Convection or no: which one should I bake with?

Recently I got this email from my sister-in-law:

Susan,
Do you see a benefit to using a convection oven vs. a traditional oven?  I understand that the convection oven distributes the heat more evenly, and there is a cost benefit because it cooks faster saving some electricity.  With better oven design and manufacture is that even a thing still?
– Juliana

Shopping for ovens can be bewildering. It used to be simple: gas or electric. For what it’s worth, our test kitchen ovens are all 30″ wide and mostly electric. The second heating element above gives us a slightly more even heat and quicker preheating time. We have a gas oven under our stove, and we tend to keep the baking stones in there.

Sales people at appliance stores will go on and on about the time and energy-saving advantages of a convection oven, and how you can cook a gazillion cookies at once, and how could you possibly live without one…

Here’s the deal. Convection ovens are insulated boxes, just like any oven. They have a fan in the back, and sometimes an additional heating element tied to the fan. The fan pushes the heat around the inside of the oven, making cooking go faster.

muffinblowoutEarly convection ovens (and even some today) have been known to do things like this to your food. As this muffin rose, the blowing hot air set the outside of the muffin, while the wet inside was still rising. Eventually it just plain busted through to the outside. We’ve heard tales of cookies being blown off their baking pans onto the oven window; a shot I’d dearly love to reproduce, but so far haven’t managed.

Wetter batters or doughs can literally be blown sideways by the fan as they’re rising.

windblowncupcakeNote that the wind in this case was blowing from the east.

One frequent complication for new convection owners is how to adjust their recipes, all of which are written for still ovens. The rule of thumb is this:

Reduce the oven’s temperature by 25°F. Make your first check of baking time 10 minutes earlier than the recipe says.

You can always bake it more, but you can’t bake it less.

Some models of convection oven will do the adjusting for you, which is downright confusing. You set the temperature for 375°F, and if you press the convection setting, it automatically preheats itself to 350°F. My advice when shopping is to have a recipe you make a lot in mind, and while you’re at the store, fantasy-bake it using the controls of any model you’re considering. You’ll see soon enough if it’s an oven you can be friends with.

Ironically, for all the “even-baking” hoopla, I find most convection ovens have a hot spot toward the front; the air blowing across hits the door and bounces back, and often the food at the front of any baking sheet is done significantly before the rest.

Here’s how I answered Juliana:
I think it’s a feature worth having, because convection can do some things that a still oven can’t.

First thing to know is any oven you buy with a convection fan doesn’t have to be used that way. Make sure whatever oven you do buy (especially if you only have room for one) is capable of baking without the fan coming on. We’ve had issues with this on the pair of ovens we bought recently.

Most have settings for the following:
•Bake;
•Convection bake (lower fan speed, so you don’t end up blowing cookies across the pan, or putting tilted “hats” on your cupcakes);
Convection roast (higher fan speed);
Broil.

I’ve seen some convection broil, as well, which is a little weird, because broiling is a radiant heat method, and the fan is of little use there, but whatever.

It’s about a $100 up-charge to get the box with the fan in it, but there’s some resale value to it, and it does significantly increase the number of things you can do.

Convection bake at a very low temperature is nice for dehydrating; you can get beautiful oven-dried/roasted tomatoes with it. Convection roast is nice for any kind of chicken or chunk of meat where you like crispy outsides, and I’ve been known to go there for airier pizza crusts. Also the bomb for nicely caramelized roasted vegetables.

At higher temperatures with water in the bottom, it’s a good setting for baking artisan breads: quick oven spring and usually a better crust.

When I buy ovens for the King Arthur test kitchen, I get double-wall units –  convection on top and regular on the bottom – which give us a lot of options.

I hope this helps.
– Susan

If you need a short list, here’s my best advice (keep in mind there’s a lot of room for variations and personal choice here, given the many different combinations you’ll find in oven designs). Also, don’t forget to adjust your oven’s temperature and time.

A convection is good for:

  • A quick roast chicken with nice, crispy skin
  • Roasted root vegetables
  • Artisan breads
  • Pizza
  • Drying meringues if it will hold a low (below 200°F) temperature
  • Drying fruits and vegetables
  • Making a gazillion cookies at once; but don’t expect them to cook evenly
  • biscuits and scones

Bake these things in the oven with the fan off:

  • Quickbreads
  • Cupcakes and wet muffin batters
  • Cakes: layers, angelfood, loaf
  • Sandwich breads or sweet yeast baking

To finish the story, I asked Juliana if she bought another oven. Here was her reply:

Dave took the whole oven apart and fixed the door. Originally he didn’t think he could, so he had me research new ones.  We didn’t buy a new oven after all.  But, if I do sometime in the future, I will definitely buy convection.
– Juliana

Susan Reid
About

Chef Susan Reid grew up in New Jersey, graduated from Bates College and the Culinary Institute of America, and is presently the Food Editor of Sift magazine. She does demos, appearances, and answers food (and baking) questions from all quarters.

comments

  1. Nupur

    My oven has settings for both convectional baking and regular. I love the convection setting for roasting vegetables. They are a staple side dish in my home, and I can roast big trays of vegetables in 15 minutes flat.

    Reply
    1. Nk

      Hello ,
      I just got my kitchen remodeled and planning on buying new appliances . I am very confused about the gas range . I am not good baker – all I need oven for baking cupcakes , cakes once in a while . My main concern is getting an oven where my frozen items like bagelbites or any form of pizza could be reheated faster .. I also need a slide in range . So what kind of oven range would fit my needs ? I am so confused what to buy ?
      I really appreciate your guidance .

    2. Susan Reid , post author

      I would just look for a gas range that has a 2-speed convection fan in the oven. Use the lower oven convection setting (look for “convection bake”) for reheating. Susan

  2. mitzimuffins

    My oven has both settings and even though I do the majority of my cooking in the regular oven. I do think the convection baking setting does help brown things more evenly.

    Reply
  3. Ben Gilbert Merritt

    I use the convection setting when baking bread (450 to 475) in a covered pot or dutch oven. It does a great preheat and does not overbrown the bottom of the loaf as sometimes happens with conventional high temperature bake.

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Great feedback, thanks! And the covering on the pot helps prevent that drying effect on the bread, too, I imagine. ~ MJ

  4. Karen Welsh

    Thank you for the info on convection ovens. I have also wondered if you have any tips when convection roasting chicken it seems to splatter all over the walls and then next time you want go bake your oven is smoking because of the olive oil splatter. I don’t want to cover it because I want it crisp. Also don’t want to have to clean it all the time.

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid , post author

      Hi, Karen. I don’t put any oil on my chicken at all. I usually dry brine it, sprinkling it inside and out with a mixture of salt, onion powder, dried herbs, and a smidgen of sugar. Let it sit, uncovered, in the frige for a couple of hours. This dries out the skin, which forms what we call a pellicle. It’s the best way I know to get a really tasty, crispy skin. Give it a try; it’s a lot less work on the cleaning end. Susan

  5. Carol Olsen

    Thank you so much for this. I have a convection oven on top and regular on bottom and am still struggling with making the right time and temperature adjustments with the convection, particularly when baking cookies. This was very helpful and I’m going to try a roast chicken with my convection today.

