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Title:
EGG COOKING APPLIANCE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/162661
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An egg cooking appliance (10) having a first recess (11) for the receipt of water. The first recess further includes a first heater positioned below the first recess. A second recess (12) for the receipt of at least one de-shelled egg, further having a second heater positioned below the second recess. A temperature sensor is affixed to the second recess and distanced from the second heater. A processor is provided for the receipt of input from a user and from the temperature sensor for providing output to the first and second heaters, and a lid sized to substantially cover the first and second recesses and for passage of steam from the first recess to the second recess and for expelling steam from the appliance.

Inventors:
POWELL, Brian (22 Vicarage Drive, Shifnal Shropshire TF11 9AF, TF11 9AF, GB)
Application Number:
GB2019/050457
Publication Date:
August 29, 2019
Filing Date:
February 20, 2019
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
POWELL, Brian (22 Vicarage Drive, Shifnal Shropshire TF11 9AF, TF11 9AF, GB)
International Classes:
A47J29/02
Domestic Patent References:
WO2008068457A12008-06-12
Foreign References:
CN201230828Y2009-05-06
US6188046B12001-02-13
FR2655830A11991-06-21
US3590769A1971-07-06
US3704663A1972-12-05
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WILSON GUNN (5th Floor, Blackfriars HouseThe Parsonage, Manchester Lancashire M3 2JA, M3 2JA, GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1 An egg cooking appliance comprising: a first recess for the receipt of water, said first recess further comprising a first heater positioned below said first recess; a second recess for the receipt of at least one de-shelled egg, further comprising a second heater positioned below said second recess, said first and second heaters being either separate elements or a single continuous element below both first and second recesses; a temperature sensor affixed to said second recess and distanced from said second heater; a processor for the receipt of input from a user and from said temperature sensor for providing output to said first and second heaters; and a lid sized to substantially cover said first and second recesses and for passage of steam from said first recess to said second recess and for expelling steam from said appliance.

2 The appliance of claim 1 wherein the temperature sensor is spaced from the second heater to enable the sensor to sense the temperature of the recess without interference from the second heater.

3. The appliance of either claim 1 or 2 wherein the second recess is formed in a plate and the temperature sensor is distanced from said second heater by a distance greater than the thickness of the plate.

4. The appliance of any preceding claim wherein said first recess is of a size and said first heater is of a power to enable said appliance to produce steam delivered to said second recess for approximately up to 180 seconds. 5. The appliance of any preceding claim wherein said first and second heaters are approximately of equal power output, such as 500 W each.

6 The appliance of any preceding claim wherein said processor is configured to determine the presence or absence of a de-shelled egg in said second recess by monitoring the rate of increase of temperature detected by the sensor when power is provided to said second heater.

7. The appliance of claim 6 wherein said processor is configured to begin a preheat cycle when the appliance is activated by a user wherein the processor provides power to said first and second heaters to heat up the appliance and turns off power to said first and second heaters when the temperature detected by the sensor reaches a first predetermined temperature and/or controls power to said first and second heaters to maintain the temperature detected by the sensor at a first predetermined temperature, if the processor determines that no egg has been introduced to said second recess.

8. The appliance of claim 7 wherein the processor is configured to maintain the first predetermined temperature for a predetermined period of time and to turn off power to the first and second heaters if no egg is detected within that period of time.

9. The appliance of any of either of claims 7 or 8 wherein said processor is configured to initiate a boost, increasing the power supplied to said first and second heaters during or after said preheat cycle, to commence a cooking cycle, when the processor determines that an egg has been introduced into the second recess.

10 The appliance of claim 9 wherein, when the boost is initiated, the processor is arranged to calculate a boost time period which depends on the difference between a target temperature and the temperature measured by the sensor when the boost is initiated.

11. The appliance of either claim 9 or 10 wherein the boost causes the first and second heaters to heat the appliance so that the temperature detected by the sensor is greater than the first predetermined temperature.

12. The appliance of any of claims 9 to 11 wherein, on completion of the boost, the processor is configured to control the first and second heaters according to a predetermined cooking cycle.

