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Convection oven tips, please

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After a sort of lengthy kitchen renovation, I will be cooking (fingers crossed) with my new GE Profile convection oven some time towards the end of next week. I have searched this board for what has been discussed about convection ovens, but I want to ask:

What is the one thing you can tell this first-time convection oven user that will make learning to use a convection oven an easy task and make me love it?

No naysayers please. I realize there are downsides to a convection oven (and just about everything else in life), but the oven is in place and there is no turning back now. I just want to hear from those who enjoy their convection oven and have a useful tip to pass along.

Thanks!

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  1. My convection oven is rather new so I'm looking forward to following this thread. I have found that more than one pan of cookies on different shelves really does work. Also it seems to me that my biscuits are fluffier baked on convection.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Plano Rose

      I'm looking forward to answers from people who have been using their convection oven for a while. We got ours just a few days ago, and so far, I've only used the rotisserie function.

    2. I have found that baking home-made pizza right in front of the fan gives a terrific crunchy crust. I have the same model; I really just use the setting and it adjusts the temperature appropriately. I don't really fuss with it at all. Usual caveats of checking things early to make sure you don't overcook, but that's true with any oven.

      1. I've had convection ovens for many years, and love them, especially for roasts (meat, veggie chips, etc.) Just be careful with timing - some things cook very quickly (especially kale chips). The only things I don't use the convection feature for are custards (creme brulee, flan, etc.) - for some reason, they cook more evenly and quickly w/o the convection. This sounds counter-intuitive, but I've tested this twice and got the same results. Have fun!

        1. Thanks to the few who answered; seems like no one else wants to play.

          Now I have a specific question: is it worth using the convection mode for a braised dish? Something that will sit in a covered casserole for 2 or so hours? I can see the advantage of a convection oven for baking cookies and other things that the hot air can circulate around, but I wonder about a covered casserole. Thanks.

          3 Replies
          1. re: ttoommyy

            In answer to your specific question - no it's not worth it for a braised dish. In braising, you're looking for even, gentle heat that comes from bottom (mostly). Convection will blow the air around the dish, but this really isn't necessary because the food itself doesn't actually get touched by this air movement. So no - don't bother.

            Actually I find that convection doesn't get used as much as I thought it would. It's GREAT for roast meats, especially poultry, where you want a browned, crisped exterior. I use it sometimes for the last ten minutes or so when I bake bread or some kinds of pastries (like choux) where a nicely browned crust is important. But most of my baking is better off with regular, non-convection heat - steady, even, bottom heat. A big loaf of bread is nice to bake 3/4 through on regular heat and then turn on convection for the last 1/4. The same strategy might also work for some kinds of cookies, although they bake so quickly that usually I don't bother with convection at all (unless they're not as brown on top as I'd like). And in answer to Piano Rose (below) it depends on the size of the turkey. Convection all the way if it's smallish, but if it's a behemoth that will have to roast for 5 hours anyway, don't use convection because it'll get too dark before the inside is fully done.

            Like any other kitchen toy, it takes some experimentation to see how it works. AND not all convection ovens are equal - so you'll just have to figure out what you like.

            1. re: Nyleve

              Thank you Nyleve. Very kind of you to give a thorough answer. I appreciate it.

            2. re: ttoommyy

              probably cheaper than the big oven. save money, buy tasties instead!

            3. I have another specific question. Should I use the convection feature for the turkey? I have true convection if that makes any difference.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Plano Rose

                PlanoRose: "Should I use the convection feature for the turkey?"

                You will not like this answer: it depends.

                Convection ovens either reduce cooking times or allow you to set the oven 25 degrees lower for the same cooking times. There are certain dishes for which you NEVER should use convection: soufflés, Dutch babies. There are others where you should think twice: where there is danger that the food will dry out.

                Do you roast your turkey in a covered pan? Fine, use convection. Do you get your turkey extra moist through brining before cooking under a loose aluminum foil "tent" (as we do)? Fine, use convection. Do you roast your turkey ""in the open" and exposed without moisturizing it through brining or putting an aluminum foil tent over the top? Then, do not use convection.

