Cooking in Student Residence
October 3, 2004 11:27 AM   Subscribe

The ovens in my wonderful student residence have three settings - off, small flame, and big flame. Suggestions for what to do when I need to cook at 180C, 280F, Gas Mark 4, or what ever else takes my fancy?
posted by Orange Goblin to Food & Drink (6 answers total)
buy a thermometer?
posted by the cuban at 12:18 PM on October 3, 2004

you can only use that stove to cook small flame food or big flame food. be sure to check the labels when you shop. using the wrong stove to cook food can be hazardous.
posted by quonsar at 1:21 PM on October 3, 2004

Yeah, buy an oven thermometer. They're fairly inexpensive at kitchen supply stores.

Time was, cookbooks recommended baking things in a fast oven or a slow oven, until done. Now everything's spelled out for us, but as I've become a more experienced cook I've learned how to achieve excellent results by winging the temp and time.

Get an oven thermometer and figure out to what temperatures the small flame and big flame settings are equivalent, and then from there you can learn to adjust the cooking time to suit your needs.
posted by padraigin at 1:41 PM on October 3, 2004

Also, remember that things that are baked but don't need to have a specific form (anything without a crust -- pies -- or density -- cakes) that you an always move things about in the baking dish during the cooking process to advance thorough cooking and avoid problems.
posted by Dreama at 1:58 PM on October 3, 2004

Contrary to popular belief retail ovens, whether gas or electric, do not maintain a constant set temperature by varying the heat input. They swing both above and below the set point by cycling the burner/element off and on. IE: set your oven at 350 and the actual temperature inside will rise to 375; drop to 325; rise to 375; drop to 325; etc.

So like the others have said buy an oven thermometer (cool remote digital models are under $100 now) and manually turn the stove off and on around your desired set point. Use the large flame to initially come to temperature and the small flame to cycle up (less cycles and slower rate of change).
posted by Mitheral at 10:05 AM on October 4, 2004

Get an oven thermometer. I lived in a place once with an oven like that, and was amazed at the improvement in my baking. Yet an oven repair man assured me latter that it made no sense, as the built-in thermometers on normal modern ovens are superior to the cheap things sold at the grocery store.

High and low flames aren't very meaningful if you want a specific temperature. One just heats faster (and harsher) than the other.
posted by Goofyy at 10:06 AM on October 4, 2004

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