    Reply
  6. Denise Melonas

    I love my convection oven for baking buns, rolls and baguettes – any bread that I bake on my 1/2 sheet pan. They brown better and cook a few minutes faster. I do have to switch racks for my rolls (KAF Beautiful Bun recipe) halfway through to keep the bottoms from over-browning. I can do cookies on the convection setting if I watch them really carefully and switch the pans. I like it for cookies that I want to be crispy.

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid , post author

      Hi, Denise. Sounds to me like you may only have a bottom element in your oven, and not one above. Are you dropping the oven temperature? Or are your baking sheets dark? Dark baking sheets will always give you dark cookie bottoms. Susan

  7. Paul from Oho

    We are more than likely purchasing a Kenmore Elite Induction cooktop with a TRUE CONVECTION oven. True Convection is described as:

    Even better results come from a true-convection oven, which has a third heating element along with the fan, so it blows heated air. With true convection, also referred to as European convection and third-element convection, oven temperature is more uniform than it is with regular convection.

    I’m looking forward to beautifully baked apple pies, pizza and loaves of what we call Wally (Walter Sands White Bread).

    Can’t imagine the fan is blowing hard enough to blow cookies around on a baking sheet?!!!!!

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid , post author

      Believe me, Paul, I’ve seen it happen, but mostly in commercial ovens, with a fan that could blow your hair straight back standing in front of it when you open the door. If you can try out the controls in a floor model that’s plugged in, that’s always preferable. Ask where the thermocouple is situated inside the box; hopefully it’s as far away from fan with the third element as possible. Susan

  8. Mary T

    Thank you for a great article! When it came time to replace my microwave I selected one that had both microwave and convection capabilities. This has been a great addition to my conventional electric oven. Especially at holidays when I never seemed to have enough oven space!

    It has not been my experience that things cook more quickly, but perhaps it is doing the temperature compensation you discussed. I do most of my layer cakes in the convection and don’t have any “wind drift” issues. I wonder if that is because the box is smaller than a conventional oven so the air bounces around more?

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      It could be the smaller box, or perhaps a smaller fan. Either way, glad to know it’s working out so well Mary. 🙂

  9. CJrMom

    I have an Lg oven and must say I wouldn’t think of baking cookies or pastries (i.e. cream puffs) without convection, I guess my fan must be really ok! Never had those uneven tops on muffins or cakes. BUT. I have had the hot spot problem, and never knew why. I also never knew the difference between convection bake/roast as we got ours as a floor model and they’d lost the manual. Thanks Susan, this is a really helpful article!

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      That Susan, she’s right on the money today. Guess we’ll have to give her a big batch of cookies soon! ~ MJ

  10. Chris

    You know- I learned something today that I have been complaining to my husband about for awhile. (don’t tell him though) When I bake a cake on convection(following the proper adjustments) my cakes always are higher on one side and I have been blaming the oven saying that we need a new one(it’s 30 yrs old) When I do get a new stove I will get convection because I like what it does for roasting meats, vegetables,pizzas and baking bread and will use regular oven settings for cakes from now on.
    Love your site, recipes and comments.
    Chris

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      You’re secret is safe with us Chris, although we’ll back up whatever you say so you can get that new oven. 😉 ~ MJ

  11. Frans

    I have been using convection ovens in my home for years. I would not have any other kind. I very seldom use the regular (non-convection) setting. After reading your post I finally realized why my cakes sometimes come out with uneven tops. Next time I will turn the fan off.
    My one pet-peeve about buying ovens is the way the door opens. I hate doors that open straight down, it makes reaching in so much harder. I currently have two convection ovens in my kitchen and they open to the side making it so much easier to get in and out. I saw one on a British baking show where the door opens straight down but then slides under the oven. I thought that was pretty clever. Thanks for the informative post.

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Oh, what a neat idea for the door. I have been caught more than once between my oven door and the cabinet. Not fun! ~ MJ

    2. Jean Colson

      Re: oven doors!!

      I was stunned when I noticed the “oven door disappearing from sight” on the “Great British Baking Show” on PBS. What a stunning idea. I’m just a wee bit over 5 ft tall and reaching over the door into a very hot oven to take a temperature reading (even with an instant thermometer) is NOT my idea of safe/fun!

      My new gas Electrolux convection range can make all baking a very hot project as the oven heat is blown out the front of the top, right across the burners thus making a dinner using the stovetop and oven VERY hot, indeed. My old oven, which I loved, a Thermadore, had the best of all worlds — a gas cooktop and electric oven with optional convection — alas, after just 12 years or so, parts were no longer available and I was forced to replace it…sigh.

    3. Susan Reid , post author

      Ohh, Jean, sorry to hear about your Thermador. I had one, too, when we first moved into our house. One day I opened the oven door and it fell completely off, onto the floor. That’s when I bought my pair of Amanas, which have been great, but which are, alas, also no longer available. I’m with you, gas for the stove and electic for ovens!! Susan

  12. mary

    I have had my convection oven for many yrs along with my second oven. I have used it off & on but never thought about using it for roasting veggies. Now I anxious to give that Try!!!

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth

      Asparagus is the ultimate baked veggie! Sprinkle with a bit of EVOO, salt and pepper, and a bit of shredded Parmesan and let it get just a bit crisp and you’ve gone one heck of a delicious side!!

  13. KimberlyJ

    I have dual regular/convection oven. My mother-in-law lived with us for a year and tried making biscuits in my oven. She used the Bakewell recipe, 500° for 5 minutes, turn the oven off to finish. Well, they didn’t rise or brown being baked on regular setting . I turned off convection settings and still an issue. We had biscuits about three times a week, for weeks, until she conquered that oven! I haven’t found a setting to turn off the fan, I may look again. Great article, now I know when to use convection, thank you.

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      We’re so thrilled to see so many thank you’s. Susan really hit the sweet spot today. 🙂 ~ MJ

    2. Debbie

      I have a recipe that requires that the oven be turned off and sit closed for an hour. I found the easiest way – since the oven is on it’s own breaker, it to flip the breaker off. Maybe a pain to some but resetting the clock was a small price to pay for the recipe turning out!

  14. Roland Zapata

    When baking banana nut bread, I use a darker loaf pan so I am already lowering the temp by 25 deg. If using a convection oven, would I have to lower the temp an additional 25 deg?

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      You may want to start with just lowering 10°F Roland. Then you can adjust more depending on the outcome. ~ MJ

  15. Patricia Lukas

    Thank you so much for this article. I recently bought a new induction range with a convection oven. It’s good to know the difference between the ‘roast’ and ‘bake’ settings.

    Reply
  16. Sue

    We live in a rural area of high country Arizona and use solar and propane. I like to use my convection for most things on sunny days (of which there are many here), reasoning that I’m saving $$ on propane and, thus, baking for “free.”

    Reply
  17. Morreen Bayles

    When I bake muffins/quick breads/cookies – I cook them for about 75% of the lowest end of the cook time on regular bake, then I switch my oven over to convection bake for the rest of the time. The end result is a moist, perfectly cooked product.

