Many homeowners have ovens, but a majority may not realize that there are two types of ovens: conventional and convection. Though the two are nearly indistinguishable, they do differ on one defining feature. Convection ovens contain an additional fan and exhaust system that blows heated air through the entire space while your food cooks. In fact, this feature can be switched on and off, so a convection oven could, technically, be used as a conventional oven. And if you're wondering why one would get a convection oven over a conventional oven, it all comes down to a more even distribution of heat and faster cook time. But convection ovens can dry out food and cook the outside before the inside is finished rising. You can avoid this by using a conventional oven and knowing how to use it properly.
When to Use a Conventional Oven
Certain recipes should only be baked in a conventional oven. Those recipes include anything delicate that can be blown about the oven with a convection fan, such as cakes, flans, custards and soufflés.
Cooking times are based on a preheated oven, so preheating is essential before the food goes in to cook. Most ovens will beep once they've reached their desired temperature, signaling that it's okay to put the food inside and start the timer.
The Difference Between Bake and Broil
Baking is used to cook foods, such as chicken, potatoes, fish, cookies and cakes. It cooks your food from the outside in, and you can check if your food is done baking by examining internal temperatures with an oven thermometer. Make sure to keep the oven door closed while your food is baking, as opening the door my extend cooking time.
Broiling, on the other hand, cooks foods, such as steaks, hamburgers and chicken breasts, under direct heat and can be done on an outdoor grill. Some ovens require the door to be closed for the broiler to work, others require it be open. Take heed of where you position your racks – if they're positioned too close to the broiler, your food may get burned. Also, make sure you're using a safe baking dish. Pyrex dishes, for example, are not broiler safe.
A warming drawer keeps your food warm, and is great if you're having a party and waiting for your guests to arrive. The oven remains at a warm temperature, keeping your meal hot and delicious.
Caroline is a writer from NYC. Her writing has appeared in L.A. Weekly, Elle.com, New York Magazine, Marie Claire and The Huffington Post. She produces content on women's health/wellness, design/DIY and business for companies such as Meredith Corporation, Leaf Group and the business school, Hautes Études Commercials Paris. She's a former Production Associate and blogger at Show of Force, the production company behind Nicholas Kristof's and Sheryl WuDunn's, Half the Sky.