Which Oven Bakes Better - Convection or Conventional?
A reader asked what is best for baking, a gas convection oven or an electric oven so I asked Chef Leslie Bilderback, a certified master baker what she thought. As you will see from her answer, it's not about gas or electric, but more about convection or non-convection. I have a 6-burner gas stovetop but the attached oven is electric, where Chef Bilderback has a gas stove top and oven.
So here is Judy's Ask A Chef Question and Chef Bilderback's answer. By the way, you really want to read my Novice to Pro Interview with Chef Leslie, and if you are thinking of going to culinary school, you definitely want to read her book,
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Success as a Chef
Would you please inform me if a gas convection oven is better to bake cakes, cookies, etc than an electric oven. I am ready to purchase a gas convection oven to bake with. Thanks
Chef Leslie Bilderback reply's,
In my opinion, convection ovens are only useful if the fan can be disabled. The fan makes it hotter, which is useful when you want to cook something faster. This works for cookies, biscuits, muffins, puff pastry, and other laminates, and small stuff. Larger items will brown on the outside, and look done, before they are done on the inside. This is terrible for large loaves of bread, pound cakes, white meringues, or anything that's delicate, like custards.
Gas or electric is not an issue for me in terms of ovens, but I must have a gas stove, and the oven is attached, so that's what I have.
If you can disable the fan, then go for it. Otherwise, stick with a conventional oven.
FYI, convection ovens were developed for restaurants to speed things along. The fan was supposed to circulate air so that things brown evenly. Unfortunately, it didn't work. Things still brown unevenly with the fan. It is always necessary to rotate pans throughout baking.
One more note...Don't be in such a hurry... stop and smell the rosemary! Some of my most enjoyable kitchen experiences happen while waiting for things to be done!
I have a Samsung electric flat top stove with convection oven. I grew up cooking with gas and I miss it. A gas stove is the only way to cook, but I have learned to make do with what I have.
On the subject of convection, you lump all convection into one basket. Just as not all pots, or chef tools are the same, not all convection ovens are designed or work the same. When I hopped for convection, I found that Samsung was the only one to use three fans in their oven. So while I agree on the comments about large items that will brown before being fully cooked, I disagree about t how much rotating is required in a convection oven. In most cases, none, in rare cases I might turn something only if its shape is odd and air circulation is hampered. My convection oven has more than one setting for convection cooking, and I may also turn convection off if I feel that I don't want or need it. I feel I have the best of both worlds. I would love a gas range on top of my convection oven.
Cynthia A Thaning
Convection ovens are great for cooking roasts and such but the topic is baking in one. It makes a huge difference. I bake a lot of cakes and I will not use convection for baking. You have to adjust the temp down if you do and then even though the cake rises evenly and looks good the crust will be sticky and tough. Sometimes difficult to turn out of the pan even after shortening and flour and a liner! Not good.
G. Stephen Jones
Thanks Cynthia for you convection oven tips for Joseph.
I am trying to learn to bake/cook in a gas oven. The pizzas sink in the middle and take ages to cook, the stews are chewie and the baking burns on the bottom. HELP. I used to use a convection oven and had good results. Any tips would be wonderful.
The Reluctant Gourmet
Hi Margie, great question for an article I’ll have to write. I have an electric oven that also has the convection feature, but I don’t use it that much and I’m not sure why. With a convection oven the hot air circulates around your food move evenly therefore the food cooks faster than without. This helps especially when you are baking a pie crust or cookies but really shouldn’t make too much of a difference when you cooking a stew in a Dutch Oven.
Most ovens typically have hot spots where it gets hotter in once part of the oven than another, one of the reasons I rotate roasts. A convection oven moves the heat around so it isn’t as critical to be careful of hot spots. The hot circulating air allows you to cook at lower temperatures, as much as 25 degrees less and in less time. So I’m wondering if you just need to raise the temperatures to your favorite recipes and cook them a little longer for your previous results. I think with a little experimentation and practice, you will be back making delicious pizzas once more. Let me know if this works for you.
hi sir or madam. i just recently bought a gas oven where i intend to start baking but i have a major problem: you see, i have never baked using a gas oven before and the more i read about the comments people blog in the more i panic. i don't know the first thing about regulating the heat and temperature and the like. don't some recipes require that before you bake you have to pre-heat to a certain degree before you start baking? I NEED HELP!! I WANT TO BAKE MY MOM A CHRISTMAS CAKE AT THE END OF THE YEAR AND WOULD APPRECIATE ANY HELP I CAN GET WHEN IT COMES TO WORKING THAT OVEN. PLEASE EMAIL ME ANY INFORMATION ON THE SAME, I WOULD REALLY APPRECIATE. THANKS A LOT!!!
The Reluctant Gourmet
Deep breaths. Deeeeeeep breaths.
Congratulations on the purchase of your brand new oven. First, don’t panic. There’s no need. Gas ovens work about the same way as electric ovens do. They have a thermostat that controls temperature, and the gas cycles on and off to maintain a reasonably even heat. Keep in mind that all ovens keep an average temperature. The actual temperature at any given minute might fluctuate by as much as 25 degrees F either above or below the target temperature. That means that, when your oven is set at 350 degrees F, the actual temperature will be somewhere between 325 degrees F and 375 degrees F. But, over time, the average temperature will be pretty close to 350F.
