My Bad Relationship

So I am having a few problems at home. I feel like I put in a lot of effort to make wonderful baked goods, and my baking partner just throws it back in my face. I am of course, talking about my oven. My hormonal, annoying, pain in the bum, unpredictable oven!



When Rick and I first moved into this house just over a year ago, I was so excited to use my new big oven. I would think "wow, I could cook an entire roast in that all at once!"
So I decided to make one of my famous Dorset Apple Cakes for us to munch on while we unpacked. Now what I haven't mentioned so far, but you may have been able to deduct from the picture is that it is a gas oven. I learned to bake, and have always since used, an electric oven. I have come to learn how different they are. The oven has a temperature dial on it, I turned it on and away we went. The cake seemed to take a lot longer than it usually would. I kept dip-checking it and eventually, I think it was nearly 45 minutes, the cake was cooked. Sort of, the top was not brown but the cake was at least no longer wet in the middle. So I turned the cake out, and my god! It was completely black and crispy and charred and cremated on the bottom. To quote Rick
"Wow I love how it's so burned and raw at the same time." Yeah cheers love of my life.
So I proceeded to do some research...and it turns out that gas ovens are weird! The heat comes entirely from the bottom (hence burned bottomed cake) and there are different heat zones in different parts of the oven. Yup, So instead of just chucking stuff in and leaving it, you actually have to do stuff. What fun.
Over the last year that I've been using this oven for baking I've picked up a few techniques for using a gas oven. I'm sure this is just common knowledge for many of you, but there may be a few of you who are new to gas ovens and if I can help you make your transition, then I will be a happy camper.


Five Tips for Baking with a Gas Oven

  •  Make sure you rotate, and move, and mix it up! When your baking wonderfulness is in the oven, halfway through make sure you rotate the tray. If you have several things in the oven at once, swap them around. Basically, the gas oven has hot spots. Some areas of the oven are hotter than others. (I just kind of assumed the whole oven was hot).So by rotating stuff round, you make sure it's all roughly evenly cooked.
  • Bake at the top! If you have your tray of cookies in the middle, what happens is the heat rises up and hits the bottom of the tray, bounces back down and kind of floats around and then stays at the top of the oven. It's a mess. What I sometimes do, and it really does help, I put another baking tray on the shelf below. This helps to protect the bottom of your baked goods (no more crispy bottoms) and directs the heat towards the top.
  • Experiment with different bakeware. It's really bizarre, at first I thought that one of the problems was my cheap baking trays. So for my birthday I got some really amazing, good quality baking trays. It improved the situation for cookies but not for certain cakes. I'd say experiment with different kinds of trays and baking tins to find what works for you. 
  • Get an oven thermometer. I found that my thermostat is not particularly accurate. It's not that much of an issue when you're doing a roast or a casserole, but baking is a science! Get yourself an oven thermometer and you might be surprised.
  • Keep the bottom clean! Cleaning my oven was not something I tended to do before...I know. Cringe. But now, what I find is that grease and crumbs can get into the holes at the bottom and prevent heat getting through at certain intervals....or burn and make your kitchen smell gank. It doesn't take long just to give the bottom a quick wipe over. (I'm not suggesting a full on oven clean every day, because that is a mission!)

These tips are all well and good, but at the end of the day every oven is different. Even two ovens that are the same brand can act differently. Build a relationship with your oven and get to know each other. Only then can you truly be a master baker.
Also this list is by no means exhaustive. Do you have any tips for baking with a gas oven? I need all the help I can get!




In closing, Bosun is convinced there is another little yellow dog living in the oven. He is constantly barking and pawing at the door! He is a spanner!



2 comments

  1. We always had gas at home, but I've never heard of a gas oven with a temperature dial! Ours always just had gas marks - 1 to 6. I had to get used to electric ovens after I moved to Germany, but electric ovens don't have the same temperature everywhere either! At my old place, cookies at the back of the tray baked much faster than those at the front. Now I have a fan-assisted oven and that really is the same temperature everywhere, as long as it's on the fan setting.

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    Replies
    1. I know, the temperature dial thing confused me at first too!

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