Cooking for Love

Oven Basics 101

Learn how to better operate your oven and master it with these tips!

There are thousands of deliciously quick and easy recipes you can make with your trusty oven but there are probably a thousand and one more things that can go wrong if you’re not familiar with basic oven etiquette.

Don’t fret because we’ve got you covered! With these tips, you’ll be working the oven like a pro in no time.

1. Baking is a science and the right temperature is essential for pre-heating and cooking
Pre-heating the Oven

Ovens usually use electric coils which may take a little while to heat up so it’s best to pre-heat them a little longer than required to get the optimum temperature. While not entirely necessary, getting an oven thermometer would help!

Oven Thermometer

We’ve all been guilty of checking our bakes before they’re ready, occasionally opening the oven to see how they’re coming along. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, it’s best to avoid doing so! Opening the oven allows heat to escape, increasing the cook time and causing your oven to work extra hard to make up for lost heat.

If you’re planning on buying a new oven, do consider getting one with a fan! The fan helps to distribute the heat evenly, resulting in a constant temperature which will cook the food more efficiently.

2. Ovens have racks for a reason
Oven Pizza

The middle rack is mostly used while baking. Less prone to hot spots, it’s where heat is the most consistent allowing the food to be cooked evenly at a steady rate. When in doubt, the middle rack is the way to go.

Aside from the fact that hot air rises, the broiler is also positioned at the top of the oven. Due to this, the top rack is best used if you’re looking for a crisp surface for your bakes.

Being close to the direct source of heat, the bottom rack is ideal for bakes like pizza, which require exposure to intense temperatures in a short amount of time.

3. Use the right equipment to get the job done
Oven Cupcake

Metal bakeware is best used if you want more browning on the sides and bottom of your dishes. However, beware of dark-colored ones as it will absorb more heat and increase the possibility of charring your food.

If you want less browning, use bakeware with materials like glass, ceramic or silicone which conduct heat less efficiently.

4. Dealing with harsh temperatures the quick and easy way
Cake

If you find that the edges and surfaces of your food are browning at a faster rate than it is cooking on the inside, cover your dish loosely with foil. This ensures that the heat can still circulate and continue cooking the dish while at the same time protecting the top and sides from getting burnt.

The oven can sometimes create a dry environment, especially when working with such high temperatures, resulting in dry bakes and foods which are definitely not what you want! A quick and easy fix would be to introduce some moisture into the oven when you start baking. Pour a cup of hot water into an empty pan and leave it at the bottom of the oven to create some steam. This helps to retain the moisture within your food and prevent them from drying out.

Be it cookies, cake or roast chicken, food that has been prepped fresh out of the oven have a satisfyingly familiar aroma that is sure to make your mouth water. Use your oven well and treat yourself to healthy, delicious oven-baked goods every day!

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