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Feb 1, 2014 06:36 PM

Gas oven vs. electric oven -- differences?

I have moved into a house that has a gas oven. I'm very happy about the gas stovetop, which I strongly prefer, but I'm new to having a gas oven.

One thing I've noticed is that if I just warm plates in it they initially get condensation all over them. It's steamy in there. I assume there must be water coming along with the natural gas.

On another thread it was suggested that I make meringues as part of a gluten-free dessert, which seems like a good idea. I wonder how they would do in this steamy oven though. I've never had any trouble making them in an electric oven, but electric ovens are dry.

What are the differences in baking in a gas oven vs an electric oven? What does each do well and what does each do poorly?

Eventually I'd like to replace it.

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  1. The moisture in the oven is a product of the combustion process so any gas oven pretty much will have that. Many bakers like that because the moister atmosphere is good for baking breads and such. As far as meringues, I can't attest to that.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Leepa

      Any idea which is better for roasting meat?

    2. < I assume there must be water coming along with the natural gas. >

      You can say that, but the water is really a product of the combustion reaction:

      CH4(g) + 2 O2(g) → CO2(g) + 2 H2O(g)

      1 Reply
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        Interesting. That also explains why natural gas is clean-burning.

      2. Moisture is generally a good thing in an oven.

        1. My mother baked meringues successfully in our 24" gas oven.

          The steam is only really a factor at low temperature, and even then only when the oven is first turned on. The heat buildup quickly gets ahead of the combustion-product moisture. For anything where that might be a concern, just preheat the oven a bit longer.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ellabee

            This is what I really need to know for next week. Thanks.

          2. Gas ovens do have water as a byproduct of combustion but once they heat up and air flow starts they dry out and it is much more difficult to keep humidity in the oven. Electric ovens are more of a closed system and will hold onto moisture from the food. I know this is contrary to conventional wisdom. If you read baking forums especially about bread baking it is much more difficult to keep humidity in a gas oven.

            4 Replies
            1. re: wekick

              One situation where that makes a big difference is in baking breads where you want steam held in for the crispy crust. Based on what you're saying, seems as if the pan-of-water technique works in electric ovens, but for gas ovens some version of a cloche is needed (a lidded Dutch oven Jim Lahey style, or a disposable aluminum pan set over the bread on a baking stone/steel, or an actual cloche).

              1. re: wekick

                I rarely get to bake anymore, sadly. Which is better for roasting meat?

                1. re: amoule

                  I say gas. that condensate coupled with the option of open flame broil? moist AND crusty once you get the hang of it.

                  1. re: amoule

                    It depends.
                    A gas oven being a dryer cooking environment will produce a crispness and promote browning. An electric oven if it has convection can do the same thing. Some electric ovens have a roasting mode that turns the upper element on occasionally for browning. If what you are baking or roasting in an electric oven you can do this yourself at the end of the cooking time.
                    As far as moistness, either oven will produce a moist roast, because the key is the internal temperature at the end. External moisture will not change this. Use an accurate thermometer that reads continuously. Once meat reaches 140F water is being released from the protein. This is an excellent site for all kinds of info about meat. It is geared towards BBQ but the meat science applies to the kitchen too.