Whether you’ve gone out and splurged on a new oven that features some fabulous bells and whistles, or you’ve gained a higher end range through the purchase of a new house, there’s a good chance that you aren’t quite sure about how to use a convection oven, or even why you need one. So, we’re taking a top down look at this very popular kitchen innovation.
Traditional Radiant Cooking Vs. Convection Cooking
Before we get into how you use a convection oven, let’s start with why. Aside from it feeling like a fancy new, addition to your kitchen (admit it, that’s part of what drew you to it), convection cooking results in better results than you’ll experience from a traditional radiant oven. Think moist, faster cooking meats with perfectly caramelized exteriors, flakier pies, and more evenly baked cookies. Cooking nirvana, right?
How Ovens Work
Food can be cooked via four different methods: Radiant, Convection, Conduction, and Induction.
For the purposes of this article and to avoid the dreaded tl;dr syndrome (you’re welcome), we’re just going to talk about Radiant and Convection ovens.
Radiant Ovens –Traditional ovens (also called thermal ovens) use radiant heat for cooking. This means that the box (for lack of a better term) is filled with heat from a burner at the top and bottom of the oven. That indirect heat cooks whatever you put in the oven.
Convection Ovens –A convection oven uses the same principals of radiant oven cooking but adds a fan and exhaust system to distribute hot air over and around the food. This results in faster, more even cooking.
The improved performance of convection cooking is due to the way blowing hot air over the food works to accelerate the chemical reaction experienced by food when it becomes hot. Things like caramelization or the rendering of fats occur faster and more evenly, thanks to the drier interior of a convection oven.
How to Use Your Convection Oven
By now, you’re aware that convection cooking is faster (up to 25% faster, in fact). This means that you’re going to need to adjust the temperatures and potentially the cook times listed in any recipes you may be using. Most experts agree that setting the oven to 25°F lower and cooking for a shorter period of time tends to net the best results.
When baking cookies in your convection oven, you can feel free to place a pan on every rack. Since the air is circulated by the fan, even pans placed on the bottom rack will cook evenly without burning.
A convection oven is the perfect addition to your next kitchen renovation or if you’re just ready to update your appliances. While they may seem intimidating to use at first, once you get a chance to experience how efficient that are, you’ll never go back to a standard oven.
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