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Bakers' input wanted: Have you ever baked in a True Convection oven?

InRosiesKitchen Apr 10, 2013 11:13 AM

I cook a lot but am also a big-time baker and I am in the process updating the kitchen and have only ever used a standard oven for all my baking (cookies, biscuits, pies, cakes, cupcakes, tarts, etc) and have heard mixed reviews about baking in convection ovens. I am considering a True Convection oven (heating elements on top and bottom plus a third by the fan).

Ideally I would love to be able to bake several pans at a time (ie. 2-3 cookie sheets or 4 x 8" cake pans) all at once and achieve the same results as when I bake in a traditional oven. I guess time efficiency is what I am after.

If you're a baker I'd love to hear about your experience and pros/cons. Thanks!

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  1. BIGGUNDOCTOR RE: InRosiesKitchen Apr 10, 2013 01:11 PM

    I bought a barely used Kenmore Elite 30" double convection oven off Craigslist for $100,and love it. My pies, and breads come out perfect , and no burning.

    I have done 7 - 9" pies in one shot with 3 shelves installed. They all came out fine.

    BTW Frigidaire made the model I have for Kenmore

    4 Replies
    1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR
      InRosiesKitchen RE: BIGGUNDOCTOR Apr 11, 2013 10:33 AM

      Thanks for your post. Seems that finicky baking such as cakes, muffins and the like are subject to great variability with convection. Lucky you on getting such a deal.

      1. re: InRosiesKitchen
        BIGGUNDOCTOR RE: InRosiesKitchen Apr 11, 2013 01:05 PM

        I have not had any problems with breads, cookies,cakes, or muffins. They all come out great.

        BTW if it makes a difference, mine is electric

        1. re: InRosiesKitchen
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          iamreptar RE: InRosiesKitchen Apr 11, 2013 05:23 PM

          If you've ever read Thomas Keller and Sebastian Rouxel's book, Bouchon Bakery, they actually encourage you to use a convection oven in many of the recipes. For many baked goods, they will gain a slightly higher rise and more even color. Madeleines are given their classic bubble through the use of a convection oven. Some cakes actually get a better crumb from its use. Coffee cakes beg for a domed top and convection ovens will encourage this. Macarons benefit from it as standard ovens aren't really optimal for making them (they have a tendency to form specks on the cookie which negatively impact texture). Cookies wont spread as much and will get a more even color as well. I have one as well as a standard oven and there are times when i'll use one over the other. It all depends on what im making actually. Muffins, for example, are best baked in a standard oven. Another nice benefit for convection ovens is that it allows for a shorter baking time.

        2. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR
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          crstaller RE: BIGGUNDOCTOR Dec 18, 2013 07:52 AM

          Hi, do you know what the model number of your oven is? I am looking for a good oven for my pie baking business and your review of yours was very helpful. Thanks

        3. s
          sueatmo RE: InRosiesKitchen Apr 10, 2013 05:30 PM

          I used an early convection oven for about 12 years, and prefer it to a standard oven. I don't know what you mean by a "true convection oven" though.

          For me it gave lovely browned poultry and beautiful cornbread and biscuits. Cookies turned out well too. I seldom set the temps back. But I checked the contents often.

          3 Replies
          1. re: sueatmo
            InRosiesKitchen RE: sueatmo Apr 11, 2013 10:32 AM

            There seem to be different kinds of convection oven - the older technology with just a plain fan to blow the air around and the "True Convection" that also has a heating element by the fan in addition to the elements at the top and bottom. Thanks for your post!

            1. re: InRosiesKitchen
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              sueatmo RE: InRosiesKitchen Apr 11, 2013 12:39 PM

              Well, I'd love to have either kind, frankly.

              1. re: InRosiesKitchen
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                JWVideo RE: InRosiesKitchen Apr 11, 2013 05:03 PM

                Third element isn't really newer or necessarily better. Third element has mostly been a feature on electric ovens. It usually isn't practical to put a third element around a fan in a gas oven. Although, I do believe that Frigidaire now has some gas stoves with an electrical third element around the convection fan.

