April 17, 2014

Questions and Comments About Convection Ovens

It seems lately that everyone is interested in convection cooking and that even though manufacturers have brought the technology to the simple toaster oven, many home cooks are still confused about how to use them.  The The Wichita Eagle fields some questions regarding convection oven use and has some simple advice.

I almost never use the convection option when I bake, because recipes never mention it. When I tried it — shortly after we got the new oven — the suggestion to lower the temperature didn’t work the way they said it would, and I prefer having temperatures I can rely on. What is your opinion of convection cooking? Should I keep trying to figure it out?

Unlike a traditional oven, a convection oven contains a built-in fan that intensifies the circulation of hot air, which evenly surrounds your food and speeds cooking. It is particularly good for cookies and pastries because the even heat promotes uniform browning and saves you from repositioning baking sheets midway through.

It’s also great, says cookbook author and frequent Post contributor Tony Rosenfeld, for getting that perfect crisp skin on a roasted chicken. He would know: He cooked hundreds for his book “150 Things to Make With Roast Chicken (And 50 Ways to Roast It).”

Convection baking is less successful, some say, for wetter foods, such as braises or casseroles, that you want to keep from drying out.

The degree to which the cooking is sped up depends on the model of oven and what you’re cooking. Recommendations vary, but most guides advise decreasing regular recipe temperatures by about 25 degrees and cooking times by 10 to 25 percent. One alternative is to cook at the prescribed heat but start checking for doneness early.

The best advice is to follow the instructions for your particular oven and to spend time learning what works and what doesn’t. If you like to follow recipes to a T, use the regular settings.

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