My friend, Ruth, and I used to be so confused about how to cook in a convection oven. After all, we both grew up in areas where wood-burning stoves were common. So having an oven that blows hot air around was quite a breakthrough in cooking for us!
How a convection oven works
Ruth and I now understand the technology of a convection oven: A little built-in fan circulates hot air around inside the oven, which cooks foods quicker and more evenly than a non-convection (or regular) oven.
Most ovens these days have both options. You can select the fan option for convection cooking, or just use the normal oven option without the convector.
The benefits of convection cooking
Traditional cooking times can be reduced up to 25% in a convection oven. And food can be cooked at lower temperatures, sometimes 25-50 degrees less. (Sure beats piling wood on the fire!)
A convection oven can cook more food at once, which is pretty handy for the holidays. They’re also great for browning and roasting meats, so your Thanksgiving turkey can be juicy instead of dry and shriveled.
When to use a fan oven
Ruth says convection ovens are great for cookies, bread, and even pizza. But, I don’t like to make cakes in a convection oven. I always end up with the outside cooked but the center still gooey.!
I also don’t bake cheesecakes or cream puff shells with a convection oven. Likewise for custards and meringues. Somehow the delicate stuff just doesn’t turn out well.
Sometimes I forget to use my convection oven option, and spend more time cooking the traditional oven way than I need to. (But then again, as Ruth says, what’s my hurry?)
Well, because of convection ovens, I am considering deleting my favorite classic recipe for making a perfect roast from our family cookbook. It comes from comic Gracie Allen:
“Put a little roast and a big roast in the oven. When the little one is burned, the big one is just right.”