More than often, when a sales associate asks a customer if they would like to see a range or oven that can cook faster & better with convection, the first response is, “No, I don’t know how to cook with convection”. Although becoming much more common, the convection oven option is often explained poorly or creates apprehension that a new oven owner will have to re-learn all of their recipes or learn to cook a different way. Well, as always, we’re here to make it easy.
First, we should explain what a convection oven is.
A convection oven has all the capabilities of a non-convection, standard oven
allowing you to bake and broil just as you always have. The actual Convection cycles are separate and just mean the oven will use one or more fans inside to circulate air around the food. The convection fan allows the heat to be transferred evenly, surrounding and penetrating the food and eliminating the layer of cool air that surrounds your food in the oven. By doing this the food is allowed to cook much more evenly and in much less time, often at lower temperatures. Depending on what you are cooking, convection cycles are designed for each food type…and whether you are cooking muliple racks or food, or just a single item. Convection bake, convection roast & multi-convection are all features you can utilize easily, but you can still choose to use traditional bake methods.
Ok, still with me? We could get really technical here and go into all the different ways our brands engineer their ovens, but instead how about just a brief summary? Some brands use a large fan, some brands use multiple smaller fans. Some manufacturers put a heating element around their fans, others use the baking and / or broiling elements to create the heat and the fan to circulate that heat through the oven cavity. Regardless of how they achieve it, if a fan is located in the oven and it forces the air to circulate then it is utilizing a form of convection.
Ok, but you know how to cook and you’ve been doing it for years. How do you bake Mom’s baked ziti in a convection oven?
Well, for your typical recipes you’ll find that your cooking time will be about 25% less if you’re using an uncovered dish. We do encourage you to take a peek at the item once you’re at 75% cooking time mark to check for doneness. Don’t want to do the math? Just bring your temperature down 25 degrees. You’ll lose the time
saving features of the oven, but the food will come out looking and tasting better. Stick to cookie sheets or low-sided baking pans for roasts or poultry so the air can circulate and sear the juices in. Like cookies? Of course you do. In many convection ovens the air flow is so good that multiple sheets of cookie dough can be placed in the oven and the cookies will come out identical regardless of where the dough was placed or on which rack it was placed on.
Now, If you’re using a covered, deep, baking pan the convection cooking modes will be less effective and require just as much time. Just use standard bake in those cases. However to get a great finish to that lasagna or casserole you might consider removing the lid and turning on the convection to brown the top for the last 15 minutes. And since convection is becoming so common you’ll notice most cooking websites will offer their recipes with convection settings to help you eliminate the guesswork.
Lastly, many premium convection ovens feature Auto-Conversion. With this feature the oven does the work for you, automatically recalculating the the time and temperature you program from your traditional recipes into convection settings with the push of a button.
That’s it. With Convection ovens you get all of the features you’ve come to expect from traditional cooking, but with the added ability to cook faster and get even better results. Not so scary, right