If you are the proud owner of an Omnia oven – you need to know these tips!
We have had our Omnia for a while after seeing it on various vanlife accounts on social media. We knew we had to try one. We have never had an oven in the van, which had truly limited my (Sophie) baking, which may have been good for our waistlines but not so good for our greedy taste buds. When we saw the Omnia oven we looked into it and ordered ourselves one. They are fairly expensive, but ours has been well used and loved for a good couple of years now. It has taken a beating but it still does the job perfectly, so for us, well worth the investment (We have gone through a couple of the silicone Omnia moulds though – although that’s a whole different story!). After a couple of years using it we wanted to share our top tips with you!
What is an Omnia oven?
The Omnia is a stove top oven. Originally created in Sweden for kitchens on boats it has taken vanlife by storm. It takes up much less room in the van than an oven and means you can enjoy some of those meals you may have thought were off limits! If you want to see more information about the Omnia and how it works then you can read our article here. To describe it briefly the Omnia oven sits on a hob. It can be used on most types of heat source including bbq’s, but can not be used on an induction hob. The heat from the hob heats the bottom of the pan and passes through the ‘hole’ in the middle. When the heat hits the lid it bounces back in to heat the top of the pan. This ensures a nice even heat throughout.
Omnia oven tip number 1
This Omnia tip definitely needs to be at number one! Man – these things get H-O-T, hot!!! Think Nelly needing to take off all his clothes hot! So this first tip is a bit of a safety warning. When using the Omnia it will become very hot. This includes the lid and handle, so please be careful when handling.
We always use a tea towel to hold the handle when taking the lid off (I say we – but Mark has asbestos fingers so usually manages without!). Also be careful where you put the lid after taking it off as you wouldn’t want to burn your van worktops. If using the silicone mould this becomes super hot too.
It is definitely not an unusual occurrence for the smell of singed hair to lingering in our van when using the Omnia. It’s cheaper than waxing! Seriously though if using it be very careful about the heat coming up through the centre when the lid is off. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
Omnia oven tip number 2
Low and slow
Being as the Omnia is on the hob it’s very easy to get a burnt bottom! The first few cakes I made had more than a dark tinge to the bottom where I had the heat too high. The tip when cooking with an Omnia is to cook over a low/medium heat. This means the heat will be more evenly distributed and won’t get too hot at the bottom. Sometimes this means you have to cook things for a little longer than you would in a conventional oven.
It can be tricky to get the balance and does take some getting used to. You can use a thermometer if you would like to monitor the temperature until you get used to the best level of heat to use. We have never used the thermometer in our Omnia oven and feel happy getting the right balance with the heat, but that may not work for everyone. If in doubt, low and slow is the way to go!
This leads us on to tip number 3…
Omnia oven tip number 3
Like we said before, cooking in an Omnia oven requires a bit of a knack. Trusting the Omnia to work its magic and not being able to see how it’s coming along definitely puts your willpower to the test!
It’s important when using the Omnia oven to have a bit of faith. It can be tricky when you can’t see what’s happening while cooking. Especially if you are playing around with the heat to get the right temperature. You may have slightly more faith is using a thermometer so you can at least see the temperature is correct. As I said before – we have never used one so can’t account for it’s accuracy.
As with a conventional oven if you open it, the heat escapes and so it goes without saying this happens with the Omnia too. While it may get back up to temperature pretty quickly it does mean you may end up with a sunken cake – nobody wants that!
So as difficult as it is, top tip number three is not to peek in at your goodies baking away. We have tried to peek through the holes. Mark is convinced he can see in through the holes using a torchlight – me, not so much. So stick with trusting the process – which usually works – and if you do need to take a peek try to lift the lid only slightly and be quick!
Omnia oven tip number 4
Use the mould!
The main staples we cook in the Omnia oven are bread and cakes. As with most metal tins, when cooking in them, things can get stuck. So Omnia top tip number 4 is to use the mould. When we initially purchased the Omnia oven, we purchased the oven alone. We weren’t sure how we were going to get along with it and didn’t want to buy all the bits of kit that go alongside it if we didn’t like it. This was a bit of a rookie mistake.
Trying to line a round tin with a hole in the middle with baking paper is no easy feat! Not impossible but certainly not something I wanted to be doing everytime I used the Omnia – or ever again for that matter! Not only was it a nightmare to fit in, the edges got stuck into the side of the cake pulling chunks off when removed.
It is probably best to have 2 moulds if you can afford it, one for sweet and one for savoury….. we’ll come onto that later.
Using the mould has 2 purposes. Firstly, it will stop your delicious baked goods from getting stuck to the Omnia oven. Secondly it holds heat really well. This means whatever you are cooking will continue to cook even after the heat is off. We appreciate this can be a bad thing as well as good! Due to this when using, I personally take my cakes off the heat slightly before I need to and leave it in the pan and mould to continue cooking. Remove the lid though – nobody likes a sweaty cake. Plus this saves on gas!
Omnia oven tip number 5
To heat or not to heat?
This next tip for using your Omnia oven is a contentious one. We have seen many a discussion about whether to pre-heat your Omnia oven or not. Just as you would pre-heat a conventional oven, some argue that it would be beneficial to pre-heat your Omnia oven also. We have tried with and without and didn’t notice a massive amount of difference to be honest.
When making cakes in particular pre-heating the oven can be crucial to the rise, texture & taste of the cake as explained here by Betty Crocker. In our experience we quite often pre-heat the oven for a few minutes before. They get hot very quickly. If we don’t pre-heat the Omnia then we turn the heat up high for a few minutes to get the heat in quickly and help the cake to rise. Just remember to turn it down for the rest of the cooking so you don’t get a burnt bottom!
Being as there are mixed opinions about this let us know in the comments if you pre-heat your Omnia or not.
As the Omnia oven increases in popularity more and more products are becoming available. If cooking a savoury meal then these split liners may come in handy!
There are rumours that if you want to avoid a burnt bottom then you can sit the liner on top of the wire rack. Some say this helps ensure the bottom of the cake doesn’t get too hot and burn. We haven’t tried this one so if you try it let us know.
This third bonus tip comes from experience! Just imagine your lovely other half – who is now banned from using the Omnia – used the Omnia. Imagine said other half cooked a fish pie, yes you read that correctly – FISH PIE in your beloved Omnia Oven. Imagine getting ready to bake a cake in your precious Omnia, open the lid and boom, the whiff of fish hits you. I tried all sorts of things to try and get the smell out of the mould. Trying to get out of the dog house, the lovely other half was moments away from purchasing a new one when I found this awesome tip on the internet. Warm the mould up, this then opens the pores of it. Washing it with warm soapy water then means you can clean it more effectively. This works with all high grade silicone products – Omnia mould saved.
This would probably be a good time to mention why we are on our second Omnia mould. Mark decided to use the Omnia (before the fish pie incident!) he placed the liner in between the base and the oven. This resulted in a melted mould and silicone all over the hob! Not a great experience.
Still not convinced an Ominia oven is for you, or looking for a different option? Check out our article detailing oven ideas for vanlife here!
We hope you enjoyed reading these top tips for using an Omnia oven. Make sure to check out our Omnia recipes, and add your own too!
If you are looking to buy your very own Omnia oven, we recommend purchasing from the amazing Brown Bird & Company
Please note : this article contains affiliate links. These incur you no extra charges on your purchases but provides us with a small commission to cover the running costs of the website. Thank you