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Convection Ovens


CitrineDC
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Hi everyone!

First time poster here. I have access to a convection oven (Jennair). I haven't used it much, except to make a roast chicken (pre-heat wave day, of course!). The skin turned out crispy, but I'm not sure if this was due to butter, brining, or the high heat I used.

Does anyone have any experience in using convection ovens? Do I need to alter a traditional recipe, like you do for high-altitude cooking? Thanks for any feedback.

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Hi everyone!

First time poster here. I have access to a convection oven (Jennair). I haven't used it much, except to make a roast chicken (pre-heat wave day, of course!). The skin turned out crispy, but I'm not sure if this was due to butter, brining, or the high heat I used. 

Does anyone have any experience in using convection ovens? Do I need to alter a traditional recipe, like you do for high-altitude cooking? Thanks for any feedback.

I looks like you have discovered what is great about the convection. The hot air moving across the bird, or any piece of meat, helps to create that nice crisp skin. Convection mode is also great for quickly roasting vegetables.

You should not need to alter your recipes, but things do tend to cook a bit quicker when in convection mode. One thing you may notice is that the oven may automatically adjust the temperature when in convection mode to compenstate for the quicker cooking time.

Should you do any baking or otherwise you will want to use the oven in normal mode.

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I looks like you have discovered what is great about the convection. The hot air moving across the bird, or any piece of meat, helps to create that nice crisp skin. Convection mode is also great for quickly roasting vegetables.

You should not need to alter your recipes, but things do tend to cook a bit quicker when in convection mode. One thing you may notice is that the oven may automatically adjust the temperature when in convection mode to compenstate for the quicker cooking time.

Should you do any baking or otherwise you will want to use the oven in normal mode.

Hot air, huh? Maybe I guess I should have titled this topic "Convection Ovens: Just a Lot of Hot Air?" Apparently, the answer is yes.

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A second benefit is more even temperature distribution. Those with conventional ovens, especially old ones, know the heartbreak that can be hot and cold spots.

What's the best way to test for that? Might as well see what the 'new' oven is up to.
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Never really thought of testing it. Get an oven thermometer. Move it around and compare to the dial.

Just from experience, I know that the right side of my oven gets hotter than the left, not to a serious degree, but enough that it makes sense for me to rotate food.

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What's the best way to test for that? Might as well see what the 'new' oven is up to.

Make a half sheet pan of cake or cookies and see how evenly it cooks. One thing to help keep the heat more evenly distributed is to put a pizza stone on the bottom shelf and keep it there all the time.

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Make a half sheet pan of cake or cookies and see how evenly it cooks.  One thing to help keep the heat more evenly distributed is to put a pizza stone on the bottom shelf and keep it there all the time.

I do the pizza baking stone trick. It's really cool to see how clean it gets after running the self-clean.

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I do the pizza baking stone trick.  It's really cool to see how clean it gets after running the self-clean.

I have never left the stone in there for the clean cycle as I thought it might break. What type of stone do you have?

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I have never left the stone in there for the clean cycle as I thought it might break.  What type of stone do you have?

It's a big heavy round one. I have no idea of the make or model. In my last house, I couldn't use it because it wouldn't fit in the oven. I doubt that the oven on clean cycle get's anywhere near the temperature of the kilns they fire those things in when they manufacture them.

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It's a big heavy round one.  I have no idea of the make or model.  In my last house, I couldn't use it because it wouldn't fit in the oven.  I doubt that the oven on clean cycle get's anywhere near the temperature of the kilns they fire those things in when they manufacture them.

True, but I had one break on me while the oven was set on bake at 550F. There was nothing on it and it was not wet. I guess some oil from its last use seeped into the pores and caused the crack.

Edited to actaully add a comment... :lol:

Edited by mdt
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What's the best way to test for that?

You could do it in a way that's similar to the way I finished a steak in the oven once.