13. The appliance of any of claims 9 to 12 wherein said processor controls the length of said cooking cycle as a result of the mass of said at least one de-shelled egg and user selected cooking characteristics of said at least one de-shelled egg.

The appliance of any preceding claim wherein said processor periodically terminates power to said first heater for regulation of steam generation from said first recess.

15. The appliance of any preceding claim wherein said processor is configured to receive the approximate size of the egg to be introduced within the second recess by a user and / or to receive an intended degree of cooking of said de-shelled egg by a user.

16. The egg cooking appliance of claim 15 wherein said processor controls power to said first and second heaters based upon said user-selected egg size and/or cooking preference.

17. The egg cooking appliance of either of claims 15 or 16 wherein said processor retains egg size and/or cooking preferences upon completion of a cooking cycle.

18. The appliance of any of claims 15 to 17 wherein said degree of cooking provides for a de-shelled egg to be soft poached, fully cooked or souffled.

19. The egg cooking appliance of any of claims 15 to 18 wherein said processor monitors the temperature of said second recess through said sensor and adjusts power to said second heater if an egg contained within said second recess differs in mass from the egg size received by the processor from a user.

20 The egg cooking appliance of any preceding claim wherein said sensor provides temperature information to said processor sufficient to enable the cooking appliance to know whether a de-shelled egg is contained in the second recess. 21. The egg cooking appliance of claim 20 wherein when said processor is configured so that when it determines that the second recess contains a de- shelled egg, it causes said first heater to increase the temperature of said first recess to at least 100° C. for the production of steam.

22. The appliance of any preceding wherein said first and second recesses are configured within a single plate or said first and second recesses are configured within individual plates, said individual plates being housed in a frame to enable said plates to be individually removed from said frame.

23. The appliance of claim 22 wherein said plate or plates is/are comprised of aluminium and said lid is comprised of stainless steel.

24. The appliance of any preceding claim wherein said first recess is shaped so that as long as there is water in said first recess, said water is always proximate said first heater.

25. The appliance of any preceding claim wherein said second recess is shaped so that when there is an egg in said recess said egg is always proximate said sensor.

26. The appliance of any preceding claim wherein said second recess is approximately 10 mm in depth and has a volume of approximately 100 ml.

27. The appliance of any preceding claim wherein said first recess is of a size to receive at least approximately 20 ml of water.

28. The appliance of any preceding claim arranged to produce steam for up to about 60 seconds from approximately 5ml of water placed in the first recess.

29. The appliance of any preceding claim arranged to produce steam for up to about 150 seconds from approximately 7.5ml of water placed in the first recess.

Description:
EGG COOKING APPLIANCE

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention is directed to an egg cooking appliance for the controlled and optimized cooking of eggs employing not only direct conductive heat but also by steam. Embodiments of the apparatus are capable of providing a user with a variety of cooking programs while optimising cooking parameters and minimising the expenditure of energy required to complete the cooking process.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The prior art has recognized that one can cook eggs using the combination of convection heating and steam. US 3,704,663 teaches an egg cooker of the skillet type having a central water compartment for generating steam for basting and a plurality of separate cooking compartments each of fried egg size for receiving fat or oil and the yolk and white of an egg. The device includes a removable cover which when in place is spaced from the open tops of the water and cooking compartments, whereby steam produced in the water compartment is directed to the upper surface of the eggs in the cooking compartments producing cooked eggs having the appearance and texture of poached eggs and the flavour of fried eggs. However, this skillet, being typical of prior art, provides for no controls recognizing the skillet is intended to be placed simply upon a cook top with the same energy source used for both cooking the eggs and converting water in the water compartment to steam or two heaters but devoid of controls. Such devices also have no means of dealing with eggs of varying masses or for dealing with cooking preferences. Commonly, the prior art teaches the use of a frying pan which may include sensors built within their handles but such devices have no steam controls, nor are they programmable.

