You might think you’re the next Gordon Ramsay, but do you really know the ins and outs of your kitchen or are you someone that simply finds their way around minus an instruction book? If the latter is you through and through, you’ll definitely want to check out our handy guide to one of your most-used kitchen appliances: the humble oven. Read on…
So, how does an oven actually work?
We doubt this question has kept you awake at night but we reckon you’ll be pretty surprised at how an oven works anyway. In short, most ovens are insulated metal boxes that contain two heating elements – one on the top of the oven and one on the floor of the oven.
In the preheating stage, both these elements heat up but when you’re baking, the heat comes from the bottom instead. Cycling on and off to keep the temperature at an average, the bottom heating element is cleverer than perhaps you first thought. It works like this: if, say, you set your oven at 300F, the temperature can fluctuate slightly but over time it’ll average out to 300F.
It’s hotter at the top of the oven, too. The reason for this is because its heating element doesn’t stay on all the time. So, if you need the oven to lightly brown something on the bottom, you’ll want to put it on the lowest rack down.
Want something to brown on the top? The upper rack’s the place to start.
Oven racks: Is position important?
How important is a good rack (ahem!) or, you know, the position of it? We are, of course, talking about your oven rack here and the answer is ‘very important’.
It’s not just a case of ‘one rack position fits all’ when it comes to cooking tips; instead, you’ll want to adjust yours accordingly – and entirely depending on what you’re cooking or baking.
Make sure you follow the directions in your recipe. It could say anything from ‘set your rack in the bottom third of the oven,’ or simply ‘bake your cake in the centre of your oven’, but do be aware that if you don’t follow these simple directions you could be setting yourself up for a fall. Or, you know, a sorry-looking, sunken cake.
Oven Safety: Some Useful Cooking Tips
So, by now you probably know a little more about how things work in the kitchen. Or at the very least you’ll have discovered why your pies keep burning from the top yet not cooking all the way through?
If you’re itching to get back into the kitchen (we’re poets and we didn’t know it!) bear some of these useful safety tips in mind before you do.
- Oven gloves are your friends; don’t be tempted to lift out that pie without them
- Oh, and don’t line the grill pan with aluminium foil, either – that’s an accident waiting to happen!
- Turn the cooker off when not in use – a given really, but it’s suprising how many people forget
- Before switching on the oven or grill, make sure the shelves are in their correct position
- Food spills in the oven or on the hob? Wipe them immediately to prevent the risk of a fire.
So there you have it! A few handy hints that’ll make getting in the kitchen to cook up a storm even more appealing.