Take two All Clad saute pans (or any matching pans with metal handles) and place on the wire rack on opposite sides of the oven with the handles pointing towards you. Set oven to 500 degrees. Once the oven comes to temperature, open oven and grab the handles with your bare hands.

Compare hands. :lol:

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You could do it in a way that's similar to the way I finished a steak in the oven once.

Take two All Clad saute pans (or any matching pans with metal handles) and place on the wire rack on opposite sides of the oven with the handles pointing towards you. Set oven to 500 degrees. Once the oven comes to temperature, open oven and grab the handles with your bare hands.

Compare hands. :lol:

;)

dial 911 BEFORE you test. Your screams should say it all :P

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Not to sound like Heloise or the editors of Cook's Illustrated, but put a pot holder on the edge of the stove or the handle of the oven and leave the potholder resting on the handle of the hot pan as a reminder that it is hot.

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Not to sound like Heloise or the editors of Cook's Illustrated, but put a pot holder on the edge of the stove or the handle of the oven and leave the potholder resting on the handle of the hot pan as a reminder that it is hot.

Yes, but if everyone on this forum did sensible stuff like that this whole website would be a crashing bore :lol:;):P

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Not to sound like Heloise or the editors of Cook's Illustrated, but put a pot holder on the edge of the stove or the handle of the oven and leave the potholder resting on the handle of the hot pan as a reminder that it is hot.

Alternatively, you could do what I did -- learning through aversion therapy.

After I sent myself to the emergency room two months ago with second degree burns on my palm, I don't think that I will ever grab a pan that has been sitting in a 400 degree oven with my bare hand again.

Edited by JPW
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Alternatively, you could do what I did -- learning through aversion therapy.

After I sent myself to the emergency room two months ago with second degree burns on my palm, I don't think that I will ever grab a pan that has been sitting in a 400 degree oven with my bare hand again.

Oh yeah, just wait until you are in a rush...

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Pretty generic burn story, but funny because of the sheer idiocy involved.

I had a perfect Calphalon-handle-shaped burn on my palm from grabbing the pan from the oven without a towel or mitt a few days prior, so you'd think I'd have learned my lesson.

So I'm cooking a nice steak and put it in the oven to finish. I'm still getting my steak-timing down, so I have to do a lot of checking to satisfy myself that the steak is indeed making progress. I'm being VERY consious of my need to not mutilate my hand any further, so I do a few cycles of "Get towel, pull pan out, poke steak, think for a minute, put steak back". Fine, no problem. Open oven, get towel, pull pan out, test. Open oven, get towle, pull pan out, test. Getting there. Open oven, pull pan out AAHH, DAMN it!! Jeeze....alright, steak is done, at least. If I remember correctly, I probably caved and sliced it open. Put on stove. Throw in garlic, shallots. Take towel, jiggle pan a little. Open wine, deglaze. Take towel, jiggle pan. Wait a bit, jiggle pa- GRAAHHh!! SON OF A!!

.....came out well, though.

Edited for glaring grammatical error. Edited for content, and to run in the time alotted.

Al: Been there, done that. Not sure what it said about the condition of my oven, though. Edited by shogun
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I have a bit of experience with convection ovens, and can offer some info/advice. (Sorry if this sounds like an educational spot!)

Convection ovens work better and faster than radiant ovens because of the fan blowing the air around the food. This blowing (or moving) air speeds up the rate of heat transferance, just the same way you experience the wind chill in winter. (You get colder faster when the wind is blowing in winter, and the temp feels much colder, hence the weathermen will say "it's 25 degrees out folks, but with the wind chill factor, it's really like 11 degrees!"

The blowing of the heated air does several things to food: the skin of your chicken renders its fat faster, thereby cooking more quickly and making the chicken juicier (longer cooking = more dried out chicken). The sugar in your veggies carmelize faster as well, therefore making the outside crisp, the inside more deeply flavorful. And your pie crusts and croissants release their steam faster, therefore rising higher and also becoming more flaky. So... the following is not true:

Should you do any baking or otherwise you will want to use the oven in normal mode.

