I recently enrolled in a 3-month evening course in pastry-making at a local culinary school and because I’ll be using my oven a lot I decided it was time to check the temperature and recalibrate the oven if necessary. I recalibrated the oven when I moved into this house but that was eight years ago. Time to do it again.
First, some basics about how your oven’s thermostat works. If you set your oven temperature at 350F it does not hold it at a rock-steady 350. It will overshoot to some higher temperature and then shut off. The oven will then cool to some predetermined lower temperature at which time it will start heating up again. (Adjacent illustration courtesy of Thermoworks)
The mid-point between these two temperatures should correspond to value you set on your oven’s thermostat. If you are like most people, it doesn’t.
I used my Thermoworks ChefMagic oven thermometer, but any good oven or BBQ thermometer should work. I did buy Thermoworks Hi-Temp Air Probe and used it instead of the food probe. You could use the food probe but you’ll want to figure out a way to suspend it so that the probe is not touch the oven grate.
The ChefMagic has a great feature in that it will store the max and min temperatures encountered, so I didn’t have to stand over the oven watching the temperatures. If your thermometer doesn’t have that feature you just have to watch it and record the highest and lowest temperature you see. It’s helpful to let it run through 2-3 high-low cycles just to make sure your oven is operating consistently.
I set the oven’s thermostat to 350F, and found that the average ‘high’ temperature was 385 and the low was 355. The mid-point between those two temperatures is 370F, meaning that my oven runs 20 degrees hot. With my old oven I would have had to remember that figure and set the oven thermostat 20 degrees lower when baking. Fortunately my current oven has the ability to enter and save a correction factor, so now when I set the oven control to 350 it will actually be 350.
Now I’ll have to try that failed biscuit recipe again.