We've built an extraordinary reputation. We mean to keep it.

background Layer 1

We add recipes all the time, bookmark your favourites!

Hot weather review | My electric Aga cooker

It's 8pm on a Sunday evening and the light is Italian in Bath. Blue skies, warm air and hot sun. Not quite summer yet but at 22 or 23 degrees this afternoon it felt like it at times. Every window in the house is wide open but the kitchen is warm still, a great day to test our newly installed Blake & Bull Aga cooker.

When I came down this morning to make coffee it was 5.30am. For youngest daughter, 1 year old, that is a lie in. I've long since stopped leaving the cooker on overnight as it warmed up through April. The kitchen was a lovely temperature but I could already see blue skies out through our conservatory and immediately decided not to turn on either of the two ovens for the day. Both ovens can be set to any temperature from warm to roasting but in practice I rarely heat the lower oven too.

I made tea using my copper kettle and Instaheat hob. I have a two oven Modern style Aga cooker running on eControl Series X. One advantage of the Instaheat hob not noted in my recent review is that it cools DOWN quickly. I like the warmth it produces most of the time but when really hot the fact that it cools down quickly is very useful. The standard hotplate takes 15 minutes to max temp but a lot longer to cool down, I prefer the Instaheat in hot weather as it cools down in a few minutes. Less heat to the room is best in these circumstances!

The Instaheat is 'one click' to max by turning the dial anti-clockwise. It clicks into the max setting in a pleasing way. I never touch the hob selector knob that turns one or both of the hotplates to 'live' - its always set to 'both hotplates on' for minimum fussing. 

A little later that day I made porridge for both daughters, again using the Instaheat hob, and turned it off immediately after. Energy use so far today, negligible!

Lunch was some salads from my parents garden and a ready made pizza (don't judge me). Of course I needed an oven for this, a hot one, so turned on the oven late morning while we were outside. It's not quite like using a conventional oven, there is too much cast iron in an Aga for that, but it's only an hour or so to come up to temperature. I used the oven for the pizza and to warm some bread. It's job done it immediately went off again.

Using a starfish temperature monitor from my daughters bedroom I could see the air temperature was 24°C in the kitchen. Quite warm enough thank you!

To make dinner for children and adults this evening I've used both hotplates, no ovens, quite deliberately. The Instaheat does most of the 'heavy lifting' while the left hand hotplate, set to 3/4 heat, is my overflow hob. If you turn this on when you start cooking (literally the first thing you do) then you'll never even notice the warm up time, its that fast. The kitchen was cooling a touch into the evening of course so I was in less of a hurry to turn off. As I write this my dog, Alf the Golden Retriever, has finally stopped panting so it must be more pleasant in here! 

I think in hot weather you really see how much more pleasurable it is to own an Aga cooker that has been converted to electricity. Both eControl and Electrickit work very similarly and offer similar benefits. In the winter I leave an oven on 24/7 and absorb the heat from my cooker, not so in May! 

Matthew Bates

Matthew Bates

Matthew is from a farming family near Bath and a graduate of King's College London who decided not to follow the 'standard' path into banking or the law. He has been working with these fabulous cookers in some form or another since 2003. Matthew runs Blake and Bull from beautiful Bradford on Avon, near Bath. Alf the golden retriever makes sure the working day finishes at 6pm sharp - dog walk time!