The oven is a key tool when it come to successful baking. The oven came make, or break, your great baked goods. So, why it is important to "know your oven" and adjust when needed? Read more to find out why!
First off, describe your oven: Is it 20 years old? Or 2 years new? Are you stuck in a small studio apartment with a beat up and abused oven? Or in a six-figure condo with brand new stainless steel appliances? Older oven tend to be "weaker" and not was "hot" as current or new ovens. I tend to set older ovens 20-40 degrees F MORE than what a recipe may call for. When I am working with new and shiny ovens, I set the temperature 20-40 degrees LESS than what a recipe calls for.
Conduction versus convection ovens: Convection ovens (also called "turbo ovens") has a rotating fan in it, so the hot air moves freely, thus making the food cook more evenly and at a lower temp. Convection ovens also may include proofing abilities for bread making. Many bakers love convection ovens because the heat is more even versus a conduction oven. They tend to be easier to clean, too!
Conduction ovens (also called "conventional ovens") are most popular in domestic homes. The heat depends on the radiation of the walls and tends to be uneven. That is why it is important to "rotate" food in conduction ovens. Many newer conduction ovens come with self-cleaning, which is plus versus older models.
What are you cooking in that oven?! Do not overcrowd your oven with many food dishes! One or two items in your oven is enough (unless you're in a professional kitchen and have many racks in your oven)! Too many items in your oven will cause not enough even heat to cook your items properly.
When cooking large items (like Thanksgiving Turkey, pot roast, Prime rib, etc): Think slow and low. A large piece of meat will need a long time in the oven without burning it. 300-325 degrees F is hot enough.
When cooking small items (like chocolate chip cookies, scones, small veggies, etc): think high and fast. Items that not require a long cooking time can be baked at a higher temp, like 350-375 degrees F.
Of course, adjust your ovens accordingly!
This will take time and practice. KNOW YOUR OVEN! Is it naturally too hot...or too cold? Slow to heat up? Take notes and write them in your recipe. Your oven will be different than your neighbor's oven. Once you know your oven, you know baking!