What's Up With My Oven?
I moved to southern California in July. Until recently, I've been using my toaster oven to bake stuff (it's been too hot to turn on the oven.) For the past three weeks, however, I've been using my oven, and it's baking things waaay faster than it should be. I have an oven thermometer and it seems to be working correctly. Luckily I've been using my nose to let me know when something is done, because I don't trust the usual time limits.
I was wondering if it was an altitude thing. I really don't think it is, as I live 30 miles east of Los Angeles in a valley. I also was wondering if it was my gas stove... I had an electric one in the past, so maybe there's a difference there? I'm just at a loss... I don't mind guessing when my food is done, but it's been a little challenging when I'm trying out a new recipe.
Any ideas? Thanks in advance!
So I'm the kind of freak who puts a gas range at the top of her needs list when hunting for apartments. Gas ovens are not categorically different from electric. I've used both professionally and don't have to adjust my recipes when I go to a new job with a new oven.
If your new oven seems consistently faster than your old oven, that seems like it should be pretty easy to get used to - either turn it down a few degrees or just get used to setting the timer for a little bit earlier. Is the new one a convection oven by chance? A convection fan makes any oven bake about 25F hotter than a still oven, and will bake things faster.
You need to be over about 3000 feet before altitude starts affecting your baking. Cakes may collapse or be too dry and too sweet if the recipe is not adjusted and custards seem to take forever. Otherwise, I haven't noticed things baking particularly faster at altitude, so I don't think that's it.
re: babette feasts
When BF bought a new oven, we found that things were taking too long to cook. And this was a new range! And gas too. We bought an oven thermometer and sure enough it was running about 8 degrees cold. It has been a while now, so I rarely use the thermometer anymore, but I do generally put the temp at 5 degrees higher than the recipe suggests and just keep an eye on it. I don't bake much so it is not a significant issue, but even so, calibrate your oven to a thermometer and soon enough you will just find cooking in it instinctive.
I can't offer any particular advice, but I used to have a gas oven (like, 4 apartments ago), and the thing heated both unevenly and inconsistently. I could bake two cakes in a row and one would burn while the next would come out uncooked.
In short: it could be the gas oven, no matter what the thermometer says.
If you have a spring thermometer in your oven it is suspect. I'd calibrate your oven with a digital thermometer. Put the probe in the oven, heat to a preset temp and let cycle once. Check the temp when the oven goes off and when it comes back on. They should just be on either side of the preset temp (within about 5 degrees).
I found that my oven runs about 8 degrees COLD and had to adjust the temperature offset to compensate.