Although the casual user may not give a good deal of thought to variables which can dramatically affect an end product, appliances of this type must either deal with such issues or the result will be anything but acceptable. For example, typical eggs have a mass from 50 g to 90 g requiring cooking times from 45 seconds to three minutes dependent on the cooking method. For example, a fully cooked egg takes longer to achieve than one which is soft poached. As such, if a user wished to have a fully cooked egg assuming that the egg was 50 g, the result would not be achieved if the egg was, in fact, 90 g assuming constant cooking parameters of power and time. In addition, the end result would vary greatly depending upon whether the de-shelled egg was loaded into a cold receiving plate in contrast to one which was preheated. When an egg is introduced to such a device, its temperature drops, which also affects the end result. Various prior approaches have also not accounted for certain safety issues. For example, a successful device must account for the steam generating plate being devoid of water and the egg receiving plate being devoid of an egg.

It is thus an object of embodiments of the present invention to provide an egg cooking appliance which addresses the deficiencies of the prior art.

It is still a further object of embodiments of the present invention to provide an egg cooking appliance which is programmable by a user as to the size of the egg or eggs to be cooked and desired end result such as an egg which is soft poached, fully cooked or souffled providing for repeatable results.

It is yet an additional object of embodiments of the present invention to provide an egg cooking appliance which is capable of operating while minimizing the power necessary to accomplish its desired results.

It is yet a further object of embodiments of the present invention to provide an egg cooking appliance that can be set to operate at a fixed period of time but employing an egg detecting protocol to control desired cooking results.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to an aspect of the present invention there is provided an egg cooking appliance comprising a first recess for the receipt of water, said first recess further comprising a first heater positioned below said first recess; a second recess for the receipt of at least one de-shelled egg, further comprising a second heater positioned below said second recess, said first and second heaters being either separate elements or a single continuous element below both first and second recesses a temperature sensor affixed to said second recess and distanced from said second heater; a processor for the receipt of input from a user and from said temperature sensor for providing output to said first and second heaters; and a lid sized to substantially cover said first and second recesses and for passage of steam from said first recess to said second recess and for expelling steam from said appliance.

According to another aspect of the present invention there is provided an egg cooking appliance comprising a first recess for the receipt of water, said first recess further comprising a first heater positioned below said first recess; a second recess for the receipt of at least one de-shelled egg, further comprising a second heater positioned below said second recess, said first and second heaters being either separate elements or a single continuous element below both first and second recesses a temperature sensor affixed to said second recess responsive to the temperature of said second recess and distanced from said second heater; a lid sized to substantially cover said first and second recesses and for passage of steam from said first recess to said second recess and for expelling steam from said appliance; a processor; a keypad providing user— selected output of egg sizes and cooking preferences to said processor; said processor activating said second heater for initiating pre-heating of said second recess; and said sensor providing temperature information to said processor.

The temperature sensor may be spaced from the second heater to enable the sensor to sense the temperature of the recess without interference from the second heater. The second recess may be formed in a plate and the temperature sensor may be distanced from said second heater by a distance of at least the thickness, twice the thickness or three times the thickness of the plate. The more the direct influence of the heater on the temperature measured by the sensor is reduced, the more the sensed temperature will reflect that of the recess and / or the temperature of an egg in the recess.

The first recess may be of a size and said first heater of a power to enable said appliance to produce steam delivered to said second recess for approximately up to 180 seconds. Said first and second heaters may be approximately of equal power output, such as approximately 500 W each.

Said sensor may provide temperature information to said processor sufficient to enable the cooking appliance to know whether a de-shelled egg is contained in the second recess. Said processor may be configured so that when it determines that the second recess contains a de-shelled egg, it causes said first heater to increase the temperature of said first recess to at least 100° C. for the production of steam.

