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 Convection Ovens and Cooking

First, the terms convection and fan-assisted oven refer to the same type of oven. These are ovens where the air is circulated over and around the food being cooked in the oven. Sounds simple doesn't it, but nothing could be further from the truth! As a very general rule, cook food in a convection oven at 20C / 50F lower than a normal oven. But read on if you want the full story.

In truth, you really need to experiment with your own convection oven to work out how to adjust cooking times. The reason for this is that different ovens use different methods of circulating hot air through the oven, they also use different methods of heating the air. The final complication occurs concerning exactly what you are cooking and how large it is.

A conventional will typically have two heating elements, one at the top and one at the bottom of the oven. These heat the air in the oven to a given temperature and this cooks whatever you have in the oven.

The best designed convection oven have, in addition, a fan at the rear of the oven which sucks cool air into the oven. The fan, ideally should be behind a baffle which will deflect the air sucked in and circulate it evenly around the oven interior. The air sucked in is heated by a third heating element ensuring that all the air in the oven is at an even temperature.

The above describes the best convection ovens. Other, less efficient convection ovens may not have a baffle which will result in an uneven flow of air and therefore less even cooking. Some others use fans which blow air out of the oven which also results in less even cooking.

The other variable in using a convection oven is what you are cooking. In general, the larger and denser the food being cooked, the less effective is the convection oven. For example, if you place a 1kg / 2lb piece of meat in a convection oven, it will cook it evenly. But place a 7kg / 15lb turkey in the oven and the outside will cook much faster than the interior of the bird. This is because the moving air in a convection oven will sear and seal the outside of a large turkey but the moving air will be ineffective at improving the cooking of the centre of the large bird. Heat, and only heat will cook the central meat.

So, the above variables indicate that some experimentation will be required to get the best from your convection oven. By all means use the 20C / 50F less rule as a starting rule, but adjust it as you become more experienced using your oven.

 
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