    Reply
  18. Parvaneh

    i have a convection oven and it seems like the lower rack make the bottom of the cookies too brown while their top still isn’t done! Aren’t these ovens supposed to spread the heat evenly throughout the oven? Thanks

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Yes, the fans of convection ovens are supposed to move that heat around for even baking. You may need to adjust the racks toward the middle to get a more even heat. ~ MJ

  19. Diane Lawson

    I just purchased a kitchen aid oven with a convection microwave on top. The oven is fine, both convection and conventional cooking available. But I have a real problem with the microwave , are u aware of any problems with them.. It changes set times and doesn’t cook like my regular micro did.. Can u help or do u think it may be defective? Thank u, diane

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi Diane,
      We haven’t heard of any big issues with the ovens. You may want to give Kitchen Aid a call directly to describe the troubles to them. They would know best if it’s normal or not. Best of luck! ~ MJ

  20. SarahD

    I use the convection setting on my oven when roasting vegetables, for browning/crisping prepared foods that are supposed to be crispy on the outside (like frozen eggrolls), and during the second stage of baking biscotti–but you gotta watch that last one closely for overbaking. I’ve dried fruit in it in the past, but it’s time consuming to prepare the fruit for drying, and I haven’t really come up with any great uses for massive quantities of dried pears (I have a huge pear tree). I love dried pears for eating, but one can only eat so many of them.

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      I love the eggroll idea, nothing is sadder than a soggy eggroll. :(. As for those pears, I bet you’d have plenty of takers here! ~ MJ

  21. Theresa Gallagher

    We have a beautifully remolded kitchen now in use for 1 year and I purchased a convection oven after much research. I am known for my pies, but had a disaster at Christmas. Baked pies on convect bake, and my smart oven does adjust temp automatically. Turned out that the deep dish apple pie was beautifully brown on outside, but not cooked on the inside. Our local appliance store owners (where we have purchased all our appliances because customer service is what we want) explained that pies should not be cooked on convection. Use regular baking cycle, or try out the “convect pastry” cycle on the JennAir………..After all the work into the pie, little hesitate to try it……….have you had experience with using a convect pastry cycle? I also have tried the “proof” cycle for my hand at yeast biscuits…that too was a disaster, since I needed to keep the risen rolls at the proof temp, yet pre-heat to bake when ready. What a conundrum!!! I love KAF and follow your recipes and suggestions (by the way, the Strawberry-Rhubarb pie recipe is my contractor husband’s all-time favorite!)……any suggestions and helpful hints. I am determined to also master yeast rolls and bread making before I leave this earth…..

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid , post author

      Hi, Theresa. I haven’t had the opportunity to test a “convect pastry” cycle; I’d have to check out the manual and see exactly what that entails. Could be a combination of fan on and off at intervals in conjunction with a different speed. It can be dizzying. I would never use any manufacturer’s idea of a proof cycle, frankly. Our preferred proofing spot, if you have more than one oven, is to put dough in an oven with the light bulb on, and that’s pretty much it. Then you can heat the other oven as needed. If you only have one oven, any draft-free spot is fine. Cooler temperatures may mean longer rises, but they pay off with better flavor. Susan

    2. Theresa Gallagher

      Thanks, Susan so much. The Jenn-Aire manual that accompanied the convection oven is pretty much useless with details on what can be expected, and how the specific cycles work. That is why I depend on social media and KAF to help me in the kitchen and with managing smart appliances. Learning much about the Jenn-Aire oven on this website. Now I understand why the 22-lb Thanksgiving turkey was dry after 4 hrs on convection, should have trusted that it would be done in 2+ hrs on convect. Always a pleasure working and learning from KAF, my go-to site for great recipes and products.

    3. Laurinda

      Very interesting comment. I have recently replaced my oven with a Samsung convection dual oven. I am used to baking bread, pies, and cookies. I have yet to have a success with my new oven. The new ovens with a lot of features should not be so complicated to try and figure out how to bake. I even hesitate to attempt Christmas cookies this year! Any additional comments as to why my baked items do not come out as expected is appreciated.

    4. The Baker's Hotline

      Laurinda, we’d love to help you navigate your new oven, but we’ll need a bit more information about what your results in the past were like. Consider giving our Baker’s Hotline a call at 855-371-BAKE(2253). We look forward to helping you with this! Kye@KAF

  22. Sandy Swartz

    I bake 40-60 loaves of bread for church communion over a period of 2 days. Prior to getting my convection oven (can be convection or convential) I would bake 4 loaves at a time, the two on the top shelf were perfect the two on the bottom overdone. With the convection all 4 bake beautifully at the same time without me having to check towards the end of baking time. I can then keep working on the dough for the next batch without worrying.

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid , post author

      Way to go, Sandy. Volume is one of the things convection does best, as you’ve obviously discovered! Susan

  23. Candace

    Thanks for a great article. I’ve been terrified of using my convection oven – the instructions might as well be written in a foreign language! I am most intrigued by the mention of roasting root vegetables and plan to try it right away. I wonder, though, would you reduce the temperature by 25 degrees – say 400 from 425 where I normally roast them, or would you go even lower? Thanks so much!
    Cheers!

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid , post author

      Hi, Candace. 400 is a pretty good place to go for roasting. The smaller the veggies are cut, the faster they’ll go. I always stir them once or twice during the process; the outer edges always go a little faster. Susan

  24. Barbara

    My oven can be either convection or not, but I soon concluded that it had to be always used as a convection due to poor results from using it without the fan. In non-convection mode oven temperature was erratic and baking took much longer, with uneven baking. My theory has been that the wide fan opening, with no fan blowing, allowed for heat escape from that area of the oven. I have no idea if this is true. But I just use convection now for everything. Baking technique, however, is the same as for a non-convection oven: one cookie sheet at a time, and rotation of cookies, cakes, and muffins half-way through, for even browning and rise. The results are good, but the big supposed advantage of convection is not so readily apparent. Since it can be hard to find a gas oven without convection, I am accepting of the convection-only strategy.

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid , post author

      Hi, Barbara. Your theory may be true, but it also sounds as if the insulation around your oven may not be up to par; does the door close tightly? Is the gasket around it sound? Just a couple of things to check, especially since it sounds like you have a gas oven. Can you pull the bottom of it out and look at the color of the flames? If they’re not a steady blue, the jets could be clogged, which would also make the heat uneven. Susan

  25. Phyllis Sliss

    I have both convection and conventional oven settings but never use anything but the convection. I never had the problem show in the photos above. My oven is a GE. Does the brand make a difference. I just baked red velvet cupcakes and they came out perfect. I am a bread baker and my breads also do well in the convection. I generally bake 25°F lower than the recipe calls for and is generally suggested for convection ovens.

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid , post author

      Hi, Phyllis. It’s good that you’ve come to a good place using the convection feature on your GE. We have a variety of brands in the test kitchen, doing our best to replicate the range of types our customers have. Altogether there are 2 Bosches, 2 Frigidaires, 2 Whirlpools, a Viking (our one gas model) and 4 GEs. They all work slightly differently; their control panels all have slightly different programs, and “personalities”. Susan

  26. Joanne

    Thanks, I have convection roast and convection bake. I had no idea the fan speeds were different for both. I did know that convection roast was good for baking pizzas, but I didn’t realize that it was also good for baking artisan breads for quicker oven spring and better crusts. I didn’t equate “baking” bread with using a “roast convection”…now I know the two are compatible.