Said processor may be configured to determine the presence or absence of a de- shelled egg in said second recess by monitoring the rate of increase of temperature detected by the sensor when power is provided to said second heater. Said processor may be further configured to begin a preheat cycle when the appliance is activated by a user, for which it may be provided with a user operable control. During the preheat cycle the processor may be configured to provide power to said first and second heaters to heat up the appliance and turn off power to said first and second heaters when the temperature detected by the sensor reaches a first predetermined temperature, or to maintain the temperature detected by the sensor at a first predetermined temperature, if the processor determines that no egg has been introduced to said second recess. Said processor may be configured to maintain the first predetermined temperature for a predetermined period of time, e.g. two minutes, and to turn off power to the first and second heaters if no egg is detected within that period of time. Any suitable time may be chosen. In one embodiment power is turned off after 30 seconds with no egg detection.

Said processor may be configured to initiate a boost, increasing the power supplied to said first and second heaters after said preheat cycle, or if the presence of an egg is detected during the pre-heat cycle, thereby to commence a cooking cycle, when the processor determines that an egg has been introduced into the second recess.

When the boost is initiated, the processor may be arranged to calculate a boost time period which depends on the difference between a target temperature and the temperature measured by the sensor when the boost is initiated. The boost may cause the first and second heaters to heat the appliance so that the temperature detected by the sensor is greater than the first predetermined temperature. This temperature may be at least 100 °C or at least 120 °C. On completion of the boost, the processor may be configured to control the first and second heaters according to a predetermined cooking cycle.

Said processor may be configured to receive the approximate size of the egg to be introduced within the second recess by a user and/or to receive an intended degree of cooking of said de-shelled egg by a user. The appliance may be provided with one or more user operable controls to enable user input of a size of egg and intended degree of cooked, for example a keypad.

Said processor may control the length of a cooking cycle and/or power to said first and second heaters based on user selected size/mass and/or cooking characteristics (such as soft poached, fully cooked or souffled) of said at least one de-shelled egg. Said processor may retain egg size and/or cooking preferences upon completion of a cooking cycle.

Said processor may periodically terminate power to said first heater for regulation of steam generation from said first recess.

Said processor may monitor the temperature of said second recess through said sensor and adjust power to said second heater if an egg contained within said second recess differs in mass from the egg size received by the processor from a user. Mass of the egg may be inferred from the measured change in temperature measured by the sensor when power is provided to the second heater.

Said first and second recesses may be configured within a single plate or within individual plates, which may be housed in a frame to enable said plates to be individually removed from said frame. Said plate or plates may be comprised of aluminium. Said lid may be comprised of stainless steel.

Said first recess may be shaped so that as long as there is water in said first recess, said water is always proximate said first heater. It may be sized to receive at least approximately 20ml of water. Said second recess may be approximately 10 mm in depth, and it may have a volume of approximately 100 ml.

The appliance may be arranged to produce steam for up to about 60 seconds from approximately 5ml of water and/or to produce steam for up to about 150 seconds from approximately 7.5ml of water placed in the first recess.

The lid may be arranged to lift slightly under pressure of steam generated during operation of the appliance, thereby to allow steam to be expelled from the appliance.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

In order that the invention may be more clearly understood embodiments thereof will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings of which:

FIG. 1 is a top plan view of the cooking appliance of the present invention devoid of sensors, heaters or controls.

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of the appliance of FIG. 1 taken along line 2-2 thereof.

FIGS. 3A-3C are top plan views of additional examples of the cooking appliance of the present invention devoid of controls.

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the example of FIG. 3C including the positioning of the lid thereon.

FIG. 5 is a schematic illustration of the process or controlled sequence carried out in employing the present cooking appliance.

FIG. 6 is a schematic layout of a typical two-plate cooking apparatus of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a cooking cycle graph to enable one to more readily visualize the operation of the present cooking appliance.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Certain terminology and the derivations thereof may be used in the following description for convenience and reference only, and will not be limiting. For example, words such as“upward,”“downward,”“left,” and“right” refer to directions in the drawings to which reference is made unless otherwise stated. Similar words such as “inward” and“outward” refer to directions toward and away from, respectively, the geometric centre of a device or area and designated parts thereof. Reference in the singular tense include the plural and vice versa, unless otherwise noted.

