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Did my convection oven kill my custards?

I've made thousands of custards, flans, and les cremes brulees over the decades, and since I got a new convection oven, they've been burnt on the sides, separating and not setting in the centers. Today, after watching them jiggle for over 90 minutes, I turned off the convection fan, and then they set up immediately, just like the old days. Do any of you have problems using convection ovens for custards? Just curious.

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  1. I have a convection and always set it 40-50 degrees F lower than it says in any regular-oven recipe. Everything has always turned out fine. Just a hunch, but did you adjust the temp?

    1 Reply
    1. re: kpzoo

      My GE manual said to use the same old temp, and the convection oven automatically readjusts the temp for me. Hmmm...maybe I should just double think it, then? Next time, I'll try two batches each way: one at 50 degrees lower, with fan; one w/o fan at regular temp. Gotta get to the bottom of this!

    2. I had problems with custards too in a convection oven. The air kept the surface of the moving just enough to not set properly. I usually turn the fan off.

      1. Convection is not good for custards. Turn the fan off if possible, or cover the baking dish with foil for protection, but poke a few tiny holes so steam doesn't build up too much and drip down onto your custards. The general rule that I've learned is that convection cooks 25 degrees hotter (farenheit) than a still oven.

        1. My convection oven has different settings, and some that use the fan and or not. I don't adjust the heat I use the same temperature, but I do check on the time since mine cooks about 20 minutes faster. Knowing that you are experienced with custards I still gotta ask. Did you place the custard dishes in a water bath? That will keep the custard from burning on the sides. (I'm sure you know this.)

          90 minutes is way to long, in either of my ovens. The custard or brulle will jiggle, and the way I test is to touch the center with my finger, you can tell how it bounces back.
          Or it will have a slight film meaning it needs a little more time.

          1. I'm a pastry chef, so when I make creme brulee I make around 80 at a time. The only oven I use is a convection oven, and they turn out fine. The only drawback is that the tops can show a little bit of motion from the fans, but when you torch sugar on top you can't tell at all. Depending on the oven, you should be cooking them at around 280°F for around 30-35 mins, keep in mind I use a shallow brulee dish and it will be longer if you are using those chef's hat ramekins that a a little deeper. Also, because it is a convection and can run a little drier, you have to use a lot of water for your bain marie, a lot.

            1. I never use the convection option when making things like custards. I believe they bake best in a still oven with bottom heat only. Convection is fantastic if you want a browned top on baked items or crisp skin on roast chicken. But not for something as delicate as a custard. Sometimes I'll even let something bake partway with still heat, then turn the convection on for a few minutes at the end to brown the surface.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Nyleve

                Since I am still getting used to my convection oven, I have a question. Should you use convection when baking popovers or yorkshire pudding?

                1. re: BJE

                  I'm going to say no. Convection would cause the tops to bake quickly and possibly retard the "puff" you want. What I would do instead would be to use the regular bake setting for most of the baking time - until the popovers were sufficiently popped - then turn on the convection for the last 5-10 minutes to brown and crisp. Just my two cents worth.

              2. If your oven offers a choice between standard thermal and convection (and I thought all convection ovens do, but after reading the posts here I'm beginning to wonder) then any time you're baking anything that requires a moist environment through the use of a ban marie (water bath) you should use the standard thermal setting. The fans (and exhaust in some models) in convection mode will remove the moisture and defeat the bain marie.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Caroline1

                  Caroline - that's it! Bingo! No wonder my custards don't set, and all of the water is gone. Thanks, all!