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid , post author

      Glad to be of help; I hope you’ll take this information and use it as a springboard to do some experimenting! Susan

  27. Dave Arneson

    I do roasts, especially rib roast. The roast cooks in almost half the time and has a nice crisp outside.
    I bake my sourdough bread with convection and turn great loaves in half the time. I have asmall cast iron frying pan that I put in the oven when I change the temperature.
    My oven has a baked goods setting which convects at 100 degrees for perfect bread proofing.
    I use KA bread flour for all my bread.

    Reply
    1. Jennifer

      Can you please share what type of oven you have? I am looking for an oven that convects at very low temperatures for dehydrating. 100 degrees would be amazing!!

    2. Susan Reid , post author

      Jennifer, we have several different ovens in the test kitchen. At the moment there are three Bosch electric oven sets; 2 have convection fans. The standard double oven pair with has a convection unit on top and the lowest temperature that one will sustain is 170° on the convection setting. Same is true for the Frigidaire double oven set. We have one Bosch side-opening unit that will go as low as 150°; it’s an expensive model. When you’re doing your homework, you can download the manuals for most models online; then you can find out from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, what the lower end of the convection range is for that model. All depends on what they program it for at the factory. Susan

  28. Emilie

    This is so helpful, Susan. I’ve been fortunate enough to have double wall ovens for the past 10+ years with convection at the top, but seldom use that setting because I’m never sure exactly what works best in them at what times, etc. So your rules of thumb are terrific.

    I have another semi-related question (that actually could be a heads-up for anyone researching what ovens to buy). At one time I saw somewhere that you have Bosch double-ovens in the KAF kitchen Do the oven lights on yours automatically go off every time you open the oven door? I love my Bosch ovens except for that one feature (which there’s no way to know about before you buy and install them). When I’m cooking a lot at one time it drives me nuts! If I’m checking baked goods for doneness or opening the doors to rotate cookie sheets/cake pans, I can end up having to push the buttons to turn the oven lights back on about 20 times in one baking session! So I’m very curious if you guys have to deal with that as well with your Bosch’s?

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid , post author

      Hi, Emilie. I typed a response to you once already, but it looks like the internet ate it. The Bosch ovens are at my station in the test kitchen, and I haven’t noticed the light misbehaving; it’s possible the contact on your switch is loose or corroded. But if you’ve seen any of my other responses, you know I’m not a fan of opening the door any more than absolutely necessary, and especially not for cookies, which have such a short bake time anyhow. You lose so much heat by opening the door, and in the end it creates a more uneven temp with a greater likelihood of missing the mark. Susan

    2. Emilie

      Thanks for the reply, Susan. Actually for cookies it’s usually just a matter of taking out one sheet and putting in another, and having to push the light button again. And again. And again!! I do typically rotate my cake layers, though, so that’s really interesting to know you’re not a fan of that. And if I’m baking rolls and it seems like one side of the pan is browning faster than the other I usually open the door and turn it. Do you pretty much avoid all of that for the sake of keeping the oven hot?

      (And BTW I had the service guy come and check it out when I first got the ovens, thinking it must be a defect, and both he and a Bosch rep said that was a feature of those ovens. So if your lights don’t turn off every time you open the door, you perhaps got a lucky lemon!)

    3. Susan Reid , post author

      Hmmm. One thing worth trying with cake layers to get a more even bake is to put the layer pans in a water bath; it tends to keep things much more even as far as heat distribution. Does your fan have a lower speed? Another thing maybe worth trying is doubling up your baking sheets for cookies; there again it might even out the heat. Susan

    4. Cathy Pastore

      Regarding the Bosch oven light – this is how it works: The oven is baking and the light is off. You turn on the light to see through the window. If you open the oven, the light stays on while it is open, but turns off again when you close the door. I’m not sure Susan understood the question.

    5. Wendy

      I have a Bosch and it does that too. I think it is to save the bulb. I can turn on the light and it stays on as long as I want, but once I open and shut the door it goes off. Otherwise I like my Bosch. Good luck!

  29. Debra Steward

    The timing of this article was perfect for me. I have to buy a new stove this weekend because the old one gave up the ghost during the Super Bowl. I have been able to scrape by until this President’s Day weekend to wait for the specials!

    Reply
  30. Stephanie P.

    I now have a Samsung FlexDuo convection oven (roast and bake) that I adore. But before we needed a new full size range, I purchased the Breville Smart Oven, toaster oven ($250), which has convection. I can’t say enough great things about it, and it’s still used daily.

    It roasts perfect chickens, makes great loaves of bread, and cheesecakes that don’t crack. It can hold a 9×13-inch pan, keep foods warm, reheats food beautifully, and yes, makes excellent toast and bagels, fresh or frozen. For those really wanting to try convection but can’t afford a full size range, I highly recommend the Breville Smart Oven (I promise, no one pays me to say these things.)

    Thanks for the informative article, you can probably tell by now I’m a convection fan! (Pun intended, lol)

    Reply
    1. Sheila

      I’ll second that, Stephanie. I love my Breville Smart Oven and find that, as my nest empties, it’s plenty for me. I rarely turn on my regular oven anymore.

  31. John Denman

    Never quite understood why ovens with fans are called convection ovens. Whether it has a fan or not, heating air to cook food is convection cooking. I’ll just call it forced air cooking.

    Forcing air flow is a way to distribute the heat more uniformly. In a typical fan-less oven the temperature sensor (usually a thermocouple) is located at one point and that happens to be away from the food. You may have the temperature set to 350° F, but when empty there will be at least a 50° variation. Add a 10x10x2 cake and the temperature differential will be over 125°.

    Add some airflow and that temperature differential is reduced. Most residential ovens will still vary by about 75° F.

    For a little extra credit, when you move the air fast enough to penetrate the boundary layer of air that hugs the top of any surface its considered impingement. Impingement can easily cut the baking time in half over the typical forced air oven, but enough about that.

    As a result of more uniform air temperature food will cook faster, but that’s not always a good thing. So for the residential user the alternative is to reduce temperature.

    Another thing to consider is what happens when you bake something from batter. Where does the heat really go?

    Generally about 75% of the heat goes to evaporate the water, and less then 25% actually heats the cake. As the water is evaporating, the air above the center is cooled, or in terms of an oven is “chilled”. Meanwhile the air also transfers heat to the container which conducts heat to the batter. That conduction inputs far more heat to the food then the air does.

    Its all about understanding some of the simple physics of what’s going on when food cooks, and from there you’ll be better able to predict how to cook with a “convection” oven.

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid , post author

      Couldn’t agree more, John. Are you sure you weren’t in one of my Cooking Theory and Food Science classes at NECI? 🙂 Susan

  32. Courtney

    I live at about 5000 feet above sea level, and recently received a countertop oven with a convection feature. I can’t bake a gazillion cookies in it, but I have noticed that compared to my regular, full sized oven, the plate full of cookies I bake with the convection on are not the sad flatness that I usually get in recipes not made or adapted for this altitude.