Turning first to FIGS. 1 and 2, appliance 10 is illustrated having first recess 11 for the receipt of water and second recess 12 for the receipt of one or more de-shelled eggs configured within a simple plate 13. In order to provide up to 180 seconds of steam production, recess 11 should have the capacity to receive at least 20 ml of water although, in most instances, a complete cooking cycle for a soft poached egg can be completed with only 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of water introduced to first recess 11 at the outset of a cooking cycle. Also, for the appropriate recess to receive at least one de-shelled egg, recess 12 should have a depth of approximately 10 mm and a capacity of approximately 100 ml.

The present appliance is configured to provide heaters below the first and second recesses as well as a temperature sensor below the second recess and which is spaced from the heater so as to properly sense the temperature of recess 12 without interference from the configured heating element. In this regard, reference is made to FIGS. 3A-3C and 4 as examples of such appliances.

In turning to FIG. 3 A, plate 30 is shown having first recess 11 and second recess 12. Elongate heater 7, such as a Bundy heater, passes beneath recess 11 to recess 12 and returning to and terminating beneath recess 1 1. Temperature sensor 4 is centrally located beneath recess 12. Recess 11 is configured within plate 17 and recess 12 is configured within separate plate 18, as compared to the single plate embodiment in FIGS. 1 and 2. Plates 17 and 18d are received within frame 19 to enable plates 17 and 18 to be removed from frame 19 for cleaning, replacement and servicing.

As noted in reference to FIG. 3B, plate 40 includes elongate heater 5 passing beneath first recess 11 which is separate from elongate heater 6 which passes beneath second recess 12. This provides for increased flexibility by enabling the independent control of heaters 5 and 6 when desired. FIG. 3C illustrates yet a further embodiment whereby two recesses 12 A and 12B are configured within plate 21 for the receipt of de-shelled eggs noting further that temperature sensor 4 A is located beneath recess 12A and temperature sensor 4B is located beneath recess 12B.

Appliance 50 is illustrated as cross-section 4-4 of FIG. 3C in FIG. 4. It is noted that first heating element 5 is positioned with respect to the geometry of first recess 11 such that as long as there is water in first recess 11, the water is always proximate to first heater 5. In other words, the water is always reduced to the heater. Second heater 6 positioned below and configured within a second recess 12 is distanced from temperature sensor 4 which can be, for example, a glass bead thermistor. Also note that the shape of the second recess 12 always locates the egg on the sensor. The temperature sensor 4 is positioned centrally with the recess 12 so that egg contained in the recess is always proximate to the temperature sensor 4. In other words, the egg (whilst liquid at least) is always reduced to the sensor. The sensor 4 is closer to the inside surface of the centre of the recess 12 than it is to the closest parts of the heating element 6. The sensor is spaced from the heating element by a distance which is at least three or four times the thickness of the plate 21 defining the recess 12. The appliance further includes lid 15 which can be hinged to plate 21 noting that bottom surface 23 thereof is spaced from the top surface of plate 50 to enable steam generated within first recess 11 to pass into second recess 12. In addition, in providing plate 50 as one composed of aluminium having a typical thickness of approximately 2 mm and lid 15 being composed typically of stainless steel, when steam is generated within first recess 11, some of said steam passes through gaps 24 and 25 as lid 15 slightly rises above the plate 21.

As mentioned previously, the present egg cooking appliance is capable of cooking de-shelled eggs to a user's preference efficiently and with the appropriate safeguards to ensure not only repeatability of an appropriate cooking cycle but also that energy is conserved and the device operates safely. In this regard, reference is made to FIG. 5.

A typical user will have at his or her disposal keypad 60 having switches 61, 62 and 63. Most eggs can be characterized as small, medium and large. The appropriate egg size is first selected by engaging switch 61. The user would then select the appropriate program which, in this instance, is composed of soft poached (shortest), fully cooked and souffled (longest). Once the desired selections are made, a user would then depress the“go” button 63. Triac 66 powered by the output of processor 65 begins activating Bundy heater 67 passing beneath plate 64 having recess 69 intended to receive one or more de-shelled eggs. A preheat temperature is achieved within recess 69 and will be maintained for a specific period of time, typically two minutes. It should be noted that the output from sensor 68 is fed to detector 71 providing feedback through 72 to enable processor 65 to know whether a de-shelled egg is contained within recess 69. Stated differently, the processor predicts the appropriate temperature for a set amount of energy input which is checked multiple times per second to determine if the temperature rise within recess 69 is appropriate for plate 64 devoid of any de-shelled egg. If the temperature rise within plate 64 is too great after the passage of a given period of time, power to heating element 67 is shut down but, if appropriate, power continued to be passed to heater 67 as the preheat cycle continues.