                1. re: Plano Rose

                  I roasted a turkey open with convection and it was the best turkey I ever made-very juicy. I think the main drying part goes to the skin which makes it crispy and the fat under the skin provides a moisture barrier to prevent the drying of the flesh unless the internal temp is too high and it overcooks. I cook my turkey stuffed and upside down for the first 1.5 hours and with a probe. I also have the Electrolux oven and it has a "perfect turkey" button.
                  I think cooking with convection can lead to some very personal preferences. I have read that cakes and muffins baked in a convection oven do not come out as well due to the fact that the batter becomes dry on the outside and inhibits the rise and the the heat comes from all directions instead of the bottom and this causes the rise to be uneven. Others on this forum say they have gotten great results with convection. I think that many factors can come into play. Gas or electric oven, fan or third element, how deep or how thick or the color of your pans, and I'm sure quite a few more factors I haven't thought of.
                  I think some things might have a consensus but there are quite a few things you just have to try for yourself. I think that the ovens with the third element used in a pure convection mode are not as even as used in a convection bake mode. I think they blow heated air and make a hot spot in front of the fan. If you use the convection bake/roast mode, the third element does not really even come on that much. I have two different brands with European convection. I just think it is oversold and not that necessary.

                  1. re: Plano Rose

                    use roast setting? both microwave and oven at once?

                  2. Have you tried the GE Profile yet? What do you think? If I had read this thread before, I would have said yes to convection but no the the GE Profile. Even just the preheat function is frustrating so I've barely used it in the few years I've owned it.

                    16 Replies
                    1. re: chowser

                      why is the preheat function frustrating? I have a GE Profile convection oven, and it seems to work fine. Preheat shows the current temp and beeps when it's there.

                      1. re: DGresh

                        I'm curious too. I haven't gotten to use the oven yet; probably won't until Tuesday or so at this point.

                        1. re: DGresh

                          I shoiuld have been more detailed. First, the preheat takes much longer than my GE Profile oven. If you interrupt it in the middle, it starts all over from the beginning. It seems to go by time and not by temperature. If I interrupt the cooking, it starts over from the preheat cycle. I should have also said I have the microwave combination, not the regular oven/convection--I think that's the big flaw.

                          But, don't get me started on the problems w/ GE Profile stand alone stove or the dishwasher.

                          1. re: chowser

                            I've used the dishwasher a couple times now, no problem. What have you found to be wrong?

                            1. re: ttoommyy

                              It doesn't clean. We have to rinse and wipe before putting in the dishes or they come out dirty. I was talking to a friend who has the same problem and we commiserate. But, we both bought ours a few years ago and maybe they've improved them? And, mine is really noisy.

                              1. re: chowser

                                GE doesn't have the corner on bad dishwashers. I'm on my third in 19 yrs (Whirlpool, Kitchenaid, GE) - and they're all lousy.

                                1. re: Claudette

                                  I need to do more research before I buy another. My sister loves her Bosch.

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    SO do I! So quiet. Got a Great deal on one at a Used appliance place. Looked Brand new. Works like a champ!

                                    1. re: chowser

                                      We bought a Bosch and it is a good machine. We bought middle of the line. It costs more to use those pellets though. It is wonderfully quiet.

                                  2. re: chowser

                                    Here's a tip we learned from an install guy when my parents upgraded their dishwasher: He said that because the new dishwashers are "energy efficient" they don't heat up the water as high as they did years ago. In fact, they only increase the water from the tap by 20 degrees. So he instructed them to run the sink tap until the water was hot - allowing the cold water in the pipes to empty - before starting the dishwasher. They saw an immediate difference. My feeling is that "energy efficiency" may not be all that great in the areas of dishwashers. To save energy and get good results you have to waste water. :(

                                    1. re: kmrickert

                                      "So he instructed them to run the sink tap until the water was hot - allowing the cold water in the pipes to empty - before starting the dishwasher."

                                      This is stated in the booklet that came with our dishwasher.

                                      I always run the dishwasher after having washed by hand the pots, pans and other things that don't go in the dishwasher so for me there is no waste of water.

