Oven preheating - words from an expert

calilooMarch 8, 2012

I really like following Dorie Greenspan and her blog. She is absolutely delightful IMHO. Anyway, I thought this was particularly informative and worth sharing with you all....

Preheating Your Oven: Count to 3 and Be Patient

March 08, 2012

IâÂÂve always had an inkling that when the oven light turned off, telling you that the oven had reached the temperature youâÂÂd set it to, you werenâÂÂt supposed to slide your cake in immediately. But I couldnâÂÂt tell you why I was inkled or even what it was that had me inkling. It just didnâÂÂt feel right and so I always waited awhile.

Yesterday, I not only learned that my hunch was right, I learned why. And I learned it from experts, the Viking crew that had come to tune-up my range.

Mr. RepairMan explained that ovens cycle on and off to maintain an average temperature. I knew this. And that some ovens cycle further up and down from the desired temperature than others. And that some cycle more frequently than others. I knew this too. I also dreaded it because, as a cookbook author, I knew that every time I wrote a baking recipe I was jumping into the danger zone. With so many variables going into maintaining an even temperature, how could I be sure that your cookies would bake in the same 10-to-13-minute range as mine.

In fact ��" and I digress here ��" thatâÂÂs why cookbook authors give time ranges. ItâÂÂs also why we give visual clues like: bake until a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean; or until the muffin is springy to the touch; or until the cookies are dark brown around the edges and pale golden in the center.

ItâÂÂs also why I always urge you to get to know your ovens and, most important, to learn to trust your own good judgment.

Back to the oven and the tune-up. Mr. RepairMan said that when the oven light goes off for the first time, the oven is hotter than the temperature itâÂÂs set to. For example, he explained that my oven swings plus/minus about 25 degrees F. So, if I set it for 350F, it might go up to 375F and then, when it dips down to 325F, itâÂÂll heat again and go back to about 375F, keeping the average at 350F. But when it first preheats, itâÂÂll go as high as 400F. According to Mr. RepairMan, the oven hits its stride and keeps the most consistent temperature after it has cycled on and off three times.

In practical terms, this means: Be Patient!

When you start to gather your ingredients together and measure them out for your mise en place, thatâÂÂs the time to turn your oven on.

Writing this, IâÂÂm remembering that âÂÂin the old days,â recipes used to say things like: âÂÂPreheat the oven for 20 minutes.â I havenâÂÂt seen that in ages, but I think that if Mr. RepairMan had a say, every recipe would start that way again.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dories blog

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I just read a bread recipe earlier and it instructed to preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Then make the bread, let it rise form into rolls rise again, and bake. Man that oven would have been heating at 400 degrees for 2-3 hours with nothing in it!

I try and let it cycle, but I'm not always patient enough. I certainly didn't know that it would pre-heat to a higher temperature.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 7:25PM
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I keep an oven thermometer in the oven so that I know what the temperature is at any particular time. In my old oven in Venice, I could never get the oven above 375F, and so I could not really cook pizza in it. When I used to cook for my father at his deer hunting lodge, I had a wood stove, and so the temperature varied wildly.


    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 1:59AM
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