In the 20-plus years that I have worked as a culinary educator in the appliance industry, I have learned that there are some common issues that many people experience when getting to know their new ovens. In this post, I will review those issues and give you tips to achieve success with your oven cooking.
Why don’t we understand our ovens?
I have worked with many people over the years who were convinced there was a problem with their oven when it was really an issue of user error. I have also heard from countless service technicians how they often find the ”problem” oven they came to fix works perfectly, and the service call ends up being an educational call.
Cooking with a new oven is just the same as building any new relationship; there is a learning curve or familiarization process as you get used to how the new oven cooks. The thing to remember is that the recipe doesn’t reference the tools you are cooking with, so it’s important to understand the cooking modes in your oven and the best use for each one. In other words, a little education goes a long way to achieving success.
Why Do We Need Education with a New Oven?
Standard ovens are much larger nowadays and exposed heating elements are no longer used in electric ovens. Concealing the Bake element in the floor of the oven provides greater cubic capacity in the oven but heating the oven can feel slow, and results may be different from items cooked in a smaller oven with an exposed heating element.
Another thing to consider is that gas ovens generally have a more lively stronger heat than electric ovens. That means it’s even more important to pay attention to rack positions, temperature, and timing to avoid overcooking foods, especially baked items.
The oven User Guide is of course your best resource for learning about your oven, but I can understand why many people don’t bother. After all, it’s an oven, you turn it on to 350 degrees and put the food in to cook but there is more to it than that. Modern ovens feature a variety of cooking modes that are designed to enhance your cooking and each mode is calibrated to give the best results for different types of cooking.
For example, the Convection Bake and Convection Roast modes use the same heating elements, but Convection Bake is calibrated to provide more gentle heat from the top heating element while Convection Roast provides more intense heat for the searing and browning of larger cuts of meat and to evenly heat larger quantities of food.
I have provided in-depth information about cooking with these modes in these videos:
Common Issues When Cooking with a New Oven
One of the most common issues I have encountered when people are getting used to a new oven is that they purchase an inexpensive oven thermometer to monitor the oven temperature. The sensor that regulates the oven temperature is actually in the rear of the oven so will be reading a different temperature to a thermometer placed in the center of the oven.
A better test for accuracy is baking a packaged cornbread in a metal pan without changing anything in the instructions. If it bakes evenly then you are off to a good start, if not you can take a photo and provide visual evidence to the service technician.
Uneven baking seems to be the biggest issue for people getting used to a new oven. To ensure even baking first review the rack positions recommended by the manufacturer for each mode and also the type of pans and the placement of the pans. This is especially important when baking on multiple racks in the Convection or Convection Bake mode.
Your New Oven is Not Your Old Oven
Never place an oven liner on the floor of the oven and never cook directly on the floor of the oven, always cook on an oven rack. Because the heating element is no longer exposed there is less risk of foods boiling over in the oven.
Some ovens feature a Fast Preheat option to bring the oven to temperature faster or consider using the Convection Bake or Convection Roast mode for more even heating and better performance.
While it’s true all ovens cook a little differently, modern ovens overall perform very well. So, take the time to build a good relationship with your oven; take a few minutes to think through which oven mode will work best for the food you are cooking; use the right rack position and the right pans; and always check the food for doneness in advance of the recipe time until you understand how your oven cooks.
Stay Tuned for my next post that will cover Convection Cooking Tips for Gas ovens
In the meantime, visit my Convection Recipe page for recipe ideas for your next meal. Recipes are organized in categories and provide detailed instructions for success when cooking in Convection.
Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast