How to Use Convection Oven
Convection ovens have earned a reputation for being faster than regular ovens. Yet there are still a lot of people who don’t use it because you have to change the temperature and cooking time. But there is no question that convection provides superior results compared to conventional ovens, and it’s not as difficult as it may seem.
How Convection Ovens Work
A conventional oven has a couple of elements along the top and bottom of the chamber. Both are utilized at the preheating stage, but often only the bottom is used for the duration of the cooking.
This leaves the oven with cold and hot spots and makes for uneven cooking results. You could roast a turkey for several hours end up with some parts undercooked and others overcooked. You could bake a batch of cookies and half are burnt and the other underbaked.
Convection ovens however, use an additional heating element and a fan to avoid these problems. Placed at the end of the oven, the fan produces an air stream which goes over the added heating element. The heated air is recirculated within the chamber, regulating the temperature.
There is more heat and intensity with a convection oven, so food is cooked faster and with superior results. Foods quickly caramelize so they’re golden brown, sweets and pastries are flakier and lighter, and there’s better searing on roasts.
One of the keys is that best convection ovens release moisture, giving the food richer color. Because of the built-in fan, it does a good job of wicking the moisture than a regular oven. The whole purpose of cooking in an oven is to eliminate moisture, and a convection oven speeds this up.
Types of Convection Ovens
Not all convection ovens are built the same way: standard convection and European or true convection. A standard or regular convection oven doesn’t have a heating element, only a fan. A true / European convection oven has a third heating element and a fan. The added heating element at the back can be used to generate heat.
With three heating elements, there is enough heat here to evenly cook up 3 food racks. A standard convection oven blows around cold and hot air so it doesn't cook food as evenly as a true convection oven. Bottom line: if you want genuine convection cooking,you need to buy a true convection oven, i.e. with three elements.
What is an Automatic Convection Conversion
One of the reasons why some people don’t like to use convection ovens is having to convert recipes. Fortunately it is not going to be a problem because most convection ovens have an automatic convection conversion feature. An auto convection conversion does exactly that, adjust the cooking time and automatically convert the temperature from conventional to convection.
As we have noted earlier, converting temperatures and adjusting cooking times can be a hassle, but with an automatic converter, the cooking process is simplified.
General Tips for Using a Convection Oven
The first thing you should do is refer to the owner’s manual. Even though they may have the same purpose, the features and process could vary. In addition:
● Reduce the temperature by about 25 degrees and/or cooking time by a quarter of the usual length.
● If you are not sure which to try, reduce the temperature first by 25 degrees before shortening the cooking time.
● Foods that have to be covered during cooking must have similar temperature and cooking time as on a conventional oven. This is understandable because the food won’t be exposed to the warm circulating air inside the oven.
● Even with an auto convection conversion it might take some time before you get the timing right.
When Convection Ovens Should Not be Used
Convection ovens provide a lot of benefits, cooks food faster and has a better taste. However there are instances when it’s not a good idea to use a convection oven. Generally speaking it is not a good idea to use it for naturally airy and light foods.
Cream puffs should not be used on cream puffs for instance, because it could blow the fan off when it leavens. The same thing could occur if you use tin foil and parchment paper as air could get under it and mess with the cookie sheet.
Other Tips and Suggestions
● Recipes need different cooking times, so it is essential that you reduce the temperature and/or cooking time to get the best results.
● The changes in cooking time and temperature means you need to check up on the food at an earlier, more frequent rate.
● To avoid overcooking, you should always check the food about halfway through the cooking process.
● After checking halfway through, you should check more often as cooking time is close to completion.
● Convection cooking does not always have to be very precise. With some recipes you’re going to have to go with your senses. Cooking times and temperatures are important, but you must also smell the food as it’ll tell you if it’s done.
● Don’t over rely on the timer. The more you bake with a convection oven, the more quickly you’ll learn about cooking timing.
● Cooking in a convection oven is all about airflow and circulation. Without sufficient air circulation, the food won’t be cooked as well as it could be. You can still cook, but you won’t get optimum benefits.
● For the best results you should use the right utensil and cooking materials. That means pans with low sides and baking sheets without rims. By using the right tools and cooking materials, you’ll get the most out of your recipes.
● Circulation is important not just in veggies but fried foods and any food you want to be crisp.
As has been demonstrated here, there are a lot of good reasons to use a convection oven. In the past the learning curve may have been steep, but convection ovens now have a lot of features which make them easier to use. The consistency and the uniformity produces outstanding results and is the ideal choice for serious cooks.