So you’re cooking a roast dinner and the chicken’s done before the potatoes. Or you’re cooking two tiers of a cake and one is golden whilst the other is still pale and doughy. We’ve all been there, there’s no need to hang your head and bemoan your culinary skills. Blame your oven instead!
Yes, it’s very likely your oven could be causing your food to cook unevenly. Luckily we’re here to tell you how to fix it.
Your Oven: The Guilty Culprits
Most ovens will have hot spots, but particularly uneven cooking can be a sign of an element (the part in your oven that gets hot) which is about to fail. So replace it before you’re left without heat completely. Open up your oven to get a look at the element; if it appears patchy that’s a sign it could be faulty and you can test it with a multimeter to be certain. Fitting a new element is simple and you don’t even need to move your appliance in most cases.
Here’s Rory fitting a new element in a fan oven:
A faulty oven thermostat can also cause the aforementioned uneven cooking scenarios. You can buy an oven thermometer to check the actual heat of your oven if you suspect it’s not reaching the right temperatures. If you find you need a new oven thermostat the good news is it’s another fix you can complete yourself at home. To demonstrate here’s Rory again:
Dirt & Grease
A dirty oven will also cook less evenly than a clean one. There’s a bona fide fact right there for you. So no excuses; give your oven a good scrubbing. You can use a specialist oven cleaner or, if you want to go chemical free, a paste of baking soda and water left on your oven walls for a few hours then spritzed with vinegar should do the trick.
eSpares Tip: Protect your baking trays in future (and avoid pesky scrubbing) by covering them in kitchen foil or re-useable baking sheets.
Even Cooking Top Tips
Once you’ve got your oven up to scratch keep these tips in mind for evenly cooked food in future.
- Get to know your oven – either by paying attention to the areas which cook quicker when preparing your dinners or with a simple bread test. Lay some slices of white bread out on each oven shelf and turn the oven on. The browning of each slice will let you see which areas cook more or less. (You may wish to pop some beans on the hob at the same time so all that toast doesn’t go to waste…)
- Oven shelves are removable for a reason. Experiment with different positions for your shelves to discover the best cooking results.
- Check the recipes of the foods you’re cooking. They may let you know the optimum oven position to best cook the dish.
- If in doubt, position food as close to the middle of the oven as you can; food in the centre tends to cook more evenly.
- Turn your food throughout the cooking process. But bear in mind that each time the oven door is opened the oven loses heat so this isn’t a good idea for all recipes and is best done halfway through the cooking process at the earliest.
Now you’re on the right track to avoid lopsided cakes or dry overcooked chickens in future! If you’re already a baking guru and have more tips to get perfectly cooked food every time don’t keep them to yourself! The comments section is there for a reason…