Having recently introduced the commerical induction plancha as a bespoke induction range configuration option, Target brings to you a guide on plancha cooking, explaining the differences between electric griddles, electric planchas and induction planchas.
THE DEFINITION OF 'PLANCHA COOKING' IS, TO COOK FOOD DIRECTLY ON A HOT OILED PLATE.
All three pieces of equipment listed above are typically hot metal plates used to cook food directly on. The type of metal plate will vary from each manufacturer of product, with each having different conductivity characteristics.
How the hot metal plate is heated will affect the characteristics of the plate surface, resulting in different outcomes when cooking.
The electric griddle most commonly uses rod elements for heating the griddle plate surface. This type of electrical element is the slowest to react to change in temperature setting and can deliver inconsistent surface temperatures, with hotspots where the element is directly below or in contact with the metal surface.
The electric plancha or French plancha, as it is sometimes called, typically uses a filament element for heating the plancha plate surface. Filament elements tend not to cover the entire surface of the plate and rely on heat dispersion to distribute heat across the surface. This results in graduated temperatures from hot to cool from the middle to the edge of the plancha cooking surface, a characteristic similar to the gas solid top.
Heat up times of the electric plancha from 20°C to 230°C takes approx. 20-30minutes. However, this temperature would not be consistent across the entire plancha plate.
The induction plancha uses the same type of coil elements as used with induction hobs. The induction coil element covers the entire plancha plate surface, optimizing operational efficiency by providing uniform heat distribution from corner to corner.
The speed of temperature control depends on the composition of metal used in the plate surface, however, is by far the fastest out of the three equipment types. The instant energy transmission from induction coil to plancha plate surface allows for fast start up times, for example;
The commercial induction plancha used in Target induction ranges heats up from 20°C to 230°C in just 4½ minutes on the single zone 3.5kW induction plancha and just 3 minutes on the single zone 5kW induction plancha.
Temperature Monitoring & Recovery
For consistent cooking precise temperature monitoring is required.
Electric griddle plates are typically manufactured from mild steel which is a cheaper material when compared to chrome plated steel or composite stainless steel. Mild steel has relatively poor conductivity properties and therefore is affected when cold produce contacts the surface, fluctuating cooking temperatures.
The rod elements used for heating the plate are thermostatically controlled and regulate the temperature of the cooking surface. Temperature regulation is electro mechanical, with a poor degree of accuracy and reactiveness, which results in users having to move product around the griddle as temperatures vary across the grill plate.
Quality electric plancha plates are manufactured from thick steel, this maximises thermal retention and minimises fluctuations in surface temperatures when cold produce contact the surface. However, the use of thick steel reduces the conductivity which means heat up and temperature change times are prolonged.
Surface temperatures are monitored using a temperature probe, situated between the plate and the element. However, the probe is usually unable to read the temperature at the centre of the element where it is hottest and can therefore be unreliable when it comes to temperature control.
The heat retention characteristics of the plancha plate minimises fluctuations in the surface temperature, therefore, there would need to be a dramatic drop for the probe to detect a change and bring the plate back to the temperature it was set at.
The commercial induction plancha plate is a composite of different metals. The induction plancha plates that are used in Target ranges are made up of steel and aluminium. Joining the magnetic characteristics required for use of induction technology with the heat conductivity characteristics found with aluminium. Combined, results in fast heat up times and rapid temperature control.
Having a thinner metal plate means the cooktop is more susceptible to plate temperature change, which occurs when cold food is placed on the plate, however this can be overcome with the use of RTCSmp® (Real-Time Temperature Control System Multi Point) providing precise temperature monitoring across the entire cooking surface.
RTCSmp® uses multiple sensors embedded across the plancha plate surface to detect a deviation in temperature as small as one-half degree, the temperature is then automatically adjusted in that specific area, providing a highly consistent, responsive, surface to cook on.
Not only does the RTCSmp® regulate the temperature of the cook zone, the technology also monitors continuously in real-time, the energy supply and the state of the components such as the induction coil. Should a malfunction occur, the integrated fault diagnostic system reports the malfunction instantly to the user.
Although seemingly similar to a solid top appliance, all three pieces of equipment featured in this guide are intended to be used for cooking produce directly on, without the use of a pan.
By using a pan on any of these pieces of equipment you run the risk of creating hot spots on the plate as heat can be conducted back into the surface which can cause plates to warp and can also create malfunctions in the technology systems beneath.
For those looking for an energy efficient alternative to the gas solid top, where multiple pans are to be used for cooking, a graduated slide top induction hob with single control is the best like for like option currently available on the market from Target Catering Equipment.
- The electric griddle offers an appliance with a surface that delivers inconsistent temperatures across the plate with long heat up times and provides limited temperature controllability.
- The electric plancha surface delivers gradient temperatures from the centre to the edges of the plate, suitable for varying product finishes. The plate characteristics result in longer heat up and temperature change reaction times.
- The commerical induction plancha surface delivers consistent temperatures across the entire plate surface, suitable for cooking quantities of produce to the same finish. Heat up times are minimal, and controllability is highly reactive.