Check It, Before You Wreck It

You followed the recipe exactly, but your favorite casserole still isn’t browning. Not like it’s your first time in the kitchen, you paid the electric bill, and you’re hopefully not using an EZ Bake, so what’s the deal?
It might just be your own oven to blame (shocking gasp). If you’re like me and have an oven circa the-beginning-of-time, then odds are your internal oven temp varies like the secret ingredient on Iron Chef. (Venison ice cream…really?)
There is an easy way to diagnose & solve this appliance aggravation – an internal oven thermometer. Seems so simple; I can’t believe I never thought of it before. You can find them online & at specialty cooking stores, but I found one at Target. Wallet friendly at only $10. 

How crucial is this? It depends. If just heating-up a frozen burrito, you’re probably safe. If your oven is 25 degrees under temp & you’re roasting a large chicken, then it’s looking like you might be late to your own dinner party. I was inclined to check my oven after noticing some variability when making my same ole’ baked goods. I decided it was time for investigating…

The little Taylor brand thermometer I purchased can hang from an oven rack or sit flatly. So, let’s test her out!

Preheat as normal & after at least a good 15 min, it’s as simple as opening the oven & checking the thermometer gauge. If you set the oven to 350 and it says 345-355, you’re doing alright. If you set it at 350 and it says 380, then maybe burning all of those cookies wasn’t entirely your fault. Same goes if the temp dips below what you set it to. That can royally mess up baked goods that require a more precise cooking window. Try a few different temps on the spectrum and areas in the oven to see what you get. The experts say oven variance is common at an average range of 20-30 degrees; seems like a lot to me.

Drum roll please…I have concluded official temperature trials & the verdict is that my ancient oven is not far off, but disconcertingly far off!! I set the oven for 350 & waited 30 min. I checked the thermometer temp (Gauge was positioned in the middle of the oven) and it yielded just below 300 degrees, uhhh huh? Over a 50 degree variance, I knew it! After recent batches of my cookies ended up puffy & undercooked, I just couldn’t put a finger on it. I even bought all new flour, but indeed it is my spastic oven. I’m relieved to find out because on the scale of normal temp fluctuations, mine seems a real overachiever.

If you feel like you’re seeing varied results with the same items, go get yourself one of these internal thermometers and do a test. You might be able to correct a simple issue & once again perfect your favorite dishes…

Now I can regulate my oven accordingly & get back to cooking without the mystery of uneven crusts & underdone middles. Happy Baking!

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Welcome to the dinnervine!

Thank you for visiting the dinnervine! In the words of Julia Child, "People who love to eat, are always the best people," and I couldn't agree more. I hope you enjoy these dishes as much as I did making them. Here's to creating new recipes and memories with friends & family, cheers! 

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