Updates keep Aga hot

It's the 'hottest' oven in Britain so what's the secret of its success? Sharon Dale reports

Invented almost 100 years ago, the Aga inspires devotion among its owners.

Ask why they love it and they'll tell you that food tastes better when cooked in an Aga, that it allows you to cook intuitively, that the dog adores curling up in front of it and that they really cannot imagine life without it.

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It's not all perception and hype. An Aga works differently to a conventional oven. It's made of cast iron and steadily transfers heat from its core to the ovens and hotplates. This radiant heat cooking is an altogether gentler process than that of most conventional cookers and preserves more of the food's moisture, flavour, texture and goodness.

Other models are available, of course, but Aga, made in England, is the brand leader and its century long success is down to reinvention and regular updates.

One of the biggest gripes was the cost of running one but now there is no need to leave it on constantly thanks to gas and electricity fired versions. The all-electric Aga Total Control takes about 10 minutes to fully warm up and the Dual Controlis available as an all-electric model or with gas ovens and electric hotplates.

When size matters, there's now a 60cm wide version for smaller kitchens. If you have lots of space and love to cook you can buy a seven oven Aga.

As for colours, they now follow trends, so there's a baby pink version and a new coastal-inspired Salcombe Blue.

“Aesthetically the Aga cookers have changed very little over the years. What has changed is how the they work. They have become more controllable and efficient,” say Jaime O'Connor, an Aga fan who appeared on Dragons' Den with a range of products she created for cleaning Agas and other ovens.

She and husband Dale, who have worked with Agas for the last 15 years, have just become retail partners with the firm in a new outlet in Ripponden.

Their showroom opens on the day that Aga launches its new 3 Series electric cooker.

For those nervous about Aga cooking, Jaime adds: “Cooking on an Aga is easy to learn. They are good for winter dishes, such as slow-cook casseroles, and joints of meat and Christmas dinner, they make great summer food and desserts too. One of my favourites is the meringue recipe - they come out perfectly every time.

“Agas have lots of other uses too - helping to dry clothes and rain-drenched pets are just two.”

*Jaime and Dale's Aga showroom is at 40c Oldham Road, Ripponden, opens on Saturday, June 23, with the launch of the AGA 3 Series.