Unless you have purchased some rare antique gas oven that doesn’t come with knobs or a readout of any kind, you’ll be just fine. You go right ahead and bake that cake for your mom! I would suggest that you bake a couple of items first, just to get to know your oven: where its hot spots are, how true to temperature over time it is, how quickly it preheats, etc. That way, you’ll be comfortable with the way it functions when it comes time to bake the Christmas cake.
As to preheating, again your oven should run through a preheating cycle. Set your oven to your desired temperature, and most likely your oven will beep or in some way let you know that it is preheated. To be safe and to make sure that the oven itself, not just the air inside of it, is preheated, I generally allow another five to ten minutes of preheating after the preheat indicator goes off. That way, when you open your oven to put in your cake, the temperature won’t plummet too drastically, and your oven will come back to temperature more quickly.
Good luck with it–I’m sure it will turn out beautifully.
Hello Reluctant Gourmet,
I really find your comments so insightful. Thank you. And I hope you can help me also. I just recently bought a freestanding gas range with oven. I initially wanted to buy a table top oven but since its a gift to me the one who bought it thought it will be cost efficient to but the freestanding with oven compared to just the tabletop at the same price.
However i noticed that the max temp in the thermostat is only at 250. Not indicating if F or C. And most of the recipes i want to try says preheat oven at 350. I don't know what to do now. Any advice on this. I'm also a newbie in baking.
Thank you in advance
The Reluctant Gourmet
Hi Marie, what is the brand and model of the gas range and oven?
250 is the standard max on a celcius oven. 180 degrees is the equivalent to 350 Fahrenheit. Since the oven is new check it with a thermometer.
There must be a way to make an existing gas oven convection. There must be an aftermarket fan made for this purpose. I'm sure that with correct positioning and the right size and fan speed, this would work.
Hey Chris, interesting idea but not sure where you would put it or how you would power it. - RG
Hi!! Thank you so much for this article! I am planning on opening up a small bakery concentrating mostly on cupcakes and cookies and was a little stressed about having to get a convection oven. I have baked with one before and it was a nightmare of an experience, and exactly as you describe above. Do you have any experience with the double convention ovens? I was hoping that might be an option in the bakery, and wanted to know if you had any experience with that? Thanks in advance for your help!!
Hi Sarah, thanks for the post. I do not have any experience with double convention ovens, but I'm sure there is a lot of information available on the Internet by the manufacturers and people who have tried them. - RG
There is an aftermarket oven fan - search for Nordic Ware Oven Aire. Wind it up and it runs for 30 mins or more...
Thanks for mentioning this Maryanne - RG
I'm using a la germania. but still i doubt its temp. i always put inside my oven thermometer when i doubt the heating of my oven when i set to its desired temperature on a the knob.
Great idea Thads. For those not familiar with La Germania ovens, it is an Italian brand started back in 1909. - RG
how to preheat the OVEN
Hi! I am currently using La Germania convention oven for baking. Although, it's already 11 yrs old & shows that it is time to retire. 'cause my baking results are not consistent anymore. I am thinking of shifting to gas convection oven. Do you think it is more practical to use gas convection oven or electric convection? Will gas have the same results with electric in terms of baking? I hope you can assist me on this. Thanks!
Hi Irma, I'm not sure but let me do a little investigating and see what I can find out. - RG
i just bought a zanussi zot 103kx oven intending for baking cake. But my "used to succeed" recipie turn out to be diaster. Can any one tell he why?
Lily, without knowing the exact nature of your disaster, it's hard to really say. I will say that every oven works and heats differently, and it might take a few test runs to perfect your old recipes in your shiny new oven. Good luck:)
It is recommended to rotate cakes when baking in the oven, but how do you avoid the temperature in the oven falling (when the door is open for the rotation of pans) & negatively affecting the cakes?
@Shirley Unfortunately, you can't avoid the temp falling. The good news is that nobody can avoid that. It's just physics. Keep the oven open for the shortest amount of time possible. The element may have to click back on to get back up to temp, but that's what it does periodically anyway. Most ovens cycle between a few degrees below to a few degrees above the set temp for an average overall temp. So if you set the oven for 350, it'll cycle up and down between maybe 335 and 365 as the oven works to keep an average temp of 350. Opening the oven quickly just once won't add an appreciable amount of time to the overall baking time.
For cakes and other loose batters (as opposed to stiffer bread and cookie dough), try not to rotate the pans until the cake is not too wiggly. So, if the total baking time is somewhere around 35 minutes, I wouldn't try to rotate until maybe 20-25 min.
I read somewhere that leaving a large pizza stone in your oven helped prevent the temp of the oven from changing during baking. Not baking on the stone but leaving in the bottom of the oven to help maintain a constant temperature. Does this work?
hi...I'm planning to buy an oven and I have no, as in NO experience in baking/cooking using an oven. Is there such an oven for beginners? Or do you have any tips on do's and dont's on buying and I'd very much appreciate it if you will give a specific oven to buy. Thanks and Happy Holidays. 🙂
Hi , I would like to have some advise , I have got a Elecctrolux conventional oven , but I wonder which function type n temperature should I adjust if baking butter cookies? I tried the so call ''true fan cooking label circle with fan in it''function knob , turns out too dry even for 150celcius n baking time 15 mins .pls advise thank you
The Reluctant Gourmet
Hi Audrey, I cannot advise you on your oven but I will post your question and look forward to someone with more knowledge about this oven to post an answer for you.
I'm looking at a Fulgor Milano and have the option for dual fuel or all gass, both are convection. I bake cookies, muffins, cakes mostly and don't know which type to buy any help would be great