Have you ever felt like your oven has a mind of it's own? Does it seem to have "hot spots" that cook things more rapidly in some parts of the oven than others, or perhaps there seems to be no discernible difference between heat settings?
I'm Jeff Potter, author of Cooking for Geeks, the book that reveals the scientific principals behind everything to do with the foods you love to cook and eat. In this tutorial, I'm going to give you a few quick oven hacks that you can use to make sure that your oven is working as efficiently as possible. Yes, it may seem that an oven is not exactly high science, but you'd be surprised - a few simple science-based tricks can go a long way to taking your oven from good to great.
So read on…to achieve perfect oven nirvana, there are a few easy steps you can take.
Step 1: Use a Baking Stone
Place a natural stone baking sheet (or a pizza stone) into the oven. Yes, it will take your oven longer to heat up with the stone, but it will stay warmer when you finally put your food in.
Step 2: Check the Temperature
Something as seemingly simple as a 20 degree temperature difference can completely ruin certain dishes, so it pays to periodically check to see if your oven really is at 350 degrees when it says 350 on the dial or display.
If you don't have a reliable thermometer that you can put in your oven, here's a little sciency trick that you can use.
Place a little pile of sugar on a piece of tin foil, and put it in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. At that temperature, sugar should not melt in 15 minutes.
Now place roughly the same amount of sugar on another piece of foil and put it in the oven at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. At that temperature, the sugar should melt. If both of these sugar tests come out right, you can be confident that your oven is working like a charm. If not, well…you may have just found the reason you are constantly burning the casserole or serving undercooked turkey at Thanksgiving.
Step 3: Keep Your Oven Clean
Your oven's cleaning cycle is more than just a cleaning tool; it's like an insurance policy against uneven heating. Food splatter builds-up over time, and that build-up changes the way that your oven reflects infrared heat. Keep your oven clean for the most effective and consistent reflection of heat. Your baking will thank you.
Step 4: Check Out the Book!
This little life hack can be found on page 35 of Cooking for Geeks. For more life-hacks, cooking tips, and delicious recipes, check out the book by reading two chapters for free!
For more profoundly sciencey gastronomic delights, subscribe to my YouTube channel.