Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Bake-off: Convection vs. gas ovens

My oldest has been interested in baking, namely in wanting one of those Easy Bake ovens. Not wanting to spend money on a play oven, I replaced our old (and extremely dirty) toaster over with an Oster convection/toaster oven. Though the manual is completely useless (no recipes or information on adaptations), we love it for roast chicken and baked potatoes!
Inspired by our recent school's science fair ("what's the best pencil sharpener?", "which hamster can find food the fastest?, "what cleans a penny the best?"), I decided to do a comparison between the mini convection oven and gas oven for baked goods.

First up, was double chocolate cookies from Donna Hay, the Australian version of Martha Stewart. It is from her absolutely beautiful dessert book (the photographs are so yummy), Modern Classics: Book 2. I've only baked several of the the jury is still out on this one. These cookies were yummy, but another one was not.

The one on the right is the convection oven. Not only did it result in a higher cookie, but it was almost overbaked. I completely forgot to adjust the temperature and time (it's good to start about 25 degrees lower with a shorter baking time).
Next are Orange Cranberry Brioche rolls, which are great for holidays, and the convection ones are on the right. Despite the temperature reduction, they started browning midway (I should have tented with foil to reduce the amount of browning) but it was undercooked on the bottom. It had to be removed from the pan for more even cooking. For pan rolls, a darker (i.e. non-stick) pan is needed to help with more even browning.
This recipe was from the local newspaper...very yummy but hard on the Kitchen Aid (about 30 minutes of constant mixing).

In conclusion, the convection oven can create better baked goods, but experimentation and adaptations are needed.