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gas oven not cooking evenly

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I have an old Hardwick gas oven. i can't seem to bake anything evenly despite having had the temperature tested by the gas company and told that it was accurate. i have tried using a cookie sheet under my baking pan and reducing the heat, however i still get an overly cooked outside and undercooked inside. there's no way in hell my landlord is going to replace the oven unless there's a safety issue or the thing is flat out broken.
any tips for baking with an old gas oven to get evenly cooked food?

thanks!

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  1. Get a large baking or pizza stone, put it on the lowest rack and leave it there -- preheat the oven about 20-30 minutes before baking something.

    1. The vast majority of ovens have thermometers that are way off. If the outside is overcooked and the inside is undercooked, your oven is running hot. Put a thermometer in your oven and leave it there. It's more important than the baking stone.

      2 Replies
      1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

        Actually, don't just leave it there - move it around each time you use the oven. Some ovens, and especially gas ovens, heat wildly unevenly.

        You may be able to identify hot and cool areas. If you do, a baking stone MAY help even out the heat - but you will waste a lot of time and gas preheating it. You may also be able to identify where in the oven you should place the food for best results.

        1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

          The first thing I do when using a new oven is to check the temperature and make a little chart. To get 325, set the oven at 335, etc. NONE of them are accurate. Gas and electric ovens do not keep the temperature even, they will drop and spike as the thermostat operates, just like your air conditioner. Pizza stone or bricks will definitely help. A pan of water will work too, depending on what you're cooking and the desired humidity. I paid $18 for my pizza stone at a restaurant supply place, but bricks from Home Depot will work just as well.

        2. Sorry if this sounds dumb - get a meat thermometer. Eventually you will learn what the right (for you) internal temperature. In terms of overcooked outsides - that is most commonly caused by cooking stuff straight out of the fridge rather than allowing it to rise to near room temperature.

          It should be illegal to sell a gas oven without a convection fan - but alas most don't have one. And the pizza stone does make a difference, even if you don't preheat. The other thing that helps is a tray of water on the bottom rack.

          1. don't get a pizza stone - waste of $$.. go get a bunch of bricks or pavers, double wrap them in foil, and stick them on the bottom and sides of the oven.

            But an oven thermometer is a good step as well.. I picked up a digital Maverick one, where the probe would clip to a rack and the display could reside out on the counter and used it to check the steady-state temp of the oven.

            What are you cooking btw? Even with a decent oven, cake strips, for example, help to even the cooking..

            2 Replies
            1. re: grant.cook

              However the pizza stone serves the double purpose of also acting as a pizza stone.

              Watch out using a meat thermometer as an oven thermometer - any temperature above 250-300 is likely to blow it. (Grant specified an oven thermometer, I was calling for a meat thermometer)

              The advantage of using 'pavers' is that they are a heat sink and tend to keep the oven at a more uniform temperature.

              1. re: grant.cook

                thanks for all the great advice, guys!
                i'm trying to bake cakes, btw....

              2. I agree with others that you should get a thermometer. I'm not sure the gas company is really in the business of verifying the temperature of your stove; deciding whether it's safe or not is really more their thing.

                1. Actually, you really need both types of thermometer: an oven thermometer to check for accuracy and identify hot and cool spots, and a meat thermometer to judge doneness.