Even if you're not a huge baker, you can't deny that nothing is more satisfying than filling your home with the scent of freshly-baked cookies, brownies, or homemade apple pie. But if you have a new oven, you may naturally feel more nervous about your baking not turning out the way you wanted it to.
Convection ovens are becoming increasingly popular and can be either gas or electric. Baking in a convection oven vs. conventional oven can have its advantages and disadvantages. Fear not, we have outlined what these are in this article.
But first: what is the convection setting on your oven?
What Is A Convection Oven & How To Use The Setting
A convection oven has a fan and exhaust system that circulates hot air around the cavity of the oven and, therefore, helps reduce hot and cold spots so food cooks more evenly and about 25 percent faster. To use convection settings, most ovens will have a manual setting that activates the fan.
When turned on, air circulation inside the oven is improved and your food will cook faster. When turned off, the oven will just act as a traditional conventional oven. Most recipes will provide cooking or baking instructions for a regular oven, so it's understandable if you're more comfortable following the recipe exactly.
Should I Use The Convection Bake or Regular Setting for Cookies?
To bake or not to bake with the convection setting; that is the question.
Ultimately, it's entirely up to you and/or what the recipe calls for. If you enjoy a nice crispy but gooey cookie, definitely utilize the convection fan while baking cookies. But if you prefer a soft, chewy cookie, stick to the regular setting. The same can be said about brownies. If you're looking for even browning around the edges but a gooey texture inside, use the convection setting. If you want an all-around chewy brownie, you'll be better off using the regular setting.
Remember, if you're baking with a convection oven, you'll need to lower the temperature. A good rule of thumb to typically follow is to lower the temperature requested on the recipe by 25ºF so, for example, the recipe calls for a temperature of 350ºF, set it to 325ºF instead.
The Do's & Don'ts Of Convection Cooking & Baking
Follow these tips for better results, regardless of what you're cooking or baking with the convection setting:
- Do make sure to lower the temperature since your food will cook faster
- Do lower the cooking time as well as the temperature
- Do use pots and pans that are low-sided so the hot air can circulate around the food better
- Do check your food more frequently than you would with conventional ovens, especially when the food is almost ready as it may be more likely to burn
- Do use the convection setting when browning, roasting or crisping veggies for prime results
- Do cook larger meals in a convection oven as it has a more even heating element so all dishes will be ready at the same time
Do make sure any foil or parchment paper is secure as the fan can blow it around
When cooking or baking with a convection oven, remember to refrain from doing these things:
- Don't overcrowd the oven and block the fan or exhaust system, otherwise, your dishes won't be ready at the same time
Don't expect your dough to rise or use the convection setting for things like fluffy cake recipes
The Disadvantages Of Using The Convection Bake Setting
There comes a time when you shouldn’t necessarily use the convection oven for baking and just stick to the regular setting, especially if you’re baking bread, buns or other pastries that you want to rise. The convection oven will not allow your pastries to rise.
Burning food is also a lot easier with the convection setting because it cooks/bakes things faster which is why you need to remember to turn down the temperature and not follow the recipe exactly.
Depending on how you place your trays and pans in the oven, foil or parchment paper is likely to blow around because of the fans dispensing the heat evenly. Using a silicone baking mat could solve this problem but you may prefer to just stick to the regular baking setting, unless you’re trying to opt for a crispier cookie or brownie as mentioned above!
Don't Be Scared To Use A Convection Oven
Are convection ovens going to be the same as a regular oven? No, you will definitely need to adjust the way you cook with one, but they can be great for cooking or baking specific food. For example, this recipe by Bella Cupcake couture is perfect for convection baking!
If you have veggies in need of roasting - convection! If you have cookies that you want to crisp up on the side - convection! If you're in charge of cooking the turkey this year for Christmas and want the skin crispy but the rest of the meat nice and juicy - convection!
It can be tough to get used to at first, especially because many recipes that you come across will likely be for using a conventional oven, but that's why we created this list to help make your convection cooking experience much easier. In fact, you may find that you should have been using one all along!