Once the pre-heat temperature is reached for example 80° C. water is added to the water section. Typically 5ml of water is enough to complete a poach program. The water does not cause a temperature drop on the sensor but the egg does.

As noted in reference to FIG. 7, a typical program of the present cooking cycles is depicted.

The boost control detects the egg by detecting a temperature drop, typically 3 degrees (or at least 3 degrees) in one second.

The BST or boost control calculates from the button settings the best delay (temperature drop) for the start of inputting boost power at 100%. The boost energy energises the heater to drive the plate temperature above 100° C. to start steam production. The boost calculation is (Tt-Ta)/3.5 or 80-30/3.5=14.5 seconds of 100% power, whereby Tt is the target temperature and Ta the actual temperature. Thereupon the cooking cycle continues with a period of power for a defined period, say 75% power for 15 seconds and a 2 nd cooking period of 35% power for 30 seconds to complete 45 seconds of cooking. This is suitable to poach a medium sized egg. A dwell or waiting time can be included with no power input so that the steam production is slowed down and the plate reduces in temperature to get ready for the next cooking cycle. The goal is to enter the dwell period with no water remaining.

If the next cycle starts immediately and water and an egg are loaded the button settings are used by the boost control and will allow a greater temperature drop in order allow a greater cooking time rise under the plate and hence a longer duration of steam production. The boost can start within one second or can be delayed by several seconds. However a 60° temperature drop is seen as about the maximum.

In addition to the previous cooking method there is a requirement to detect the egg when the egg and plate are at or near the same temperature because egg drop may not be detected. This could also happen by accident as the appliance has not been switched on. When the plate and egg are at or near the same temperature there may not be a 3 degree temperature drop.

The water and egg are loaded. The size and program buttons are selected, the go button is pressed. The processor inputs power to get to a desired pre-heat temperature. The sensor is monitored many times each second. Due to empirical testing and the heat transfer equation (Q=mass><Cxtemp rise). The temperature rise can be predicted that should occur without an egg in the egg plate. The pre-heat power needed is Tt-Ta/5=l00, e.g. 20/5=16 seconds. Power is input for a pre-heat after 5 seconds; without an egg in the plate the temperature should be at 45° C. If an egg is present the temperature will be noticeable lower. When an egg is detected the pre-heat phase is adjusted with a boost calculation of Tt-Ta/3.5, e.g. 100-35/3.5=18.6 seconds requiring considerably more power. After this boost phase the cooking phases 1 and 2 are entered as described previously, for example 75% for 20 seconds and 45% for 30 seconds.

There is another instance when low temperature detect is also needed, that is, when the water and egg are loaded during the pre-heat phase but before attaining pre- heat temperature. If the egg drop control does not detect the egg then the low level egg detect will detect the egg and a new boost calculation is made.

At an over temperature, say when the plate is getting towards 140° C. too quickly, the power input is reduced or stopped (for safety). This allows the temperature of the egg plate and heater plate to equalize noting that a plate temperature of 120° C. or above is sufficient to continue to make steam.

This discussions is made to exemplify one use of the present appliance and in doing so one should not conclude that the invention is limited to such cooking strategies.

Although not restricted to any particular parameters, for the sake of providing a second framework as to the time and temperature anticipated for cooking eggs of various sizes, reference is made to the following table:

In turning to FIG. 6, a typical schematic of a two-plate cooking apparatus is illustrated. Specifically, keypad 81 is available to a user enabling the user to choose the appropriate egg size (small, medium, large) and cooking program (soft, fully cooked, souffle). Information entered on the keypad is introduced to processor 80 which powers Triacs 82 and 83. AC power is introduced at 84 which powers the heating elements which are located beneath first recesses 87/89 which will contain water for conversion to steam and second recesses 88/91 which will be used as cooking zones which include sensors 92/93. Connection of the heaters to the AC power is generally made under recesses 87/89 as shown.