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid , post author

      Hi, Courtney. That makes perfect sense, because the convection will help to set the cookies’ structure faster, before the fat fully melts and the cookies spread. Try extra large eggs in your next recipe; that helps too. Susan

  33. Kate M

    Susan

    I am on my second kitchenAid gas convention oven. I adore them. I had to leave my first one when we sold our house. I had planned to take it with me and put a less expensive oven in its place. The buyer squealed and I had to leave. Both of my KitchenAids have had the usual bake/broil plus these other modes: bread proof, convention bake/broil/roast, and EasyConvect baked goods/meats/other foods. And it has a flame broiler. When I am baking a delicat fish but want to brown the skin I use the bake and broil for a few minutes. While my oven is costlier than regular ovens it comes no where near Vulcansor Wolfs. I use my convect mode for nearly everything. I have never had an issue with my fan distorting the finished product. It bakes amazing breads. In the winter I rise my bread in the oven and then bake. And I agree with you about dehydrating fruits and vegetables simply wonderful. As for crispy skin and wonderfully brown meats, amen and pass the potatoes and roasted vegetables.

    Simply put I couldn’t live with out my convection oven or at least I don’t want too.

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Kate, you make a great New Englander. Don’t tread on my oven, and give me my ovens or give me death! Spoken like a true believer. ~ MJ

  34. Terri

    I hate the new ovens. I don’t like using the convection setting. My oven will not hold the temperature. It’s up and down. I have a terrible time baking. I bought a thermometer to place in the oven and that’s how I realized temperatures bounced up and down by 50 degrees. I was going to break down and purchase another oven but I was told that all the ovens do this now because the bottom elements are hidden. Had above else had this problem. I hate my oven…Fisher Paykel.

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      So sorry to hear you are having so much trouble Terri. Anyone out there have any experiences to share? ~ MJ

    2. Pibby

      Love the theory of convection, but my now 10 yr old jennair double ovens (convect on top oven only) make me a wild woman when trying to do cookies with regular bake. The temp swing is 40 degrees up then 40 degrees down from my setting. Service tech said that was normal. Normal??? By whose rules? Convection worked a little better, but too hot in back so it’s rotate frequently to get more even results. Very frustrating. Was excited when the supposedly “better” appliances came with the home. Not so much any more… Back to sewing. Ha ha 🙂

    3. Susan Reid , post author

      Hi, Pibby. I hate to say it, but your service tech is mostly right. The techonology for thermocouples (the device that tells the heating element to come on) is basically a spring that expands and contracts with temperature changes. The normal range above and below a set temperature is 35°F. So a 70°F swing is, in fact, normal. For that reason I am not at all a fan of recipes that tell you to open the oven door and rotate pans. The best assurance of even heating is in good insulation and the discipline of keeping the door closed. Susan

  35. Kelly

    I have a GE profile with all these bells and whistles i have yet to learn to use. But i do use the convection bake for all my baking. I have not experienced lopsided muffins or cupcakes thankfully! and my cookies are evenly done. I believe the positioning of the rack within the oven may help and possibly different pans that allow for a more even air flow. I took the time to read the manual to better understand my oven and just love using convection baking! I have not tried out for roasted veg chicken, thanks!

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      I love to tease my husband about reading the direction first, it’s surprising how often we want to skip this essential step. Thanks for the reminder Kelly. ~ MJ

  36. Cindy H.

    Wonderful, helpful article. The last 2 batches of muffins that I’ve baked came out just like your picture & I had no idea why. My oven isn’t new & I’ve been using the convection setting almost exclusively, so it never occurred to me that it was the fan causing the trouble! Thank you.

    Reply
  37. Shari

    Thank you! This article really helps clarify what I’ve been experiencing. I had to buy a new oven a couple of years ago, and I got an Electrolux that can be either regular bake or convection. It can do a lot of other things too, I just haven’t gotten around to figuring them all out. All ovens are different, so all of the notes I’d written on all of my ‘tried and true’ recipes that I’d baked in my old oven don’t mean a thing anymore. I really haven’t noticed the convection being faster than regular bake, but I know what you mean about cookies browning unevenly. I really appreciate your tips on using the convection for dehydrating, and roasting, as I know I wouldn’t of thought of that on my own! Keep up the good work!

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      We’re always so happy when we can really reach out and strike a chord with our fellow bakers. Thanks to everyone for the great response. ~ MJ

  38. Steve

    I’m curious why a convection oven on top and regular on the bottom would give you more options than a convection on top and bottom. Are you not able to turn off the convection feature with the wall model you chose?

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid , post author

      Hi, Steve. Our newest pair of ovens has a top, convection unit whose fan does not turn off, even when it’s set to regular bake. That’s the oven the muffin above was baked in. Susan

  39. GardnCat

    Love my convection wall ovens! Mine have baking options of convection multi (high speed fan) or convection 1 rack (low speed fan) or non-convection. The set up programing had an option for automatically adjusting the temperature down when using a convection mode. I chose to turn that feature off so that I have more control. I bake a lot of artisan breads and roast lots of veggies so I use and love the convection settings! I also bake three sheets of cookies at a time and rarely need to rotate positions when use multi rack setting. Chickens roast beautifully with convection roast setting which uses the top element also for more browning.

    Reply
  40. mom244evermom

    I have a convection oven. My favorite feature? I can preheat my oven faster. For instance, if I want to preheat my oven to 375°, I set it to convection 350°. When it reaches that temp I switch it over to regular bake and proceed. Honestly, after living with it for 12 years or so I’m not at all sure it’s worth it. I do like it for roasting, but I don’t notice a huge difference. Baking, ironically, I find it’s too uneven.

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid , post author

      Totally agree with you on the preheat, but I’d still advise making sure it’s up to temperature for 10 full minutes before putting anything in it. Susan

  41. Barbara

    I have adjusted to using my GE Electric 30″ Convection oven/stove, which has two modes of baking, convection or just bake. I rarely use the convection for baking breads, although it is great for finishing off, when I want a nice overall browning. I have found that if used for the whole time, it over browns, even though it uses the lower temperature and still have to rotate the pans. We live at 5600 ft and it is very dry, so I don’t know if that is part of the issue and I should adjust the temp even lower. So when it calls for 350°, the convection automatically sets for 325°, seems pretty low already. Any ideas?

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid , post author

      Hi, Barbara. You have a couple of strikes against you at altitude, because yes, it is so dry. Usually we advise people to increase oven temperatures for bread at altitude, because the rise is so fast, and the trick is to set the outside of the bread before it goes too high. If I were you, I’d preheat to 375, which the oven will change to 350, put the bread in, and give it 10 minutes at that setting. Then go to regular bake, if your oven will allow, until the loaf is done. Susan

  42. Donna

    I can’t seem to turn the fan off completely on my KA oven. It has regular, convection & steam settings. I have the steam use down pretty good for artisan breads. But I end up cooking my NY cheesecake in my old non bell & whistle oven because the fan in the KA one seems to run even when not using the convection settings. With the fan, it seems to dry out the top too fast and it cracks every. single. time. even if the middle is runny. It doesn’t do that in my old oven. Ideas?

