If, no matter how carefully you follow a recipe, your baked goods or oven dishes seem to regularly fail—they’re often either burnt or not fully cooked—it might not be you. In fact it probably isn’t. Your oven might be the one sabotaging your relationship with cooking.
Oven temperatures can wander very far from where they’re set, especially on older models. Take my 1950’s GE luxury liner of a stove. When I set it to preheat to 375° it, easily finds it’s way to about 410°-415°. Set it for 400°? Say hello to 450°.
I began suspecting that my oven ran hot very early in our courtship, but just how hot wasn’t clear until I finally thought to get an oven thermometer. That’s when I learned, scientifically, that my oven’s temperature varied by nearly fifty degrees, especially at high temps. Yes, five-zero! Fifty degrees is the difference between baking and roasting. A fifty degree difference will ruin the outcome of most recipes.
Once I removed the guesswork out of preheating my oven, cooking was fun. I was still free to meet cooking disaster in other ways, which I did (and still do), but at least it wasn’t wasn’t because the oven wasn’t at the proper temperature.
Oven thermometers are inexpensive and might be essential to your success. Knowing whether your oven runs hot or cold can really improve your cooking experience. Check yours. And report back…we’d love to know if yours is accurate or not.
Co-Author of Garden Candy Basics