The appliance can also include a proportional control which checks how fast the second recess reaches its target temperature. If the sensor detects a too rapid rise in temperature, this is indicative of an egg which is smaller than anticipated causing power to be reduced by 50%. This is helpful when a user improperly enters the egg size at commencement of the cooking cycle. Either way, once preheat has been completed the cooking cycle is carried out as previously described whereby energy is applied to the first heating element to initiate steam production for a predetermined period of time by applying a“boost” followed by cooking at reduced power. What follows is a power interruption in order to slow steam production culminating in a dwell period as steam is produced by virtue of the temperature of the first plate.

As noted, souffleing the largest eggs requires 180 seconds of steam generation which usually involves conversion of about 10 ml of water to steam. With that in mind, the appropriate size of the first recess should be at least 20 ml in volume.

In summarizing the operation of the present appliance, a user would select the egg size such a small, medium or large and a program such as poached, fast or completely cooked or souffled. The processor is programed to remember the last user settings so that repeatability is enhanced although such settings can be changed at the desire of the user. Once the user presses the“go” button, the preheat cycle begins. Typically, if the device sits at room temperature (20° C.) power is supplied to the second plate in order to raise its temperature to the target of 100° C. However, prior to reaching the target temperature, after a few seconds, the processor will know whether an egg is in the second recess by recognizing the temperature increase based upon the power applied to the second plate through the activation of the second heater. For example, after five seconds, if there was no egg present, the second plate would be at 45° C. but if an egg was present, the temperature would rise to only about 35° C. Once it is recognized an egg is present, power is increased to both heaters. If the temperature rise of either the first or second plates is too rapid, the processor will reduce power by, for example, 50%. When the egg is detected, the processor calculates the temperature drop before the boost phase begins. After the“boost phase”, the cooking cycle begins. By way of illustration, if one was to have a medium-size egg for poaching, power is supplied at 75% of maximum for 20 seconds and 35% for 30 seconds. There is then a dwell time of 10 seconds as the first plate will continue to produce steam while cooling down which further assists in preparing for the next cooking cycle. As such, as to this example, the total cooking time is 60 seconds. This embodiment is capable of determining whether that is the case and in dealing with situations in which there is no de-shelled egg in the second recess prior to commencement. In use, a user selects egg size and program and presses a“go” button to start the preheat cycle. The system monitors plate temperature and, based upon this, determines that there was no egg detected. After reaching a preheat temperature of 100° C., the system maintains this temperature for two minutes and if no egg is detected, power to the second plate terminates. However, within this time period, an egg and water can be applied to the second and first recesses, respectively. In this case, once the preheat portion of the process is completed, the“boost” and cooking cycles are carried out as was previously described.

It is quite apparent from the above discussion that what has been disclosed is an appliance which can be used to cook eggs of varying sizes involving cooking programs which enables a user to repeatedly achieve desired results. This device removes all guess-work from the process. In doing so, the device recognizes whether an egg has been placed within the device initially when the egg and device are at room temperature or whether the device is devoid of an egg during a prescribed preheat cycle and adjusts the time/temperature profiles from preheat, boost to cooking while metering the appropriate steam production to achieve the appropriate end result.

The above disclosure is sufficient to enable one of ordinary skill in the art to practice the invention. While there is provided herein a full and complete disclosure of the preferred embodiments of the invention, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction, dimensions, relationships, or operations as described. Various modifications, alternative constructions, changes and equivalents will readily occur to those skilled in the art and may be employed as suitable, including alternative materials, components, structural arrangements, sizes, shapes, forms, functions, operational features or the like. Therefore, the above description and illustration should not be considered as limiting the scope of the invention, which is defined by the appended claims.




 
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