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid , post author

      Hi, Donna. I wouldn’t use a convection for cheesecake unless I absolutely had to. Any restaurant I’ve ever been in makes sure they have a nice, deep waterbath; if they ONLY have a convection oven, I’ve seen sheet pans put over the tops of the pans to keep them from drying out, exactly as you’ve noticed. You might try the same, if you have a metal pie pan, just putting it on top of the cheesecake pan and picking it up to check once in a while. Susan

  43. Brenda G.

    My new convection stove was just delivered yesterday. I’ve never had convection before, so I really appreciate this column. I roast root veggies, and potatoes and sweet potatoes all the time and am looking forward to trying it in my new oven.

    I bought my mom a Breville Smart Oven a few years ago. She loves it and now almost never uses her bigger oven. Her baking consists mostly of banana or apple bread, brownies, and roasting chicken, pork tenderloin, and pork chops. I plan to get one, too. There are times when I need an extra oven and this one seems like a great solution.

    Reply
  44. Barbara S

    I got one (gas) when we moved into our new to us home three days before thanksgiving. Come turkey day I got up at 6am to start my 22 lb turkey and could not find the manual on what temps etc to cook it with the convection oven. So my husband decides to check it out on You tube and finds one telling how to step by step. When she said that int he convection oven it only takes TWO hours to cook a 20 lb bird my mouth dropped open and my husband started laughing at my shocked expression. (I like to sleep late till 9am) . I could have slept in and still got that bird cooked in time. Two and a half hours total cooking time in the gas convection oven. I would not trade it for anything. 🙂

    Reply
  45. Susan Hanson

    I have had two convection ovens. The first one was electric and the current one is gas.
    I use the convection setting for nearly everything I bake or roast, and have never had a problem with a hot spot anywhere in either one. I typically have upwards of 20 people at my house for Thanksgiving dinner. Baking a minimum of 4 pies, and sometimes as many as 6, that oven with its 3 racks is a godsend. And it also does a great job on the turkey, with nice crispy skin.
    I’ve not found any problems with Christmas cookies, either.
    It sounds to me like the problems noted may be with certain makes and models, and not with others. Either that or it’s hit-or-miss from one oven to the next.

    Reply
  46. AnneMarie

    Loved reading all the comments and learning a few things! I’ve had a Wolf convection oven for 8 years now and don’t know what I would do without it. I’ve done a lot of experimenting and found that I don’t need to lower the oven temp. as suggested when using the convection mode for baking. Maybe it has something to do with our higher altitude, not sure. But I make sure to keep notes on the recipes of the time and temperature I’ve used. I hesitated about purchasing a warming drawer when I bought my oven but I am so very, very glad I did. Never thought I would use it but boy, was I wrong. Comes in handy for rising bread dough and so many other things.

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid , post author

      Hi, AnneMarie. I completely agree with you; when the fan size and speed are well matched to the size and configuration of the oven’s interior, convection is amazing. Some brands do this better than others. Also, where you place racks can make a huge difference. For delicate items like macarons, putting the rack slightly above the fan can shield them from the breeze. Glad to hear you’re getting the most out of your equipment! Susan

  47. Gloria Frawley

    I use my convection for lots of things but my very favorite is to cook my homemade buttermilk biscuits. Nice crust on the outside and soft and flaky on the inside. Love my Jenn Aire!

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid , post author

      Don’t you love that crispy outside, tender inside combination When they work, they sure do a great job. Susan

  48. Linda Painter

    I recently purchased a KitchenAid Convection/Bake/Broil/Toaster oven. But I am uneducated about how to use it. As far as making sure it is set for convection baking. The fan is not very loud but I’ve heard it a few times. Tried a can of Grands Orange Rolls the other morning. Top and bottom browned well but was raw in middle. If I had left any longer they would have burned. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid , post author

      Hi, Linda. Smaller ovens like yours will tend to amplify the effect of convection; less space for the air to move around in. For sure drop the recommended baking temperature at least 25° for your little oven; I’d give your next round a try at even 35°F below the temperature the directions are giving. Susan

  49. Tracey C

    One thing I learned very quickly about my convection oven: never turn convection on when what you’re baking has a steusel topping! Oy, what a mess.

    Reply
  50. Susan Johnson

    I have an ancient Carousel Convection Microwave by Sharp…and I do mean ancient…going on 35 years old. I use the convection feature frequently. Since the unit has a turntable, the food is constantly turning as it cooks so everything cooks evenly. I’ve also never had the pleasure of seeing cookies, or anything else, blown around my oven. I would buy another convection oven in a heartbeat, but, with any luck, I won’t have to!

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Wow, Susan! It reminds me of a bumper stick that used to be on a friend’s car “Have you hugged your wood stove today?” Have you hugged your oven lately? It sure deserves it! ~ MJ

  51. mintconditionherbfarm

    All the comments were extremely enlightening…I’ve had 2 convection ovens and am about to remodel my kitchen and replace one convection with another. And agree that the problems associated with convection isn’t necessarily with the convection but with the brands and models. Stove manufacturers seemed to have jumped on the “convection” bandwagon to promote ovens that really aren’t much more than a slightly insulated box with some sort of fan so they could claim “convection.” I’ve had a Kitchenaid that was fantastic; a Thermodore that was mediocre and barely holds heat. So I think the take away from this is do your homework and don’t just pay the extra for “convection” without really talking with people who use them, test them, and to ask questions. Our ovens/stoves are a huge investment in our kitchens both in the money we spend on them and the time we spend at them!

    Reply
  52. Nancy

    I’m an avid baker and recently bought an expensive convection oven. Maybe it’s the brand but we’re taking it out and ‘downgrading’ it to go back to the classic oven. It’s fine for fish and vegetables but it literally destroys baked goods. I also tested the Wolf at the showroom and found it to be so-so for baked goods. The $1500 GE did a better job. Definitely not impressed with convection for baking specifically.

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid , post author

      I hear you, Nancy. When the engineers start adding features “because they can” instead of in response to a challenge or problem that needs solving, it ends up being more work in the end for what should be a very straightforward process. Susan

  53. Carol

    I just purchased a convection/regular oven. Today I baked an angel food cake and the top of cake was burned while the bottom was golden brown like it should be. I used the regular oven as the manual said for angel food cakes, use the regular oven. It was also a teflon pan which I backed off the 25 degrees and baked at 325 like the cake box said. Where did I go wrong? It was also on the bottom oven shelf where I usually bake Angel food cakes. The fan runs whether it is on convection or regular bake. Should it?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      It sounds like a few questions for oven manufacturer, as well as a bit of a learning curve for the proud new owner. Check to see if your maker recommends reducing the temperature by 25 degrees to compensate for the more even heat with the fan. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

  54. Munira

    Opening up a cupcake shop and would like to buy an oven for baking the cupcakes in. Any advice on brand and size? Thank you

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Congratulations! It may be best to speak with various manufacturers or even bakers in your area to see which ovens work best in their commercial operation. Best wishes to you in your sweet venture. Irene@KAF

    2. Susan Reid , post author

      Best advice I can give is to make sure your commmercial oven has 2 working fan speeds, and to bake on the lower one. Never buy new commercial equipment if you can help it; best thing to do is keep an eye out for used or auction ovens. Plenty of food businesses go out of business or change hands, and 1 to 2 year old equipment is the best value. Susan

  55. Nancy M

    Ah! This explains why my chocolate chess pie made in my brand new convection oven was uneven! I thought it had not been installed level!