As a matter of fact, the real success and more common use of convection ovens IS for baking. I don't know a bakery that doesn't use convection, whereas lots of regular kitchens (professional, institutional, restaurant) don't necessarily have convection ovens. In addition, baking quantity is much more efficient with convection, because you can put a rack of cookies on every single shelf, and bake them all at once. (You can't do that in a regular oven, because the heat comes from the element in the bottom, and sometimes the top, leaving the middle uncooked, the top rack browned too much on the top, and the bottom rack of cookies burned on the bottoms...rotating your pans helps but is a PITA)

With a convection oven, not only do your cookies bake evenly, but likewise that effect of evenly heated air circulating will roast your Thanksgiving turkey better, browning it all over, not just on the top (like a conVENtional oven). One caveat though: with longer times in a convection oven, just as in any hot place, the longer in, the quicker your food will dry out, so three things are important: 1) shorter cooking time 2) often the temp is lowered anywhere from 25-50 degrees, depending on your type of oven -- more on that in a minute-- and 3) in the case of roasts, you definitely want to cover your meat for probably third-to-half the time, then remove and cook the rest of the time uncovered,and the skin will still get plenty crispy.

The one problem with convection's rushing air is when you have something delicate: like a custard or something you want the top to be perfectly smooth. The "wind" will make the surface ripple, and consequently not even. (That's when you use conVENtional or if the convection has a 2-speed blower option, you go with the lower speed.). If your oven is not impeccably clean, it will also blow black burn fragments/specks onto your lovely cheesecake. Also, when you use parchment, it of course will blow around, so you make sure you have a cookie in each corner of your last half-filled pan, or somehow weight down the egdes. If you are baking really delicate things like tuiles or choux filigree, you also have to be careful that the blowing paper doesn't misshape your tuile, or totally obliterate your swan necks.

Convection ovens have come a long way just in the past few years. The newest home models have a 'computer conversion system' built right in (you program it for what your recipe says, for instance cookies 11 min at 375 degrees, and it automatically calculates and converts the action to 9 min at 350 instead.) Each brand is a bit different, and the instructions will usually make recommendations, whether to cook lower and/or less.

True convection ovens actually have three elements, not two. The crummy/cheap convection ovens have two elements, and the fan just blows the existing air around. "True" convections, originated in Europe, (hence the term you sometimes hear, 'european convection' which is interchangeable with 'true convection') have the third element behind the fan, so it blows HEATED air. (This also explains why most gas convections only have 2 elements.)

If you are in the market for a convection oven for home use, there are so many fancy improvements just of late...they are better now than ever. Just be sure to do your homework and ask questions, particularly about how many (2 or 3) elements. Some models have a hidden radiant on the bottom, so you can cook your pizza right on the bottom, just like in a real deck oven in pizza places. I saw an amazing Gaggenau that had up to 10 different options! (things like switching between the elements, blower speed options, and steam release to get that crust on your baguette). New this year is TWO fans in the back, so the heat is EVEN MORE evenly heated and circulated throughout. I have designed/consulted on many home kitchens for over 20 years, and it blows my mind the improvements I see every year. I personally have a commercial countertop convection oven at home (leftover from a former business) that is about 5 yrs old (and it has the neato steam release), and I also redid my home kitchen 18 months ago. I of course don't have the big bucks that many of my 'residential clients' had (I live vicariously through them!), but I did get a double wall oven, with one unit convection...and I LOVE it.

Hope this helps.

(lesson now over! :lol: )

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What is this "self Clean" of which you speak?

I have no such thing on my oven.

Surely it must be a miraculous new invention!!!!!

It's also known as a "husband."

Really? Mine doesn't do that. Must be an older model. :lol:

I had a convection oven for 4 years (GE Profile) and never once used that function - although I was not baking then as much as I do now. When we get new wall ovens one will definitely be a convection.

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What simdelish said!

