Hi, welcome to this blog post regarding gourmet cooking, high-end ingredients, and the pursuit of the quality eating experience!
Today, we are using WHITE BREAD, the finest of all breads.
Just kidding. Didn’t mean for you to drop your kale shake while you clutched your ascot scarf in outrage.
I mean, this post IS simply using White Bread. But I’m using the saddest of sad breads* to test an important tool in my kitchen: the oven.
I’ve heard about ovens not being totally accurate or consistent. I stumbled upon this article which I recommend you read. In short, it focuses on the evolution of the oven and the manufactures’ labeling of oven heat. However, it’s most likely not an accurate indication of how hot it actually is in your oven.
Take-aways for the cook wanting to better themselves: get an oven thermometer or wait 10 minutes after the oven claims it has reached your desired temperature.
Pro take-away: get a “feel” for how long certain foods should be at the oven and for how hot it should be. Get to know your oven. Get well acquainted with it. Friend it on Facebook.
The other issue with ovens (other than inaccurate heating) is that your oven may not cook what is inside it evenly. That means some spots in the oven may be hotter or cooler, known as spots. I’ve seen some good blot posts and articles on this subject.
To get to know one’s own oven, it is recommended to test it out, using a test called the Oven Hot Spot Bread Test (I made up that name).
How do you do it? Very easy. Line up white bread on the racks, heat up the oven, wait until the bread starts browning (or burning), pull out the bread in the same configuration it was in, and see how evenly the bread was cooked.
Here are my results:
This test gives me some useful information to work with (top sheet of baked bread in the picture is from the top shelf of the oven). Take a look at the differences in trays, and how some corners are not as baked (or baked even more).
Obviously, the bottom tray of bread was hotter, or at least cooked the bread faster. My initial thought: it seems that the bottom tray in my oven is clearly the hotter part of the oven.
But thinking about it more, it could be that there was more heat REFLECTED off the bottom of the cookie sheet that was sitting on the top tray of the oven. I am not sure which explanation is correct, but I know that my oven does not cook things evenly.
I will most likely turn dishes/sheets around in the oven if I am cooking. You should to, just to make sure everything is cooked evenly.
In the end, I still used the White Bread: I crushed it into bread crumbs that I will use in the future.
*Snobbery aside, White Bread is a big part of people’s eating lives, especially while growing up, so “sad” is really an unfair, elitist and extreme description of this bread. Granted, I stay away from it now at all costs, but this bread has brought happiness to many people with a simple PB+J, and in the end, I feel bad for making fun of it for the benefit of attracting hardcore, hipster foodies**.
** I desperately want to be a hardcore hipster foodie.