            2. c oliver RE: InRosiesKitchen Apr 10, 2013 05:33 PM

              After I overcooked a Zuni kitchen while using the convection option, I found this conversion chart. Do others automatically do this?

              http://www.convection-calculator.com/

              6 Replies
              1. re: c oliver
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                kagemusha49 RE: c oliver Apr 10, 2013 09:11 PM

                The Kitchenaid I just installed in our house has automatic conversion

                1. re: kagemusha49
                  InRosiesKitchen RE: kagemusha49 Apr 11, 2013 10:30 AM

                  The calculator is a great tool - THANKS c oliver! And an automatic conversion is now on my "must have list" - seems it would help in the guesswork. Thanks kagemusha49!

                  1. re: InRosiesKitchen
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                    JWVideo RE: InRosiesKitchen Apr 11, 2013 04:58 PM

                    Automatic conversions may or may not be useful but at least most stoves/ovens that have this feature allow you to shut it off when you don't want it.

                    It will take some trial and error to figure out how well it does or does not work for you. You want to be sure you have your oven calibrated correctly or at least measured. My experience is that the automatic conversions vary widely in effective they are.

                    I live at near 6000 feet altitude. I've found with my last two convection ovens, that I often need a slightly hotter oven. If I'm baking bread, I don't get good results if oven is dropping from 350F to 325F. Actually, I get better results with the oven at 375F.

                    These are just examples and, unfortunately, YMMV.

                    1. re: JWVideo
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                      kagemusha49 RE: JWVideo Apr 11, 2013 07:11 PM

                      Your experience living at 6,000ft altitude is about what I'd expect as you are blowing less air mass at that altitude and that would lower the convection heat transfer rate. I imagine that the default for automatic correction is sea level and I haven't checked to see if that can be adjusted.

                      1. re: kagemusha49
                        c oliver RE: kagemusha49 Apr 11, 2013 07:27 PM

                        I live at 6400' so appreciate this heads up.

                      2. re: JWVideo
                        MrsPatmore RE: JWVideo Sep 2, 2013 06:09 PM

                        I live at sea level and I agree "the automatic conversions vary widely in effective they are." I used the feature a little when first got the Miele ovens, but now I just reduce the temp by 15F (not the 25F recommended). And the cooking times are generally the same as stated in a recipe. IMO the greatest benefit is convection roasting of vegetables. They're very addictive. PS This was also my experience with kitchenaid convection ovens. Just reduce temp by 15F, not 25F, and follow the cooking time stated in the recipe.

                2. c
                  Claudette RE: InRosiesKitchen Apr 10, 2013 06:32 PM

                  I've had three convection ovens over the past 30 years, and loved all of them. The only thing that did not turn out well or better was creme brulee - it just would not set, and did not cook evenly nor well (and I've been making creme brulee for many years). Now I just bake custards w/o the convection feature.

                  I also do not remember to adjust the temp down, but with careful watching for browning, it's fine.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Claudette
                    InRosiesKitchen RE: Claudette Apr 11, 2013 10:29 AM

                    Thanks for your post. Good point re: creme brulee. I do makes lots of it! One of my favourite desserts by far.

                  2. j
                    JWVideo RE: InRosiesKitchen Apr 10, 2013 11:10 PM

                    A couple of general observations. First, ovens vary. No exception for "true" convection (a/k/a "third element convection" and "European" convection.) There seems to be a fair amount of variation among ovens and stoves,and brands and models, so generalizations have to be understood against that background.

                    Second, for much of the last decade, I baked in a GE dual-fuel stove with third-element convection. I now have a pro-style all-gas stove with a convection fan but (being gas) no third element. The GE oven did a better job with thin things such as cookies. I could throw in three sheets of sugar cookies or ginger snaps and they would all come out about equally browned without my having to rotate the sheets or shuffle positions. My current pro-style stove only has two oven racks and I had to rotate and shuffle the sheets half-way through when using the convection fan (no third element.)

