A selection of homemade holiday cookies is a wonderful treat to offer your friends and family during the holiday season and one of the most useful tools that can make holiday baking a breeze is a Convection oven, however, since recipes rarely reference how to bake in Convection here are some tips that should ensure success.
Baking in a Convection oven can be confusing because the cooking modes vary from oven to oven but the basics for baking in Convection are:
1) Always reduce recipe temperatures by 25° when baking in a Convection mode.
2) The correct rack position is very important, check the User Manual for the manufacturers guidelines.
3) Smaller ovens will cook faster than large ovens so always check for doneness a little in advance when baking in a smaller oven.
4) When baking on multiple racks use the same type of pan on each rack to achieve even results.
5) Don’t use cushion-air pans when baking in Convection they are designed to improve baking results in radiant heat ovens.
6) When baking with dark colored pans or glass dishes reduce recipes temperatures by 30° to avoid over browning.
Baking 3 Racks of Cookies in Convection
Some wall ovens feature several Convection baking modes while range ovens often feature only one. If your oven has both a Convection and a Convection Bake Mode these modes are designed to be used as follows:
Convection – in this mode the heat is generated only from the Convection element on the back wall of the oven and circulated by the Convection fan. This mode is ideal for baking multiple racks of cookies, scones, choux pastry and puff pastry appetizers. We find using flat cookie sheets with a slight lip on each edge gives the most even results.
Convection Bake – in this mode heat comes from the bottom and top elements and the Convection fan circulates the heat so foods on several racks will cook evenly. This mode is designed for foods that benefit from more bottom heat such as pies, breads, pastry and heavy dense batters such as banana breads, quiche or casseroles.
If your oven only has a Convection Bake mode you can still bake cookies on three racks at one time or bake several racks of pies at one time but be sure to pay attention to the rack positions. Cookies cooked on the bottom rack of a gas oven for example will probably burn on the bottom but the bottom rack is ideal for baking breads pies and pizza.
Foods cooked or baked in Convection have more moisture retention so you will find that regular Bake or radiant heat is still an ideal mode for many baked items to achieve the correct crumb consistency. For example Red Velvet Cake that has a very light texture practically falls apart when cooked in Convection so results are much better in regular Bake. Soufflés, angel food cake, meringues and popovers all cook better in regular Bake because of the drying characteristic to radiant heat.
Single Rack Baking In Traditional Bake Mode
Baking in Convection may sound complicated but in fact it is very easy, just take a minute to think about which heating elements in the oven that will give you the best results and remember Convection is a strong driving heat that retains moisture in food whereas Radiant heat is more gentle and drying. Always set your racks into the correct position before heating the oven, use the right pans and check for doneness a little ahead of the recipe time until you understand how your oven bakes….they are all a little different!