Ambient Oven Temperature -

489
10
Joined Mar 3, 2002
How can one moniter the ongoing temperature in an oven without opening the door, which automatically lowers the temperature?!!

First, let me say a mercury thermometer lives in my GE gas stove/oven. I usually compensate for the anticipated temperature drop when I put the cake in the oven by preheating to a higher temperature. But then I feel a need to check and make sure that the oven is maintaining temperature, especially towards the end when I may have to open the oven door a couple times to test the doneness of the cake. I do sometimes kick up the temperature a bit when doing that, but worry about when to take it back down to the official temperature. I can't read the thermometer through the glass door - even when I'm able to position so that it might be possible.

I've seen reference to thermometers where a probe is in the oven, the readout on the counter (Polder), but I believe they all are designed for the probe being in the food itself, not just "hanging" in the oven to read the ambient temperature. If there is such a creature, I'd like to get one to help control the oven temperature better when baking.
 
5,192
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Joined Jul 28, 2001
Alexia,
I've been asked this a few times while doing demo's. There are oven thermometers you can buy and install that will have an outside reading. but basically if your oven is calibrated and working properly the internal themometer will do its job, calling for energy when the temp. drops.
Check to see what your what your degree drop is. Place your thermometer by the prob in your oven. Fire it to 350. Open the door and see how far the temp drops before it call for more heat.
This will give you and idea whats going on while during the time your usually checking. Also check for rings in your basic white cake recipe. If your finding rings, this is usually a good indicator of an uneven bake. Does any of this make sense? HTH
PS I am in no way any kind of expert on ovens. I've just spent a lot of time on the outside, looking in.
pan
 
489
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Joined Mar 3, 2002
Thanks Panini, I'll check out the oven using your advice. I'm not very pleased with my stove (GE Profile), but my choices were limited as I needed a slide-in oven without a backpanel to fit into the peninsula. The burner design is an abomination, with a gap in the ring and a slightly larger flame near the gap. And with an electronically controlled oven, I'm just waiting for the problems that will lead to replacement! The other thing that annoys me about the oven is that a beeper goes off to signify the temperature has reached the desired setting, but my mercury oven thermometer says otherwise. Grrrr.

Oddly, the oven seems sometimes to stay on temperature, at others to be as much as 50 degrees off. I keep a pizza stone on the oven floor which I think helps keep the temperature more even than it otherwise might be - at least when I'm not opening the door. I'll pay more attention and see what relation that has to my opening the stove. Usually when the oven is on, I am anxious and concentrate on the cake or pie itself rather than the pattern of the oven temperature.

Maybe I'll buy a sacrificial white cake mix, a cake where I'll be able to focus on the oven instead of the cake. A relatively labor intensive cake made with expensive chocolate isn't my idea of a sacrifice to the oven gods.

Oh, and as a rhetorical question: why do they bother to put windows in the door and then "paint" a screen on the inside of the outer pan so that you can't see through the window?
 
5,192
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Joined Jul 28, 2001
I just remodeled the kitchen in our new home. I was limited to space so I actually went with electric double wall ovens. I've always had gas and was hesitant, but I very please with the performance. I went with KA( not a great believer in their products, especially home) because I really like the idea of all the elements hidden. I have the conv./thermal choice. I used a box mix to test and was really pleased.
If your drop time is more then a few degrees the recovery time will usually have an effect on your baking. Slice the top off the cake and check for rings. If you have slow recovery you should be able to count the times you opened the oven.
If your calibration is off or your temp is fluctuating during the bake, I would definately give a call to GE. I was amazed at the responce to residential problems(not like commercial). I was unhappy with a little frey in my cloth gasket in the ovens and they sent someone right out. I had a little problem with a warped grate in the viking cooktop, replaced them all.
Take a hammer to the oven during the night and blame it one sleepwalking.:D
 
489
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Joined Mar 3, 2002
Thanks Panini. I'd rush right out for a box o' mix right now if it weren't snowing AGAIN. It was beautiful last night with all the leftover Christmas lights, this AM it's just a plain pain.

Oh for the room for double ovens! Well, actually my kitchen is about 20x12, but I keep my w/d in the kitchen and the end with all the windows has a table in it, and, and. Oh for the days when all one needed was a fireplace and a pump. :)
 
2,068
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Joined Dec 30, 1999
alexia,

Regarding the probe thermometers... I find mine extremely useful and see no difference between these versus any other thermometer in measuring the temperature because no matter which one you use, it's still measuring the temperature of the exact "space" in which it is located.

I think what you're more interested in are all the issues in temperature oven accuracy and maintaining it. There is an excellent article in one of last year's Cook's Illustrated issues specifically focusing on ovens and temperature. Even if you had 5 of the exact same ovens, they may read the same temperature on the outside but be slightly different on the inside. It discussed calibration, location of the elements, methods by which ovens maintain temperature, etc. There was also a suggestion on an oven thermometer kept inside the oven (assuming you can see thru your glass) which hung on a rack. I believe the recommended one was a Taylor for around $12, beating out the more expensive ones for accuracy and legibility. Why can't you see thru the glass? Have you tried a flashlight?

Also, check scene 9 from this show transcript.

Instead of raising the temperature to compensate for opening the oven door which can affect the structure of the proteins, etc in the food, just increase your cooking time by 5 minutes for each time you open the door.

One of the best ways to ensure stable oven temp after you turn the oven on, wait for a full 15-20 minutes before putting your food in. While ovens may read a paticular temp in the center of the oven, the walls might not have caught up and may still be cooler than that temp. Waiting will insure that the walls are hot as well, much like preheating a cast iron skillet thoroughly so that the heat is maintained.

I do recommend the probe thermometer. I have seen them readily at places like Ace Hardware, Kohl's, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Bed Bath and Beyond ranging in price from $15 - $30.

They are easy to use, accurate, will beep when your desired temp is achieved, have timers, etc. The thermometer can be on a magnet on the outside of your oven door while the probe is on the inside, just close the oven on the cord.

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Hope this helps.
 
489
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Joined Mar 3, 2002
Super! I'll pick one up next time I'm in the right place. The weather here, however, votes against any unnecessary trips anywhere. - Finally stopped snowing, roads were cleared, and now there's so much rain one must wade to get through to the car. GRRR
 
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