I have a GE profile double oven -- one of which is "convection" (I guess it's the two element kind) and it has a convection roast setting as well as a convection bake. Although I'm not a frequent baker, I do use that setting when I get the urge to make bread or a cake, and I use the convection roast all the time. Great for chicken, but works well with everything, except roast prime rib where I use a low-temp setting in the conventional oven -- but that's another story...

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Wow, this feedback is great, esp. Simdelish's input. I want to go home right now and stick my head in that oven (with the oven turned off--it hasn't been that bad of a day). Or maybe I'll just hunt down the original instructions.

Anyway, I am motivated to test some baked goods out this weekend. When I first heard the term convection oven, I thought it was "confection" oven, so I guess I wasn't too far off.

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A question for you die hard bakers (and cooks): just how useful do you find convection ovens to be?

When we moved into our current house 9 years ago, I re-calibrated a lot of recipes for convection oven. I then found that I really did not like the feature for some applications - specifically, cookies, cakes, and custards. Cakes, especially, seem to dry more on the edges before being done in the center. And even in a bain marie custards would curdle on top (never a problem when done in conventional oven).

On the other hand, I love it for roasting and braising.

What are your experiences?

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I agree, I use my convection infrequently (actually, I have 2, because my microwave is a combo)-I go back & forth between using the regular & convection for poundcake, the only thing I seem to bake with any frequency anymore, & w/ the convection, the cake is a bit underdone in the center top. One thing I like is that this oven (Kitchenaid Superba) has an easy convect conversion button, for meats, baked goods, & other (I don't think I've ever used other), to adapt times & temps.

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A question for you die hard bakers (and cooks): just how useful do you find convection ovens to be?

When we moved into our current house 9 years ago, I re-calibrated a lot of recipes for convection oven. I then found that I really did not like the feature for some applications - specifically, cookies, cakes, and custards. Cakes, especially, seem to dry more on the edges before being done in the center. And even in a bain marie custards would curdle on top (never a problem when done in conventional oven).

On the other hand, I love it for roasting and braising.

What are your experiences?

I use the convection feature mostly for roasting. I think it's very good for that.

In terms of baking, I've only made bread with the convection feature of my oven, which I got late last year, and I've liked the way that came out. It's tricky getting the timing down, though. A friend we visited yesterday baked a loaf of basic white bread in her convection oven and it came out perfectly. I took note of her timing, and I'm going to try that one. I would think cookies and cakes would be hard to get right, so I haven't tried them. I guess I lack adventurousness :)

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I have found convection ovens to work very well for my cakes. They cook even and fast (and for the most part) dont fall/cave in the middle. Nice and even baking for pies without browning out the pastry. And they bake fast of course.

But dont use convections for macarons (all of you pros know this already). There will be no frilly feet, they will dry out and the tops will surely crack.

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Our oven has a convection setting, which I have yet to use. Has anybody had any success using the convection setting to make pizza? I would think that convection would minimize the problem of the bottom of the pizza being cooked before the top.

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Our oven has a convection setting, which I have yet to use. Has anybody had any success using the convection setting to make pizza? I would think that convection would minimize the problem of the bottom of the pizza being cooked before the top.

We almost always bake/roast with convection. Sometimes you can even lower the temp setting by up to 25 degrees too.

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Our over-the-range microwave is making some sounds that lead me to believe its end is near, and I'd like to replace it with a convection model for making things like scones and biscuits without heating up the big oven. Does anyone have advice on a microwave/convection oven combo?

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The "sometimes" bit above is why I don't use my convection setting. Anyone care to share some specific stories?

The typical convection adjustment (my oven does it automatically) is to lower the set temperature by 25°F. The reason is that the fan distributes the heat evenly and therefore you don't need to have the temperature so high. I have not problems when I do any temperature sensitive baking. Roasting and such can be done at various temps and the convection helps with producing a more even final product. I think like anything else you need to get used to how specific equipment works.

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