a Chicago-style, thin crust St. Louis-style standard-oven-pizzeria (with a stone or steel). Preheat and increase time by 20%, adjusting dough to be slightly wetter. Resting the dough in the fridge longer can help soften the texture too. –  Bruce Alderson Aug 25 at 22:05

In addition to pizza almost any hard bread will require a temperature of at least 450f. There is really no other way to get a good crust on bread.

Also it is work noting that if steam is required there are oven designed for baking which include steam jets as well as the ability to reach temps in the range of 550-600f. However if you are going to do a lot of steam cooking I would not advise doing it in the oven.

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