                    On the other hand, I find the new stove's oven does a better job with bread. I can do four loaves of bread and get a shatteringly thin and crisp crust with the new stove that I never quite achieved in the old third-element oven.

                    I have played around with oven thermometers a time or two. I found that, once fully preheated, the old GE's oven maintained a pretty even temperature throughout the oven cavity when the third element convection and fan were going. There was some fluctuation in the upper corners, but only around 10F to 20F. My current stove's gas oven does about the same just using the plain convection fan.

                    Running the GE oven in "convection roasting" mode (using the broiler element and the third element), it was pretty easy to get good browning of a couple of sheet pans of southern-style biscuits. WIth the current gas oven, convection or no, this is harder to do and involves some shifting of pans.

                    For many things --- pies, roasted meats and poultry -- I'm not noticing any difference in results. I recently tried making layer cakes using four 9" cake pans. Didn't see any noticeable difference between the current batch of cakes and those that I made a year ago when using the old GE running the third element convection.

                    Beyond that, I have not observed any "time efficiency" differences between the third element GE convection and the plain fan convection on my current stove. Convection seems to get longer tasks (roasts, poultry, etc.) done a little quicker than a plain oven, but the current gas oven doesn't seem to take any longer to do those things than they took when I had the GE third-element convection.

                    Now, to be sure, there are variations between stoves and ovens, and others may have different experiences with other versions and brands.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: JWVideo
                      InRosiesKitchen RE: JWVideo Apr 11, 2013 10:27 AM

                      Very helpful indeed. THANK YOU!

                    2. wekick RE: InRosiesKitchen Apr 11, 2013 08:29 AM

                      I have used a standard oven for 45 years for baking and on our last remodel got convection ovens. I hope I never have to do without it again. If you get convection, it is important to understand what it does. You can then decide if it will benefit what you are baking or roasting. I don't use it all the time. I don't use it for anything that needs to rise, at least until the rise is complete. For me this includes cakes, muffins, quick breads and some cookies. It is great though for pies, most cookies and pastries.

                      Convection has these actions.
                      -It is drying-This promotes browning but also dries the surface of what you are baking and can inhibit the rise in things like cakes and muffins. You can read more about starch gelatinization if you want to know the specifics. Bread bakers often have ways of adding steam at the beginning of the baking process to promote starch gelatinization. Once rise is complete, the drying effect is beneficial.
                      -It increases the rate of heat transfer causing things to cook faster - this can cause a cake to cook faster on the outside, which can cause an uneven rise. There are formulas people use to cut back the temp and time but really it is trial and error.
                      -It evens out the temperature in the oven-this brings heat from all directions again changing the way things cook. Heat in a conventional oven come mostly from the bottom causing the cake to cook from the bottom, up allowing a better rise.
                      Some oven fans cause the cake to look "blown".

                      That being said, there are some people that use convection for cakes and report results they are happy with, so you just have to try it and see if you want the benefit of slightly faster baking. Maybe bake the same cake with and without convection.

                      The purpose of the third element is that it is supposed to make a more even bake when the oven is full. Agree with JW that ovens, even third element convection ovens can vary tremendously. This can be due to various modes which are programs on the oven to manipulate direction of heat and air moverment. Some modes allow a lower fan speed for baking. Some ovens have two fans each with a convection element. Residential gas oven typically have just an on and off switch for the fan, no convection element.. The way the oven is built and the radiant heat from the sides and elements is also very important for even baking. Gas and electric ovens each have characteristics that can effect your baking.

                      Some other considerations are that convection ovens often are smaller as the fan takes up space in the back. Some claim the back is flat but, they just bring the whole back wall forward. Look at the usable space. Some ovens are more heavily insulated which helps with evenness of heat but also makes the cavity smaller.
                      Consider that the ovens with various modes are run by computer boards. You want something that is tried and true. You want to make sure it works like it is supposed to and that the boards will not be subject to frying when you run self clean. They also tend to have very narrow temperature swings.

