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Calibrating Your Oven

Inside the Oven

Ovens aren’t perfect. There are a lot of factors involved but if you’ve lived in your house for at least six months, you should be an expert on the idiosyncrasies of your oven. If a cookie gives a baking time of 12 – 16 minutes, you might always pull it at 12 while others may leave it to 16. I like to aim somewhere down the middle. My friend built a new house and a kitchen he calls “Kitchen Stadium.”  It’s quite impressive but every time I cook there, I have to relearn their oven which he claims is off by 50 degrees. This is an $8k range. Unbelievable. Oh, eight grand buys you two ovens actually. They’re both off.

Recently I read a post on eGullet about how ovens in professional kitchen were off and it made me think I better figure out what mine

So last night I took out an analog oven thermometer and set my oven to 350F. Then when the preheat light and sound came on, I checked the thermometer. It read about 325F. I thought wow, my oven is off by 25 degrees! I took out my Polder digital thermometer and stuck the probe in the oven and ran the wire out to the unit placed on top of my stove. I left it for about 10 minutes and came back. Now it read 367. My analog thermometer confirmed.

Adjusting my oven took about 10 seconds flat. I just hold down both the hour up and hold down buttons then press up and down for 5 degree increments. I couldn’t get –17 obviously, so I did –15. Then I tested it again and it was 352. Close enough!

Things I learned:

  • When your oven says it’s preheated, it really isn’t. Give it another 5 to 10 minutes.
  • When you open the door to your oven, the temperature escape. We all knew this but I was surprised at how much – 20 degrees in 5 seconds. More or less depending on how big of an opening.
  • Most ovens are probably off and that really affects your cooking. Use a thermometer!

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