Convection vs. Conventional Oven – If you bought a new oven in the last ten years, it’s likely that convection has been available as an option or installed in your current oven. Do you utilize it? Do you know how to use it? When we talk about baking or roasting, little is said regarding convection oven. For many years, I have had convection in my ovens, but it has mostly been an afterthought. Why is that? Am I the only one who feels this way? Let’s look at the benefits and drawbacks of Convection vs Conventional Oven and see what difference they make to me as I have two identical wall ovens.
Is the convection oven superior for every use? Is it necessary to abandon using standard oven settings entirely in favor of using a convection oven? This may make you question when and where to use each of these options. Let’s take a look at both and see how they function and where they’re best used.
What exactly is a convection oven, and how does it work? Simply said, it’s an oven with fans that blow air around. This allows for greater heat transfer and speeds up the cooking process, resulting in a more uniform result. All of this while using less energy. My oven has a feature that converts recipes’ timing and temperature to a convection temperature and time. It also has a fan speed setting with low, medium, and high options. What’s the difference in timing and temperature then?
We may not think of it often, but all ovens cook differently from one another. To illustrate this point I set up an identical test comparing two wall ovens using the same recipe. Convection ovens distribute heat equally around the food, eliminating the blanket of cooler air that envelops food when it is initially put in an oven and allowing foods to cook more evenly in less time and at a lower temperature than conventional ovens.
Wow, what a fantastic idea! Why not use it for everything then? Let’s look at how a regular oven works. In a conventional or traditional oven, heat is expelled from the wall of the oven. Heat reaches the food and cooks it. I’ve always admired this technique and have faith in it. So, how does this compare to convection?
Let’s say you have two identical ovens. You place the same recipe in each at the same time, set to 475 degrees F. The conventional oven cooks your meal for 25 minutes while the convection oven cooks it for 18 minutes. This is due to convection’s powerful combination of heat and fans.
WHY USE A CONVECTION OVEN?
- Faster Cooking – best oven for baking is about 25% faster than normal cooking..
- Even Cooking – In a convection oven, food cooks and browns more uniformly. A normal oven has hot spots that can cause uneven cooking. When baking cookies, you may notice this when some are done sooner than others. The air circulates in a convection oven, which allows for greater uniformity of heat distribution.
- Better Browning – The outside cooks faster and more uniformly because the air circulates, leaving the center juicy.
- Energy Saver – Convection ovens heat at a lower temperature and cook food faster than conventional ovens. When cooking, the temperature in the oven is reduced by 25 degrees. If your setting isn’t adjusted automatically, reduce it yourself. Reduce the temperature of a 350F oven to 325F while using convection mode.
WHEN TO USE A CONVECTION OVEN?
- Cookies – Both my ovens, as well as the convection oven, worked better. Cookies were baked quicker, more uniformly, and browned better when I used this method.
- Roasting – I’ve roasted a pork roast, chicken and vegetables, and not only were they darker, cooked faster, and more juicy on the inside, but they were also browner. With the fan blowing across the outside of the roast, you can’t always get that with an ordinary oven. However, for some roasts and fish- be careful of a
- Pies and Pastries–Due to the high fat content, pie and pastry dough will cook lighter and flakier.
- Cupcakes, Cakes and Breads – Cakes, cupcakes, and bread are a touch more divisive. I compared the results of baking cupcakes in both types of ovens and, while they were comparable in terms of appearance and texture, I felt that the convection oven produced superior results.Different types of breads perform differently. Some claim that the interior will be drier. I leave this decision to you, but don’t forget to reduce the temperature by 25 degrees and cook for 40 minutes.
- Braising and Covered Casseroles –It is okay to speed up the cook time if the lids are on or foil (if wrapped well, otherwise the fan will blow off the foil). If these are exposed to heat, I would use a conventional oven.
- Toasting and Dehydrating – A quality dehumidifier will evaporate all the moisture in the air; however, you can hasten this process by using a wet vacuum. You should turn on both of these at the same time to expedite the procedure.
WHEN NOT TO USE A CONVECTION OVEN?
- Custards or Flans –The outside becomes hardened and nasty.
- Souffles and Wet Cakes and Cupcakes – A basic cake should be fine, but not an angel food cake or anything that has a wetter batter than usual. The fan can send souffles and cakes flying, resulting in a catastrophic outcome.
- Quickbread, Sandwich and Sweet Breads – This is only from reading and there was no additional information given.
If you don’t feel like purchasing a new convection oven, why not start with one? Start out slowly and gradually increase the things that you bake and roast in a convection. I’ve discovered a brand-new interest for myself! That’s something we can all agree on!