In the Oven
The turkey's done. Decide whether you can fit one or two baking dishes into your oven, and position the racks accordingly. For older ovens, allow extra baking time if the oven contains more than one item. You may also need to rotate the dishes halfway through the bake time for even baking and browning. For newer ovens, the technology allows them a standard baking time, regardless of what's in the oven.
Multiple items may be baked at the same time if they require the same baking temperature. When you're selecting your menu, keep an eye on temperatures and bake times to make coordination easy.
What About Convection Cooking?
Convection ovens force hot air around food and cook it about 25% faster than conventional ovens. You save time and energy with this method, and there's the added bonus that food loses less moisture and retains most of its nutrients. Several companies combine convection and conventional options in the same oven. That's a great choice regardless of the size of your household.
No special equipment is required but it helps to know which pans work best. For best results with convection cooking, keep these tips in mind:
- Use shallow, uncovered casserole dishes (no more than 2 inches deep).
- Use baking pans with sides no higher than an inch or so, such as cookie sheets and jelly-roll pans.
- Deep roasting pans, oven roasting bags, and covered casserole dishes keep the heat from circulating around the food and block the efficiency of convection cooking. Aluminum foil tents will blow off a dish from the force of circulating air. Switch to the conventional cooking method when you're using either of these.
Most manufacturers suggest one of the following options for converting cooking times and temperatures for a convection oven.
- Bake at the same temperature, but for less time.
- Reduce the temperature by 25°, and then bake at the same time the recipe calls for.
- Bake for a little less time, and reduce the oven temperature.
After you bake the first cake or cornbread and roast a chicken and vegetables, you'll know exactly what adjustments work best with your oven. The main thing is to explore and enjoy the options.