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Where do I cook things in my cast iron oven?

How does an Aga work and why do we not talk about temperatures?

An Aga works on the basis of stored heat - the amazingly efficient insulation and the cast iron hold the heat produced by the burner. The cast iron is literally saturated with stored heat. When you put something into the oven to cook, it absorbs the heat from the cast iron and the insulation. At the end of cooking, the dish or joint or cake or whatever is cooked through, as it has absorbed the heat from the cast iron. The cast iron, therefore, will not be as hot at the end of cooking as it was at the start. 


You can tell if your Aga is at optimum heat if the mercury in a traditional heat indicator is sitting on the black line. With a more modern cooker, there are four black lines in the centre of the heat indicator and the optimum place for the blue alcohol indicator is half way up the third dash. With a DC, TC or the newest ones, they are either on or off and after they have been on for the right amount of time, they will be saturated with heat.

If you put an oven thermometer into the oven when it is fully saturated, you will have a snapshot of the current heat in the centre of the oven. Once you have cooked something, the temperature in the oven will be lower. This is completely normal and is the way an Aga works. It will recover its heat before you cook your next meal!

No one can accurately tell the temperature of an Aga oven except first thing in the morning, so look at the heat indicator at breakfast time three days in a row - if it is on the black line, your cooker is running at its optimum temperature and you need never look at the indicator again (especially as it goes up and down in a rhythm all of its own during the day and this is what alarms some owners!).

Always count the runners down from the top of the oven.


If you are using a non-Aga tin, hang the grid shelf at least one set of runners lower in the oven than instructed, it is the top edge of the tin that needs to be at the specified height in the oven, not the base.


The higher up the oven you cook things, the hotter it will be and the faster they will cook.


Roasting Oven:

1st runners


  • Grilling :   Set the food onto the grill rack in the roasting tin and hang from the first runners

  • Browning :  The closer the top of the food to the top of the oven, the faster it will brown


2nd runners

  • Anything to be crisp goes in a shallow tin on the second runners – roast potatoes, roast parsnips, roast vegetables, oven chips, fish fingers, salmon fillets, chicken breasts etc  etc

  • Cold plain shelf when baking cakes in the roasting oven


3rd runners

  • Deep tin, joints for roasting

  • Reheating chilled foods to stop them from browning too fast

  • Cold plain shelf for Yorkshire puddings to sit in top of, which will raise the temperature in the oven above the shelf


4th runners

  • Large roasting tin with cakes in for two-oven baking method, with the cold plain shelf on the 2nd runners

  • Roasting larger joints where they will touch the roof of the oven if any higher up!


Floor of roasting oven

  • Pastry for a pie or tart

  • Pizza

  • Loaves of bread to give a crisp crust on the base

  • Frying pan for browning meat, bacon or sausages

  • Saucepans of pasta, vegetables, rice,  etc especially in a Dual Control or Total Control or an Aga60 or ER3, to save switching on the hotplates

Baking Oven:


  • Biscuits and sponges go in the top half of the baking oven

  • Shortbreads and fruitcakes go in the lower half of the baking oven

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