I knew I was on dodgy ground when I said I wasn't sure about whether we would keep the Aga but I didn't expect quite the response I got both on here and on Facebook... there are some strong opinions out there! So just to put the record straight I didn't say it would definitely go and I did say there wouldn't be any rushed decision. Like the garden, we will live with it for a year, keep an eye on the electric bills and see how it goes. I like cooking with it well enough but probably no more or less than with my old fan oven.
Tonight I came in from a day working in London and it was good to put a baked potato in the already hot oven to have it ready in a little over an hour... although to be fair the fan oven only took five minutes to heat up. Of course, everyone was at pains to tell me I need an alternative cooking method for the summer months when the Aga can be turned off, but therein lies the problem. We don't have an alternative and the kitchen has been designed so that there is no obvious space for another oven and/or hob. And remodelling the kitchen is definitely not on the agenda. I guess I don't really understand why anyone needs two separate cooking methods either... one for summer and another for winter feels a little extravagant! Our other problem is that if the Aga was replaced then we would also have to find alternative heating for the room in the winter. We first viewed the house in December and it was very cosy but without the Aga I think it would be rather cold. This week when the weather has been cooler it hasn't been too much of a problem to have it throwing out heat, at least nothing that can't be solved by keeping the windows open but last week it really was unbearable... although I guess there aren't really many days in the year that are that hot. So like I say, there's lots to consider, for every arguement ther is a counter arguement and there won't be any rushed decisions, but thank you for your input!
On the positive side, I made my first cake in the Aga at the weekend and it was a resounding success. Just a simple jam sponge - four eggs (at room temperature) were weighed in their shells and then an equal weight of soft unsalted butter (butten softens very quickly near the Aga!) and sugar were beaten together with some vanilla paste until light and fluffy. The eggs were added, beaten in one at a time and the finally an equal amount of sifted self raising flour was folded into the batter taking cake not to over mix. It was divided between two 8" (20 cm) lightly greased and lined tins and baked for 23 mins in my baking oven (180 deg C or 160 fan). When cool, it was sandwiched together with jam, because I have a ridiculous number of pots of old jam that made the move with us, but other fillings are available.. buttercream, lemon curd, nutella would all work.
The result was a light, moist and very evenly risen cake so the Aga might well stay after all!