Friday, December 9, 2011

Convection Oven: A Learning Curve

I've been experimenting with the new convection ovens for almost a week now. I'm ready to declare them a success.

First, look at this stove top. Two dual sized burners at the front, 2 small burners at the back, and the circle in the middle is a "keep warm" burner. Yep, poke a little button on the control panel and it will hold something at a warming temperature, so you can use the real burner to cook something else. I'm thinking it would be handy for something like mashed potatoes.
I've never seen an oven with 3 racks before. My girls will have to try out baking 3 racks of cookies at once when they get home; I really and truly don't like baking cookies. That's probably because I know at least 5 or 6 dozen will never make it beyond the cooling rack, and it's frustrating to have little to show for all that work. But the girls will spend a few hours together baking quadruple recipes of cookies that won't last more than 2 days, and enjoy beating their brothers off with wooden spoons. It's very entertaining, really.

Now, on to what you want to know: cooking.

Meat: Fabulous. I've made turkey breast, boneless chicken breast, ham, roast beef and fish with the convection oven. I cooked them all at the same temperature as I would have used in the conventional oven, but for 1/4 to 1/3 less time, and using exactly the same seasonings I've always used. The flavor was much better. Everyone has said the same thing every night. My dearly beloved and I don't even like boneless chicken breast (it was a goof by my food supplier), because it tends to be dry, but the flavor was greatly improved. Katie, I'll be happy to give you more specifics if you want them; just let me know.

Baked goods: Yeast bread: Winner! The crust is evenly browned, and the loaf cooked in about 19 minutes instead of 25. The crust was also a little crunchier and nicer, but not thicker.

Cake and Banana Nut Bread: Not as big a fan. Both cooked about 25% faster (28 minutes for the Bundt cake instead of 39 to 42, and 48 minutes for the nut bread instead of 65 minutes). Because the rising of goods leavened with baking powder and baking soda is dependent upon oven heat, my yellow cake and nut bread didn't rise as much, and were therefore denser. They got eaten (as the end of the banana bread here shows), just weren't as much enjoyed. I made another yellow cake and a loaf of cranberry nut bread using the conventional bake cycle, and they were exactly as expected. So I'll be baking these goods with the conventional cycle unless I'm in a huge hurry.

Brownies were a resounding success. I made 3 batches of brownies this week, using the Pampered Chef stoneware pan and fudge brownie mix (my kids hate scratch brownies). None lasted more than 18 hours, including sleep time. They were fudgy throughout, no raw spots in the middle, no hard edges. 24 minutes cooking time instead of 32 minutes. This will be the formula for brownies in my house forevermore. Thank you, Chan, for the stoneware pan, which I would otherwise never have tried. (She sells great Pampered Chef stuff without you having to attend a party, if anyone wants something. Just saying.) No pictures of brownies, what with them not lasting and all. Sorry.

But I can't leave you with all this food and no recipe, so how about that chocolate frosting on the yellow cake above? Ryan found it in a cookbook and begged for it (he always wants "exciting" frosting).

1/4 cup butter
1 pound confectioners sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup buttermilk OR
2 tbsp buttermilk powder plus water to thin the frosting

Place all the ingredients in your mixing bowl. Start with the smallest amount of buttermilk or water, then add more to make the frosting creamy. Plenty to frost a 9x12 cake, 2 round layers or a Bundt cake.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend, not too stressful before Christmas, Hanukkah or whatever other holidays you celebrate!


Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Sounds like you have had lots of fun experimenting, I am glad it is so successful. Mmmmm, Nigel would love that chocolate icing, not saying I would not love it as well LOL. Diane

Sue said...

My stove has a warming burner and it's great for gravies. Wish I had your girls here to help with cookies. I get tired of them half way thru.

christo AKA doggybloggy said...

I use convection at work and it is great - using my conventional oven now at home feels prehistoric...

Two French Bulldogs said...

can'tget the great cooking interupted
Benny & Lily

Claire S. said...

Yeah, I get tired baking cookies too ! LOL ;-)

Big Dude said...

When we bought ours, the sales person said the rule of thumb was to cook 25* cooler and several minutes less. Bev prefers the convection/bake for most things since the bottom element still provides some of the heat. As much as you bake, I'm sure you'll have it nailed quickly.

Mickle in NZ said...

As with Larry's comment, when baking if I use the fan I knock the temperature back or just don't use the fan/convection.

Am delighted that otherwise your results are so good, and of the warmer burner in the middle of the cooktop (wow). Mine has two fixed size and two dual options elements (it is a ceramic cooktop).

Happy cooking for you and cookie making for the girls - and tell them to get those bothers (the missing "r" is not a typo) baking too!!!

SissySees said...

Thanks for the shout-out and for the insight in convection baking/cooking.

Linda said...

I quite like my convection oven. It does tend to dry baked goods out until you figure the time/temp out but I know I wouldn't go back.