Hands-on with Samsung’s miracle microwave oven

Microwaves are handy little things, but what else can you do with one other than reheat? We’ve put Samsung’s latest combination microwave to the test, making something to eat with it rather than seeing if it can do more than the basics.

As geeks, we’re fans of microwaves. What else would let us defrost foods so easily when we get home later than expected and reheat our pizza quickly when we’re hungry?

The latest microwaves are being equipped with more than just reheating and defrosting in mind, though, and Samsung’s Microwave Oven Combi is the latest example of that, accomplishing more than just the traditional warm-up, and going for gold with a grill, 1650W convection oven, microwave cooking based off sensors, and a special fermentation mode.

That last one intrigued us greatly, as it works by sucking in air and creating a small swamp-like feeling while running the fan-forced oven at a lower temperature. With that sort of concept at play, we could may yoghurt or rise dough.

Which got us thinking: if the Samsung Combi could work as both a fermenter, oven, and microwave, could we then make pizza from scratch by rising the dough with the first function, bake it using the second, and reheat it with the third?

We grabbed our ingredients and went to work crafting the dough, combining the bits and pieces and knocking back the dough, rolling it, punching it, rolling it, punching it some more.

Not much is needed for pizza dough – flour, salt, olive oil, yeast, water, a sprinkling of sugar – so it can be made pretty easily, and with an appliance like this to test, we have a good excuse for making the geek food of choice at work.

As you do. As we do.

Once the dough was prepped, we switched the Samsung Combi to its fermentation mode, throwing the dough inside for around 30 to 40 minutes.

Normally, you’re asked to leave the dough covered and in a warm spot, so the dough ball can respond to the heat, the yeast rising the flexible pastry and expanding in size. Inside the Samsung Microwave Oven Combi, this is exactly what happened, although you’re also forcing the reaction, thanks to the entire thing running like a low-heat fan-forced oven.

Samsung also claims this mode can be used to make yoghurt, provided you have a spoonful of yoghurt and milk to be used to start it and around 12 hours of time, also known as “overnight while you’re sleeping,” with the yoghurt ready when you wake up the next morning.

We were more interested in pizza though, and after half an hour, our dough had risen enough for us to work with.

Taking it out, it’s clear the microwave had done its job, and we were free to punch the dough back several more times, knead, work with it, and start rolling out the pastry to a cooking surface.

From here, we move to the oven mode, which offers up a convection oven to cook with, crisping our dough suitably for a few minutes, before we pulled it out, added sauce, cheese, and toppings, and putting it back in to let a five minute cooking process finish it.

That was it, with the 45L Combi Oven being more than enough to handle the job of a lunchtime pizza.

We even made two of them, which delighted the office, until they realised we wouldn’t be doing any more of these until we started reviewing more appliances (guess what we’ll be doing shortly).

Later on, the left over pieces were reheated using the most frequents microwave function in existence, and yes this worked just as well.

Credit goes to Samsung to its controls which are all easy to use jog wheels or dials. There are two buttons, but really, it’s all going to be handled with a flick of the wrist: the top dial selects the mode you’re going to use, while the second bottom one controls duration and other variables.

This simple combination of controls means you rarely have to reach for the manual, a problem that often exists when manufacturers try to bring in lots of functions without a lot of intuitive interface design.

Fortunately for Samsung, this works, and the simple graphics on the microwave are easy to remember, especially since there are notes underneath specifying what each does.

We didn’t get to spend as much time exploring every aspect of this appliance though, and one day would like to really look into how the automatic sensor cooking works. From what we hear, it’s based on picking up the surface and inside temperature from sensors inside the oven, changing the heat level and duration based on the information it reads.

One thing to be aware of with this microwave oven is the size: at 45 litres, it’s not small, and in our kitchen, took up more space than we expected. In some ways, you might have to position things around the oven, as the huge size makes it harder to work with, and would be an effective combination appliance for a small apartment or studio.

Still, it’s worth checking out if you don’t have huge requirements for an oven, and need both one of these and a microwave.

Samsung’s Convection-based Microwave Oven Combi (MC455THRCSR) can be found in stores with a recommended retail price of $899.