Culinary Lesson #14 - Knowing Your OvenSaturday, January 19, 2013
How many of you don't have the best of luck with the baking times that recipes call for? Whether this means cookies that take 20 minutes to bake rather than 12 minutes, or brownies that burn before the baking time is even half up, most of us have experienced some sort of oven frustration before. Sure, the problem could be the fact that you forgot an ingredient, which in turn threw off the whole baking process. But if you always seem to experience that your foods take longer than called for or finish baking faster than expected, you can (most likely) put the blame on your oven.
- The easiest way (but also least efficient way) is to just over or under heat your oven by a certain amount until your new oven thermometer (inside the oven) reads the temperature that you're going for. Once met, figure out the difference in temperature between what your outside dial shows and what your inside thermometer shows. Keep this final number mentally noted for the next time you go and bake something.
- If you want something a little more exact, start by heating your oven to a standard low temperature, like 275°F. After your oven has finished preheating, jot down what temperature your oven actually is inside. Open your oven door for a few minutes to let the oven cool down, and then repeat this process two more times with both a medium and high standard temperature (such as 350°F and 425°F). Take an average of your three differences and use the average as a guide in the future for the amount to over or under compensate for.
- If you're feeling extra
nerdyambitious, you could go one step further and create a graph to see what type of relationship you have between your outside and inside readings (linear, exponential, etc.). Using my graph below, I was able to create a condensed table for my oven (that's proudly posted) that states what to crank my oven to for 11 common values from 250°F to 500°F, using 25°F increments.