    NAM

    Reply
  56. Mike P

    I’ve been using an electric conventional oven for years and have always had great luck with baking bread. We recently bought a Samsung gas range wirh a convection oven, and it does almost everything beautifully, but I’ve not had any luck with bread in it. My loaves don’t raise like they do in the electric oven, and they’re almost always drier. I’ve checked the temperatures of both ovens and they’re within a couple of degrees of each other. I’ve tried convection and non-convection, with and without baking stones, with and without a water pan to create steam and I just can’t get satisfactory results.
    Any suggestions?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I would give our hotline a call so we can troubleshoot this personally. Our number is 855 371 2253. Jon@KAF

  57. Sebastian

    Hello, I`m thinking on going in to business in baking breads (banana, pear, apple, orange, etc..) and I was wondering if a convection oven is a good option for selling your product. I was wondering how many loaf pans you cram in one of those ovens and still cook them fast and evenly.

    I want an oven that can get me 5 or more banana breads in an hour or so. Is this possible? or will I be dissapointed.

    I hope you can answer, it would be of great help.

    Thanks,
    S

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Ovens vary so much that only your oven supplier knows for sure! They can advise about capacity and baking time. Wishing you well in your business. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

  58. Lee

    Thank you do much for the list. My banana bread has been not acting right, and I’ve been using convection setting. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We are happy to help, Lee! Hopefully your banana bread will be on the right track now. Elisabeth@KAF

  59. PJ

    I owned a cooking school for years and graduated from a culinary school in Paris. I worked with true convection ovens. In this great country of false advertising and reality versus marketing we are subjected to endless false statements Just because a company slaps the name convection on their range does not mean that it is truly convection. Most companies have a fan in their ovens and thus the ridiculous results as the lop sided muffins and burnt products when using convection. That is not by any stretch authentic convection. After using many many brands we settled on Dacor as they are the best convection on the market. We had Wolf, Viking (the worst) and in the beginning cheaper brands such as GE, Maytag etc..which we quickly dumped. I can cook anything but not on inferior ranges. I would not even consider buying a range unless you can take it for a test drive. That is one thing I liked about Dacor as they had test kitchens where one could see the results first hand. That sold me and served us well. Just remember that the sales people tell you whatever the manufacturer wants you to hear. Words are cheap and are simply adjectives made up by marketing firms to entice you to spend your money. I have a vacation home. We bought a Samsung range for about $1,500. After 2 1/2 years the oven stopped working and we were told the oven could not be repaired. Buyer beware.

    Reply
  60. SHS

    Just got a convection oven and spent the weekend experimenting. Today, before finding this advice, I made the tallest, fluffiest chiffon cake I have ever made. So, it is possible to use convection with light cakes. One thing to consider is rack placement. A convection oven will heat more evenly in more of the cavity, so no need to put a cake in the exact middle. Instead, look at where the fan blows from. Don’t put your pan where the fragile rising top will be right in front of the fan. Et voila.

    Considered a Dacor but needed a microwave/oven combo and beware, Dacor’s microwave ovens are just relabeled Sharps and get terrible reviews.

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid , post author

      Thanks for the report! This post seems to get more useful the longer it’s up. Susan

  61. sw

    Susan Reid (at King Arthur Flour):

    You of course mean: “Eventually it just plain BROKE through to the outside” not “busted through” [this is King Arthur Flour you’re writing for].

    And what’s with this “gazillion cookies” and “an oven you can be FRIENDS with”?

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid , post author

      Hi. If you’ve ever delved into some of the many, many conversations we’ve had with our customers on this site, you of course know that we strive for a friendly, unstuffy tone. We have hundreds of bakers onsite who name their starters, favorite frying pans, and other pieces of equipment. I’ve found through years of teaching that the more technical the subject, the more helpful casual language can be in smoothing the way to greater understanding.
      I have plenty of language cringe moments of my own (I am still lamenting the use of “impact” as a verb as opposed to knowing the difference between “affect” and “effect”. Susan Reid

  62. Judy Caudill

    My convection oven does a great job with bran muffins and no knead bread. The bread comes out great, I believe because of the steam generated by the pan of water on the bottom rack? Any other loaf of bread dries out the top of the bread before the loaf has a chance to rise. I hav’nt made my favorite Walter Sands bread since I bought the oven six months ago. Any suggestions?

    Also what have you covered the dough with in the picture?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      While it’s generally not necessary to steam a pan bread, that might help the top of the bread. The only way you’ll learn to swim is jump in the pool, so to speak. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

  63. Helen

    Re artisan breads – unless you’re baking in a Dutch oven or other covered receptacle convection poses problems. The beginning of the bake is done with steam to prevent the crust setting prematurely and limiting oven spring. Convection vents the steam out of the oven and prevents this, so the first 10-12 minutes should be without the fan unless the vents can be closed.

    Reply
  64. NK

    I need to buy gas oven range for my kitchen since I got my kitchen remodeled. I am not a heavy baker ,all I use oven for baking cake once in awhile or cookies or muffins. But I definitely trying to eliminate my toaster/oven counter shelf space. What kind of oven can be best for reheating leftover pizzas or frozen items like bagel bites ..
    Also I am looking for slide in gas range so I could have a stylish look of my backsplash . Do I need a slide in double oven which as of now is only made by GE or a Samsung slide in convectional oven would do the job ?
    Thank you for the feedback and suggestion

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid , post author

      I’m a little confused by your question. It sounds like you have gas at your house; are you looking for a range/oven unit all in one? Or a cooktop and separate ovens?
      Given the choice, I would choose gas for the stovetop and electric for the oven, but if you’re planning on a single unit, simply buy one that has a two-speed convection fan in the oven. The lower convection speed (usually called “convection bake”) is a good one for reheating. Susan

  65. Ethel mathey

    I have read all of your informative posts on convection baking.

    I just need a simple answer for baking bread in my LG electric convection oven.

    Am I to understand that I should use the convection roast setting? My panel ,also has a convection bake and just a bake setting

    Also, should I put the loaves on the middle rack to bake?

    I bake bread every week and would like to stop experimenting with my convection oven.

    Thank you for clarifying. I am 79 and just want a simple solution.

