Holiday Baking Tips for Convection Bake vs. Regular Bake
It's the season for holiday cookies! Many home bakers turn their kitchens into cookie factories this time of year, churning out dozens of batches of gingerbread men, sugar cookies, and other holiday favorites. If you're a baker, then you may have wondered if a convection oven would be a better option for baking your holiday cookies. Let's look at the differences between convection bake vs. regular bake ovens to determine which is better.
Convection Bake vs. Regular Bake Ovens
A conventional oven uses radiant heat to bake your cookies. The heat emanates from the top and/or bottom surfaces, which usually results in an oven with hot and cold spots. That's why you'll typically have to turn your trays of cookies around halfway through, to help ensure even baking.
A convection oven on the other hand, has an internal fan that circulates hot air, and helps maintain a consistently heated environment. There are no hot or cold spots. The most obvious advantage to having a steady supply of heat surrounding your cookies is that they will cook faster and brown more evenly. In addition, your cookies will release steam from the butter almost immediately in a convection oven, which will result in lighter and flakier cookies.
5 Tips When Using Convection Bake vs. Regular Bake Ovens
If you decide to switch from a conventional oven to a convection oven to handle your holiday cookies this year, then keep these tips in mind to ensure the best results possible.
- Lower the temperature by 25 degrees. Convection ovens are more efficient than conventional ovens, so you can lower the temperature and get the same results. Set the oven to about 25 degrees below the temperature stated on the recipe.
- Check cookies frequently. Your cookies will bake more quickly in a convection oven. Check your cookies about halfway through the cooking time. Then, keep checking every few minutes. Cookies will generally be done baking 6 to 8 minutes faster than the time stated on the recipe. Go by how your cookies look and smell to determine if they are done. As you get more experienced with convection baking, you'll be better able to predict the perfect length of time your cookies will need.
- Don't crowd the oven. Convection ovens rely on air being able to circulate, so don’t crowd the oven with too many trays at once. If the air is blocked, the food will still cook, but it will be less efficient. Feel free to use the top and bottom racks at the same time. But again, make sure not to overload them.
- Use low-sided baking sheets. This tip is probably a no-brainer because most of us usually use low-sided baking sheets for holiday cookies regardless of whether or not we're using convection bake vs. regular bake ovens. But especially with convection ovens, low-sided or rimless sheets allow for better air circulation and crispier cookies. In fact, you should use low-sided baking sheets with most convention oven cooking, including roasting vegetables and meats.
- Know when not to use a convection oven.While convection ovens are ideal for holiday cookies, you don't want use this type of oven to bake cakes, custards, soufflés, or quick breads. The movement of the air from the convection fan can cause uneven baking and reduced rising. In addition, custards can dry out from the air movement and form an unpleasant crust on top.
What's the Bottom Line on Convection Bake vs. Regular Bake Ovens?
When it comes to holiday cookies, convection ovens do have a slight edge over conventional ovens, especially if you have a lot of baking to do. However, you can’t go wrong with a solid conventional oven, if that's your true preference.
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