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Kitchen Equipment

How do I calibrate an oven?

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An easy way to test the oven temperature if you do not have a thermometer is to bake a standard box white cake mix. Follow the package directions. If the oven is operating properly, the cake should be done and evenly brown in the time indicated in the instructions. In addition to the oven temperature other conditions may cause poor baking results. These include: 1) If using only one rack for baking, use one of the middle two rack positions. If using two racks at the same time, use the top and third rack down or the second and fourth rack from the top. 2) Place pans on the same rack so they do not touch each other or the walls of the oven. 3) When using two racks, stagger the pans so that any one pan is not directly above another. 4) The finish of the pan will affect browning. Dark, dull or rough surfaced pans will absorb more heat and result in more browning and a crisper product. Shiny, smooth pans tend to reflect heat and give a less brown, less crisp product. 5) When glass utensils are used in baking, lower the oven temperature by 25 degrees F. Glass utensils absorb heat more slowly than metal but tend to hold the heat longer. 6) Preheat the oven for 10-15 minutes when indicated in the recipe. 7) Aluminum foil should not be placed on the bottom of the oven, completely cover a rack or be placed on the rack touching the pan. If used for a spill catcher, it should be only slightly larger than the baking pan and placed one rack below the baking pan to allow for air circulation. 8) Avoid opening the oven to check on doneness until the minimum baking time stated in the recipe has elapsed. If the recipe does not give a baking time range then avoid opening the oven until there is only ten minutes left to the baking time. Each opening of the door causes a drop of 25-30 degrees F. PREPARED BY: Angela M. Fraser, Ph.D., Associate Professor/Food Safety Specialist, and Carolyn J. Lackey, Ph.D., R.D., L.D.N., Professor/Food and Nutrition Specialist, North Carolina State University (August 2004)

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