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So as the summer winds down and Fall approaches on comes the the oven. So I thought this would be the perfect time to talk oven with you all. Perhaps not the most exciting topic, but when it comes to baking knowing your oven is CRUCIAL! And I’ve put together some handy dandy tips to help you out. Because if you know your oven, you will automatically become a better baker.
Now I’ve lived in my fair share of apartments and so I haven’t always been able to control the quality of the oven I was using. It wasn’t some fancy stainless convection oven. More like “why is this thing still turning on! Just die already!” But I had to make do. With that being said, I had to get to know my oven real well.
Tip #1: Invest In An Oven Thermometer!
You know the scenario. You whipped up the perfect chocolate chip cookies ready to be baked up into absolute perfection. You pre-heat your oven to the recipe’s called for temperature 350F. Ten minutes later, those cookies are burnt. Or underdone. Or basically less than perfect. What the heck? You know you followed the recipe perfectly! Unfortunately now matter how perfect that dough was, can’t overcome an oven that isn’t calibrated quickly. It says it’s 350F, but is it really? My last oven was always automatically a few degrees less. The only way you can guarantee your oven is really the temperature you set it at is to buy an oven thermometer.
I bought and use this oven thermometer. Simply place it in the middle of your oven and once your oven says it’s preheated then check the thermometer. Does it also read 350? No. Then adjust accordingly. My last oven I always had to set to almost 25 degrees more to ensure it really was reading 350F inside. An oven thermometer is a cheap investment that can make a world of difference!
Tip #2: Find Your Hot Spots!
A hot spot huh? Hot spots- meaning certain areas of your oven will be hotter than others. For example, the cupcakes in the back will cook quicker than the cupcakes in the middle. Knowing where your hot spots is key. Here is an easy trick to do that:
On a cookie sheet, line up white pieces of bread to fill the cookie sheet. Turn your broiler on and place the cookie sheet in the oven. Keep a close eye on the bread, when they start to brown, take them out and compare. Are some pieces darker than others? For me my hot spots are in the back of the oven.
How to remedy this? Rotate your pans halfway through baking.
Tip #3: Remember the 5 minute rule!
So you decide to try out a new recipe you’re super pumped about. Only to find an hour later, you take the (bread, cookies, brownies) out to find they are burnt! What the ?!? The recipe said it would take 25 minutes! So what happened? Well every oven is different. Unfortunately I can’t come over and bake with you. I would. I’ll bring some coffee. It would be great. However, since I can’t all I can do is tell you set your timer to 5 minutes less than what the recipe calls for. I call it the 5 minute rule! (ok I don’t think I can say I came up with that)
But when you are trying out a new recipe, I always set my timer for 5 minutes earlier than what the recipe calls for. What bakes in your oven for 25 minutes, might take 20 minutes in mine. Remember rule #1? Keep that in mind when someone told you it took them 25 minutes in their oven. By setting my timer earlier, puts me in control of the baking. I can take it earlier, leave it for longer, or whatever I think my (insert baked good item here) needs.
Tip #4: Clean Yo’ Oven.
Ok cleaning your oven. Dreaded oven cleaning. I hate it. I know you do too. However, did you know a dirty oven can lead to uneven baking? It does. Think about it…those shiny surfaces in your oven help to reflect the heat to your food. So if your oven is dirty with caked on food, grease, you name it- all of that heat gets absorbed as opposed to being reflected. So uneven baking. No good folks. So if you’re thinking you can’t remember the last time you cleaned your oven, I’m with you. But now you have some motivation. Clean ovens = consistent results.
Three ways to clean your oven:
Method #1: Use the self-cleaning feature on your oven.
This method does take hours and perhaps is not the most environmentally friendlies approach. But you can leave the self-clean on, and hours later you will have a clean oven. Not to mention a warm house too.
Check your oven out, I bet it has a self-cleaning feature (unless we are talking oven circa 1950 it should). And you might be thinking Oh that’s what that button does! It’s ok if you’ve never used it- I’m not judging.
The self-cleaning feature will take a few hours to work. The oven door will lock for safety- because the oven is going to reach an internal temperature of about 900 degrees! Yea, like I said a warm house. I do not recommend you turn your self-cleaning oven feature on and then go shop for a few hours.
Method #2: Use a store-bought oven cleaner.
I prefer this method. It gets the job done a lot easier and faster. Simply spray your oven cleaner as the bottle suggests, and then leave for the time the cleaner calls for. Go back, use a towel, sponge, or dirty old t-shirt if you want- and simply wipe up all that stunk on gunk. That’s it! I just cleaned my oven a couple weeks ago- took me a half hour tops. If you have some seriously stunk on gunk this spray and wipe method make a take a few times. The more you clean it though, the easier this job becomes!
Method #3: Use a homemade oven cleaner
This is by far the safest and most environmentally friendly way to clean your oven. I got this “recipe” for a homemade oven cleaner from The Kitchn, which includes step by step photos if you want to check that post out!
But otherwise to make your own cleaner all you need is: Baking Soda, Water, and Vinegar.
Simply make a paste with 1/2 cup of baking soda and a few tablespoons of water. Spread this paste all over your oven (remove your oven racks). Allow it to sit overnight (or up to 12 hours). Use a sponge to wipe down your oven and remove all the dried on baking soda. Then spritz the oven with vinegar. The vinegar will react with the baking soda. Then simply scrub the oven down again one more time to remove the rest of the residue. There you go- clean oven on the cheap!
A few items you may need to get to know your oven better. These are affiliate links which will redirect you to Amazon.
So there you go! Knowing your oven will in the end definitely help you to be a better baker! If you liked this post, then please leave a comment below!