                                      1. re: kmrickert

                                        That's good to know, though since that post, my dishwasher (thankfully?) died and we replaced it w/a a Bosch. It's so quiet and efficient, especially in comparison. I don't know if it'll matter for us since we keep our water temperature on the low side, though.

                                  3. re: chowser

                                    Hm...my GE profile stove/oven works just fine.

                                    1. re: Claudette

                                      The problem with the stand alone I have is that it was obviously not designed by someone who cooks. My controls are on the back of the stove, and the lip hangs over part of the back burners which renders them useless unless you have a flat frying pan that can fit under the lip. Nothing taller will fit. If you look at the back of this picture, you can see the overhang and how it hangs over part of the burner:

                                      http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12...

                                      Anyone who cooks will put their big pans in the back, pasta, stews, etc. and actively cook on the front burners. But, I can essentially only use the front two burners because I can't pan fry on the back burner behind my pot of stew. It's very poorly designed. There is the same problem w/ the warming burner and the overhang. Unless what I'm warming is in a container that's shorter than 2", I can't use it.

                                      If you have the model where the control panel is in the front, on one of the slide in ranges, this wouldn't be a problem. So, my oven/stove works fine, it's just not functional.

                                      1. re: chowser

                                        You're right about that lip - I hate it, but for the price, the stove's got great features. My big burner for pasta, crab pot, etc. is in the front right, so the lip is not an issue there. Behind it is the really small burner for warming, etc. As soon as I win the lottery, I'm buying a new house, new kitchen, and big 36" cooktop!

                                        1. re: chowser

                                          Does anyone have the "bridge" burner? In which you are supposed to be able to use two burners that connect across so you can use a griddle, etc. My model has this feature but the very detailed instruction book really doesn't address it. Thanks.

                                2. I think it does a great job of baking things evenly. Just remember to always set temp 25 degrees lower for baking. For other cooking, I set the temp the same as I would in a regular oven, and I find it generally makes cooking time 20-30% shorter.

                                  1. I just want to say that I've used my new GE Profile Convection oven quite a few times now and I am in love! I've made numerous batches of various Christmas cookies in the last week and they all turned out perfectly. No rotating of multiple pans necessary! That is one of the best parts.

                                    Also, my GE Profile dishwasher, microwave and French door refrigerator are all wonderful as well. I am so happy with my new kitchen!

                                    Thanks to all who responded.

                                    1. My convection oven is about 10 years old. It does not automatically reset temps; I often bake or roast using regular times, but have learned to check well into the baking or roasting process to make sure I am not going to overbrown or overcook somethinng.

                                      The best thing you can do is read the manual, and then use the oven!

                                      Master any special tricks it has (mine has a nifty convection broil that has me place meat in the middle of the oven on a special rack and it makes really good pork chops!) but just use it.

                                      I know someone who has a convection oven who is scared of it. Sheesh, it's just an oven, not a nuclear reactor. And yes I do like mine really well.

                                      1. pizza! it's what they're made for. no pizza stone, jus tdo it on grill, top and bottom (aka heat the turny sheet)

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Chowrin

                                          "just do it on grill, top and bottom (aka heat the turny sheet)"

                                          Yes, I want to make pizza soon. Thanks, Not sure what you mean by "grill" or "turny sheet" though Chowrin. Please explain. Thanks!

                                        2. Recently learned from the Wolf representative traveling chef, that if you adjust the temperature 25 degrees less than the recipe calls for -- that is usually an accurate measure for cooking it for the same period of time called for in a recipe. You can always set the timer to go off two or three minutes ahead of time to check on whatever it is that you are cooking.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: devilishlyblue

                                            It is just a very loose guideline though. It is trial and error depending on your brand of oven and what you are cooking.

                                          2. I used the convection roast feature of my new GE Café oven for the first time last night and was flabbergasted at (1) how quickly the oven preheated, and (2) how quickly the chicken cooked. My spatchcocked chicken, which the recipe said would take about 50 minutes, took less than 35. Love the range, but I'm thinking I've got a rather steep learning curve ahead of me. Good thing I have plenty of time to play with it, because the idea of experimenting with the Thanksgiving bird does not appeal. And thanks, Nyleve, for the turkey tip. Also the idea of just turning it on to brown at the end. Makes sense.