                      If you have a particular brand you are considering, post it so people that have that brand can comment. I personally have a Wolf oven in my range and an Electrolux wall oven. Both are great in convection and standard bake. I recently did a three tiered cake in my Electrolux, standard bake, and it came out very even. I also love the convection for cookies, pies, quiches etc not to mention roasting. My neighbor got convection recently and hates it because "It browns everything". There is a reason you can turn it on and off.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: wekick
                        InRosiesKitchen RE: wekick Apr 11, 2013 10:27 AM

                        wekick... Thanks so much for your post! Most helpful indeed. By far you have provided more information about convection in relation to baking that I have ever seen. Thank you! This mini reno/upgrade is an opportunity to completely look at my baking & cooking needs/wants and to see what fits the budget and space, etc. Thanks for your suggestion on posting a particular brand, once I get down to a few models, I'll post. Thanks again!

                        1. re: wekick
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                          lazy_lurker RE: wekick Sep 2, 2013 01:42 PM

                          What a useful discussion!

                          I am considering buying the 30-inch true convection Whirlpool oven (WOS92EC0A). Is there anyone with experience with this, or who wants to suggest an alternate that they love? I'm restricted to 30 inches wide, and going with a single oven.

                          Great tip about checking the interior dimensions - not always easily found, though.

                          1. re: lazy_lurker
                            wekick RE: lazy_lurker Sep 2, 2013 06:01 PM

                            This would be a little more expensive but I would suggest an Electrolux. It is a lot of bang for the buck. http://www.ajmadison.com/buy/shopping...
                            Electrolux EW30EW55GS Stainless Steel $1699 in the shopping cart. It is widely available so you should be able to get a good price.

                            I would read the use and care manuals to compare.
                            Whirlpool http://www.ajmadison.com/ajmadison/it...
                            Electroluxhttp://www.ajmadison.com/ajmadison/itemdocs/...

                            There is a forum that talks mainly about appliances-http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/appl/.
                            Many on this forum have Elux and have been happy with it. There is quite a bit if feedback on it.

                            Some things I would want to know about the WP is how much heat is kicked out. The Elux doesn't put out near as much as the oven that was in that slot before it was. I also would want to know how the convection conversion works. I cooked with a profile that automatically deducted 25 degrees. You don't have to always decrease the temp and not always by 25 degrees so I don't like that too much.

                            My only issue has been problems with the blue enamel chipping. It was replaced when new and had the liner recently replaced. Both were 4 yrs 10 mos and there have been no complaints on newer ones. I would buy it again but I would get the longest extended warranty you can buy(some have 10 years) There are so many issues with almost all ovens, especially electric. Make sure the warranty company will stand behind the product. The company that I bought my Elux from, also had the warranty. It closed up where I live but was still in business elsewhere. They stood right behind the warranty.

                          2. re: wekick
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                            EvelynDanielle RE: wekick Jul 12, 2014 10:08 AM

                            Thank you so much. This was extremely helpful. We just moved into a new home with a Frigidaire double oven with convection in the upper oven and conventional in the lower oven. I was looking forward to baking after we moved in, but so far two of the cakes I've baked did not come out as expected.
                            The first one was a coffee cake - I used the convert feature in the convection oven, but I still had to add baking time at the end. The cake looked fine, but was too moist on the top.
                            The second one was a berry cake that contains whipped egg whites. I did not use the convert feature this time, just set the usual time and temperature. When I checked the cake it was cooked on the edges but not the top. I had to add 5 minutes to the baking time 3 times! before I would remove it from the oven. Now the bottom and edges are overdone.
                            It seems I need to do some more research before I continue to use the convection oven for my favourite baked goods. Fortunately I have the conventional oven as an option. Unfortunately I have a bad back and breathing problems so I avoid bending. Guess my husband will have to assist. Thanks again!

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