Like many, one of my favorite things to do on a frosty wintry day is to bake. It warms the house, produces yummy treats, and makes everyone around me a little happier. But, there is one hiccup in the whole process—the convection button. If you’re like me, you’re not a professional baker and have yet to fully appreciate—or even understand—your oven’s convection feature. I have experimented with many recipes in the convection setting, and some have worked beautifully while others were baffling disasters. So, what is convection, and how does one use it effectively, or is it all just a bunch of overblown hot air? The following article from Michigan State University Extension sheds a little:
Convection ovens were created in 1967 by the Malleable Iron Range Company. When they first came on the scene they were thought to be a tool of a professional baker. Now with the many advances in technology, convection ovens can fit into most people’s budgets if they desire to own one. Using a convection oven is a personal matter of choice.
A convection oven uses a fan and exhaust to circulate and push air around the inside of the oven. A convection oven can be either gas or electric. Some newer ovens come with the convection option as a feature and others are simply countertop models. The fan and exhaust help keep temperatures inside the oven constant. This helps to reduce uneven cooking and hot spots within food. Bakers will also notice that a convection oven usually bakes their cakes at a faster rate and sometimes at a lower temperature than a regular oven. Cakes and roast do really well in a convection oven because they do not require moisture in the air like baking breads, cookies and certain cheesecakes.
A regular oven has air being blown and dispersed as well, however, it does allow for humidity to form within the oven.
Some Microwave ovens now offers a convection feature as well. These models use both microwaves and forced air to cook foods.
Some additional tips to help maximize your convection feature:
- When using convection, lower the oven temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Foods cook faster on the convection setting, so check them often or use the oven light.
- Don’t over-crowd the oven. Air needs to circulate.
- Use pans with shallow sides to maximize the foods’ exposure to the hot circulating air.
- Use convection for: roasting meats, roasting vegetables, sheet-pan dinners, casseroles, cookies, braises, granola, cakes (sometimes)
- Convection NOT RECOMMENDED for: cakes (sometimes), quick breads, custards, souffles