Is Your Oven Correct? (Why It’s Important To Calibrate)
“But what I need a thermometer for? The recipe says x degrees and I put the dial on x degrees”.
Yes, this was something that I did myself for years, until one day I decided to put an oven thermometer into my oven and was shocked at the results.
You see, oven thermometer dials are just suggested ranges, and if (as was my case) your oven has lost its calibration or ability to auto-regulate, those temperature ranges may be fluctuating dramatically during the baking process from what the number on your dial says! In my case, I found out that my oven (several years ago) was varying from 25 to 50 degrees higher than the number on the dial. It was definitely time to call in the repairman, who quickly blamed a faulty thermostat and remedied the issue.
Since then my trusty oven thermometer has not left its lodging place on the second row of our oven and the consistency of my efforts (especially where baking was concerned) has left the responsibility for my efforts squarely on my shoulders, where it belongs!
However, it doesn’t stop there. Once you have determined that your oven temperature is correct there is still the little matter of “hot spots”. Ever wondered why many recipes ask you to rotate your oven dish or baking tray half way through? This is because ovens rarely heat evenly, and rotating them helps to balance the cooking process. If you want to find out exactly where your oven’s hotspots lie I recommend putting slices of white bread into an even grid on a baking tray into a preheated 350ºF oven for 18 minutes. The coloration of the slices will reveal to you how your oven heats by default. This can help you immensely in the future!