So, What’s Up With Convection Baking!
These days, convection ovens are a regular part of the appliance package in some of the new homes all over the country. Even though they’ve been around several years (we’ve had ours 14 years), most folks aren’t too sure how to use them. Honestly, at our house, we learned by trial and error way back when… and many a good cookie gave up it’s gooey deliciousness in our pursuit of convection knowledge. But, we prevailed and love convection baking so much we’ve used this option almost exclusively ever since. We are going to share some handy tips to help get you in that saddle and bake up a convection storm!
How Do I Use My Your Convection Oven, You Ask?
Well let us tell you! Let’s start with the fact that “convection” is simply an optional setting on your oven. There’s usually a button or switch on your control pad to control it. Once you “flip the switch”, you’re baking with convection heat. But when it’s off, it’s a business as usual, regular oven.
When that convection setting is on your oven heats like normal but engages a fan and exhaust system that will blow and then pull hot air all through the oven and around the baking food. This helps the air all around your food keep a steady temperature, and your mouth watering masterpiece comes out a bit more quickly and cooked throughout more evenly. Oh, and this exhaust system will also pull the moisture out of the oven, so things will be a bit more brown and crispy!
One of the very first things we learned was to lower the suggested oven temperature in your recipe by a solid 25°F. Truthfully, it wasn’t the first thing…. More like the 6th. Maybe the 10th. Okay, it was a science project at some point but we were determined! Using a lower baking temperature is a must because using convection allows for more efficient baking. You just don’t need as high of a temperature to get your desired end result.
Which leads to our next bit of advice! When you’re at about the halfway point in the required bake time, take a sneak peek and check things out in there. Actually, do this frequently the last several minutes as well. Things are going to cook more quickly than when on the regular oven settings. Don’t necessarily depend on the timer. Poke around a bit, see how it looks and smells. Once you get used to using convection, you’ll quickly figure out all your favorite recipes, and feel more confident in your timing.
It is holiday season, and we know you’ve got the mailman, school teacher, Mrs. Smith next door (because she always brings something over to you) and co-workers to impress with your prized Santa and reindeer shaped cookies (don’t forget your service technicians). Convection baking is all about air being able to circulate inside the oven. So if you’re baking cookies for the whole neighborhood and then some, you can have multiple sheets cooking with the convection setting, one sheet per rack. If you only plan on baking one sheet of cookies, using the traditional oven setting with the sheet on the middle rack will work perfectly.
We hope these tips have helped inspire you to preheat that oven (15 minutes before you’re ready to bake) and jump right into your favorite cookie recipe and give convection baking a try. Be patient and just keep at it, and you’ll be a big fan in no time! Excess cookies may be delivered to 5073 Martin Luther King Freeway in Fort Worth. Happy Holidays from our Family to Yours!
BASIC (But Delicious) Sugar Cookie Recipe
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 30 min. + chilling Bake: 10 min./batch + cooling
MAKES: 84 servings
1 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 egg
- 1-1/2 teaspoons almond extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons butter, softened
- 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 to 4 tablespoons 2% milk
- Food coloring of your choice, optional
- Colored sugar, edible glitter, nonpareils or frosting of your choice, optional
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1 each: 64 calories, 3g fat (2g saturated fat), 11mg cholesterol, 59mg sodium, 9g carbohydrate (5g sugars, 0 fiber), 1g protein.
- In a large bowl, cream butter and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and extracts. Combine flour and salt; add to creamed mixture and mix well. Chill 1-2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 375°. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/8-in. thickness. Cut with floured 2-1/2-in. cookie cutters. Place on greased baking sheets. Bake 7-9 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.
- For frosting, in a small bowl, combine butter, sugar, vanilla and enough milk to achieve a spreading consistency. If desired, tint with food coloring. Frost cookies; decorate as desired. Yield: 6-7 dozen.