Convection Oven | Baking 101
Learn how to use your convection oven for baking cakes, cupcakes, cookies, breads and a lot more! Prevent flop recipes and burnt cake tops in a convection oven by following these simple tips!
What is a Convection Oven?
Basically, a convection oven is an oven with a fan inside that helps in circulating air and keeping the temperature more steady; thus cooking the food faster. In a normal, standard oven, food is cooked through the standard convection – the warm air rising to the top and the cool air cycling toward the bottom. The problem with this is that food, especially baked goods, may tend to cook unevenly. So convection ovens are really quite simple in that aspect: They help bake or roast your food faster by using a fan to get the heat circulated more quickly and evenly.
How to choose a Convection Oven?
Not all convection ovens are made alike. “True,” “European,” “Pure,” and “Fan-Assisted” are just a few of the phrases thrown into the mix to confuse consumers about their ovens.
The results of your baked goods depends a lot on the particular convection oven you’re using. The best—and most efficient—convection ovens blow heated air into the oven cavity. This means they have a third heating element (in addition to the usual top and bottom elements in a radiant oven) located near or around the fan in the back of the oven. This element heats the air to a uniform temperature before it enters the oven cavity. In many ovens, the third heating element is covered by a baffle, or a panel, which channels air sucked in by the fan past the heating element and back out into the oven. Convection ovens without a third heating element generally cook less evenly. So make sure to really take your time with your research.
Most “true convection” ovens are those that you find built-in wall ovens or slide-in ranges, not counter top models. If you’re looking for the benefits of convection cooking, you should try to upgrade your range of wall ovens rather than buy a countertop convection oven. Full-size ovens generally have better circulation and ventilation, and they may include a filtering system. If, however, you’re short on space and looking for extra oven capacity or you cannot afford a wall oven, a counter top convection oven is your next best option! Some of the better models do have heating elements integrated with the fan. In fact, I use a counter top model myself.
Before you buy a convection oven, do find out if it has a third heating element. It really does make a difference. If not, going for a regular OTG is a better option (more on that in another post)
Most ovens are designed to let you turn convection on and off as you please. But some go further and allow you to use the convection element with just the broiler, or just the baking element, or with either of these heated to a lesser or greater temperature.
The Rule of Thumb
The general rule while following recipes is to decrease the temperature by about 25 degrees from what a recipe calls for. The way to best learn is to just start using it and to monitor the results and then adjust temperatures and time accordingly. You can read more about how I set the temperature in my convection oven and how to prevent burnt cake tops.
Some Convection Oven Models to choose from
Ovens listed here are just some that I researched before buying mine. There may be newer and better models available too. Please visit a store nearby to find out more!
Final Tips – What to do while baking in the convection oven?
So here’s a quick recap of what tips you need to remember while using your new oven.
- Can I use glass bakeware in convection oven? —– Certainly, if they are of a good quality and heat resistant. Borosil glass bakeware are great!
- Do I need special pots / pans for a convection oven? —– No. You can use aluminium, non stick, glass baking dishes that you use in regular oven. Just avoid Microwave pots and pans since they would burn in the heat. I will be doing another post on the types of pots & pans you can use in different types of ovens very soon.
- Do foods cook faster in a convection oven? —– Yes. Generally, it cooks 30% faster than a regular oven. However, the insides of the food may be uncooked while the outside continues to cook and ultimately burn. Lowering the temperature will help the browning process to even out, so that the food continues to cook through at the same pace. Hence, it is suggested that you reduce the temperature by 10-25 degrees and bake for the full time mentioned in the recipe.
- How do I preheat my Convection oven? —– You have to go through your manual to figure it out since every oven is different! But here’s a short post on preheating a microwave convection model.
- How to avoid burning my cakes? —– In most cases, lowering the temperature down by 10-20 degrees should help with even cooking. If you still get cakes that burn on the top, cover the pan with aluminum foil for most of the time. Click here to read a detailed post on how to prevent that fiasco! You cannot however do this trick for cupcakes or cookies. However, lowering the temperature works for them.
- How to Breads come out in a convection oven? —– Provided you have followed the recipe and kneaded your dough really well, breads come out just as well in a convection as in a regular oven. I prefer using an OTG, however since it has racks while my microwave convection does not.
- How to clean a convection oven? —– I will show you a great tutorial soon. But generally, you can use a clean warm wet towel to rub off the gunk from the oven.
- At what temperature should I bake my dishes? —– It really depends on the recipe. Generally, cupcakes, cakes, brownies are baked at a lower temperature (140-160 C) while breads, cookies bake at a higher temp (180-220C).
- Should I buy pure Convection oven or a Microwave Convection Oven? —– If you have the space and budget, I would suggest you buy them separately. However, I own a microwave convection and do most of my baking in it and it is great too. Just be sure to read the manual and understand the functions well.
- Practice, Practice & More Practice! It took me quite a few failed cakes and breads to get the settings right. Don’t lose hope. Keep making adjustments until you know your oven well enough!
Recipes to try in your Convection Oven
Read it all? Feel like you can tackle the convection oven now? 🙂 Great! Here are some really easy recipes for you to get started with… If you take care of all the points above, I promise you’ll have a successful baking experience!
- Cakes – Chocolate Sponge Cake, Chocolate Cupcakes
- Cookies – Chocolate Chip Cookies, Coconut Cookies
- Brownies – Chocolate Fudge Brownies, Rocky Road Brownies
- Breads – Pizza from scratch
Let me know your thoughts, questions & feedback! In case I missed any tip, feel free to share it with all of us! 🙂