    By the way! I just recently starting reading your baking blogs They are great! Am currently working on sugar cookies. That blog was ever so helpful ,

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid , post author

      Greetings, Ethel. For your bread baking, I would stay away from convection roast, unless you happen to be making an artisan bread. Stay with just bake for sandwich loaves, and convection bake is good for a no-knead bread. I hope this helps. Susan

  66. Nancy

    Great post. We are avid bakers and love making everything from macarons to soufflés to breads. We moved into a house with a Bosch wall oven and it’s horrible. Of all their models, it’s the lowest rated. It takes forever to heat up, the convection makes everything lopsided, and the temperature swings are crazy – open the door for a minute to check doneness and the temp plummets 50 degrees (and then takes another 15 minutes to heat up). Needless to say, it’s putting a cramp in our baking style. We went to the Wolf showroom, thinking it was the best. After being subjected to a huge sales pitch, the chef pulled out horrible looking slice and bake cookies. The experience was a let ldown. We’ve been researching for months to find a new wall oven. There seems to be a consistent stream of people having major issues with all brands, no matter how much they cost. It seems that a lot of companies make their money off of repairs – not the initial sale– and many have cheap components. I have 2 questions: does anyone make a non-convection oven anymore? And, do you or anyone else know of an excellent wall oven for baking? We love baking and always use your products but honestly, I’m ready to give up. Seems like apartment ovens 10 years ago did a better job than the expensive ovens they’re pushing today. Any help greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Nancy, sorry to hear you’re having oven problems! While we don’t have an electric wall oven brand we recommend, maybe some of our readers can help you out! Barb@KAF

  67. Andrea J

    Thank you so much for this article!! It has helped clear up a lot of misunderstanding I had on an convection oven (had no idea you could bake regulary/shut off the fan).
    Thinking I’m going to go for it! Now to decide whether to do single or double oven… decisions…..

    Reply
  68. Rachel K.

    This was such a helpful article! We just moved into a house with an oven that has a convection option, and while I’ve been wanting to ry it, the manual didn’t have any explanation about the feature other than how to turn it on or off!!

    This is the third or fourth time I’ve ended up here at KAF to find answers to questions that I’ve had, and I so appreciate the depth of information you guys have on here! Not just “rules”, but explanations.

    Thanks for making my baking journey so much easier!!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We are overjoyed to know you have found our site so useful, Rachel. In case you didn’t know, we have a Baker’s Hotline too! Question for a baker? Please feel free to contact our Baker’s Hotline at 1-855-371-BAKE (Monday-Friday 7:00am-9:00pm EST, Saturday & Sunday 8:00am-5:00pm), and we’d be happy to provide you with further assistance at that time. Happy baking! Elisabeth@KAF

  69. Megan

    This post is so helpful Susan! I’ve just recently started working with a commercial convection oven for my sugar cookies so I’ve been doing a lot of research as I’ve found my cookies seem to turn out more brittle than they had in my home oven. They also don’t brown as well. So it makes shipping them out to people more difficult since they have a tendency to break. Definitely need to figure out how to change this in the convection oven I’m using!

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid , post author

      Hi, Megan. The fan is probably drying out your cookies a bit faster. I’m a little surprised at the lack of browning, but depending on the way the heat is traveling around I suppose that can happen. I hate to suggest a formula change, but it’s possible a little bit of milk or corn syrup in your dough may help with both of these issues. Susan

  70. poor cooker

    I do not understand why a simple fan can make an oven or range with oven, much more expensive.

    Forcing convection may be a great feature to have, but conventional ovens are indeed convection ovens, drilled bread pans allows a better convection flow in regular ovens.
    One may move it to the broiler in a range with oven and broiler to obtain better grated cheese, or roasted dish.

    Some ranges have an oven with an upper burner, in that case they are also broilers.

    Paying amounts like $1500,00 for the GE mentioned by Nancy mentioned above, seems insane to me. Maybe because I live in the third world, where that is a huge amount to pay for an oven.
    Unless it is for a big factory oven with a continuous band moving hundreds of loafs though it.

    Cookers who know their art, can make wonders with simple elements.
    A luxury oven, will never replace the skill of an artisan cooker. It is just that a luxury object.

    Having such budget, and a great passion for cooking on oven, I would prefer to build a rustic brick oven for better artisan results.

    Reply
  71. Rune

    Here in Norway, almost every oven is convection. And we for sure don’t have ovens with only a heating element at the bottom. I have never heard of that before. But have seen it on videos from America. Anyway. Here, it is like most people do not know when to use the hot air or not. So most tend to just use the oven conventional, with fans off. I wonder as well, what should I use?

    Normally, I use conventional heat, but put on the fan when or if I want something extra golden, or need to rush it to bake faster. Then I turn the temperature up instead of down when I switch to hot air, or just let it be at the same setting as before. But that’s not the best way of using convection.

    I have been working in a kitchen, and they had only convection ovens, with no other options than hot air. That is the standard in industrial kitchens. So it is used for everything, and the result is good. But not even baked, though. But it did happen that especially cheese slices on top of pizza came flying to the door and melted there. A mess, of course. But it can easily be prevented by heating up the oven. Turn of the fan, place the pizza in the oven and shut the door. Fan off. Let it sit there until the cheese starts to get sweaty and melt. Then it will not fly away.

    What I wonder, is if hot air will make baked goods rise higher, or prevent perfect rising? What is best to use for let’s say cakes? Or whole wheat bread with lots of fiber, will hot air make them rise easier? I also wonder when to use the middle and the bottom rack when you use conventional heating without fan? I know pizza should be at the bottom and things that need to be mostly baked on top should be at the top rack. But I am concerned about baked goods and rising again. Where in the oven will muffins have the best rise? I have read that higher heat and on top rack is best. But then again, popovers should be at the bottom, and they for sure rise very much. I guess I’ll just have to try different solutions, and see what happens.

    I like Betty Crocker Devil’s Food Cake, the powder you know, and that is what I want to bake next. I have made that cake many times, and I know it will look like a perfect volcano. And that is not a good thing. I have always used the middle rack, regular heat with fans off. But now I want to try something different to see if I can get a flat cake top for once, like I have seen that apparently everybody in America gets, every time. At least on Youtube. If I can get a flat top, that will be the first time ever, and I am 40 years old. So you can imagine that a volcano is what I expect and are used to. That is what I consider normal. I forgot to mention that our Norwegian ovens are way smaller than American ovens. I have seen on Youtube those gigantic ovens you have. Our are not like that, about 1/3 smaller or so. So the baked goods will be closer to the heating element. Maybe that is the volcano maker?

    Well, happy baking, folks!

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid , post author

      Hello, Rune. I will try to answer as many of your questions as a I can. I loved the flying cheese story 🙂

      Conventional ovens do a perfectly fine job of baking just about everything; they just take a little longer. For a cake, I would not use a convection oven if I had a choice. Muffins, depending on how liquid the batter is, can do fine in convection, but the temperature should be dropped a bit. There is a LOT of metal surrounding muffin batter, so they tend to go quickly in a hot oven.

      In general I bake almost everything with the rack set at or just below the center of the oven, so whatever I am baking is equidistant from every oven surface. In your country, where the ovens are so much smaller, this can be even more critical. I put pies a little lower, to give them more heat on the bottom and avoid a soggy crust.

      For your Betty Crocker cake, cake strips would help you avoid the volcano. That happens when the sides of the cake are set before the center can heat through. If you don’t have cake strips, I recommend placing your layers inside a slightly larger pan, and putting 1 to 2 centimeters of water in the larger pan. This will slow down the heat transfer and give you a more even layer.

      Almost forgot: whole grain breads are fine in convection; the quicker heat gives breads a nice oven spring, and the bread will likely be a little higher. I hope this helps. Susan

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