Biscuits burning (with boredom now)
December 4, 2006 7:24 AM   Subscribe

My oven burns stuff on the bottom yet is undone on top, despite using prescribed minimum bake temp/time. WTD?

For example, biscuits from a tube: I do everything as described on the packaging, correct temperature and using the minimum (if not less) bake time. The bottom is burnt and the top/middle is barely done. This is happened with cookies as well. For biscuits, I resort to taking them out of the oven and flipping them half way through the bake.

Any ideas why this happens? Could the temperature be off? I'm putting things on the top rack, closest to the top of the oven. Could it be the cookie sheet I use?
posted by jacobjacobs to Food & Drink (17 answers total)
The temperature could definitely be off; get an oven thermometer and see. If you want to be really sure, you can check the oven thermometer in boiling water. You also want to use the middle rack for baking unless otherwise specified, and finally, cheap cookie sheets can also cause the behaviour you describe. If you do a lot of baking you owe it to yourself to invest in some good tools. Cooks Illustrated/America's test kitchen do some good equipment reviews if you need advice on what to buy.
posted by TedW at 7:28 AM on December 4, 2006

Second TedW, could be a bad cookie sheet, try using some parchment paper as a buffer on your current cookie sheet and that might do it. Otherwise, get a new one.
posted by rmless at 7:32 AM on December 4, 2006

A pretty similar question asked recently.

Try reducing the temperature. Sounds like your oven runs 50 degrees hot or more.

Silicone baking sheets (Silpat) or cookie sheets with air inside (Airbake) will solve burned cookie problems.

A pizza stone or a brick in the bottom of the oven can help moderate the temperature of the oven, keeping it more consistent.
posted by jellicle at 7:32 AM on December 4, 2006

Is it gas or electric? Trying to cook stuff properly on the average gas oven is a fool's errand.
posted by cillit bang at 7:34 AM on December 4, 2006

Is the pan black? We burn stuff all the time in our black pan - we can now only use it for certain things.
posted by internal at 7:37 AM on December 4, 2006

Make sure it's all the way up to temp. before putting anything in, as well. You can burn stuff on the bottom by putting it in the oven while it's still heating up.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:45 AM on December 4, 2006

Also, make sure the pan isn't touching the sides of the oven.
posted by jplummer at 7:47 AM on December 4, 2006

Our gas range runs at least 25 degrees hot, which was very frustrating until I began to grok it. (I grew up with an electric.) I stopped using 'insulated' cooking sheets when I was 15 - they suck. A plain sheet of metal is all you need. It is cheaper to buy insulated ones, frustratingly. Keep looking until you find one that isn't.
posted by cobaltnine at 7:52 AM on December 4, 2006

Trying a different cookie sheet is a good idea, as is checking with an oven thermometer. Ovens commonly suck, esp. ones in apartments. Ours runs hot enough to merit some compensation.

Another might be to just put another empty cookie sheet under the actual-cooking cookie sheet so that the actual-cooking cookie sheet is only heated by hot air instead of by direct radiation from the element.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:10 AM on December 4, 2006

That can happen if the rack in the oven is too near the bottom. Try moving it upwards. (But get an oven thermometer, too.)
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 9:44 AM on December 4, 2006

I am not an electrician, but you might want to check to make sure the upper heating element is working. I had to replace mine a while back because I was having the exact issue you're describing. To test it, put a piece of bread to toast in the oven and turn it to broil. That should roast the hell out of the top of whatever is in the oven.

Oh, and the suggestions about testing your oven temp are good, too.
posted by wearyaswater at 10:56 AM on December 4, 2006

As others have said, get an oven thermometer and preheat for longer. Even on good ovens, it's best to preheat for about a half hour to make sure the heat is evenly distributed and stable. Place the rack in the middle, too.
posted by rorycberger at 11:40 AM on December 4, 2006

With regards to the cookies, taking them out and letting them cool usually fixes the "uncooked on top" problem.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:26 PM on December 4, 2006

I had this *precise* problem with my oven. It gradually got worse over time; at first it was keeping things in for an extra two or three minutes, and then the pumpkin pies that wanted another twenty minutes, and by the time I realised the problem was with the oven and not me, I could put a sheet of cookies on the very top rack and they'd burn on the bottom before the tops were even baked, much less golden.

In my case, I had an appliance repairman in to look at it. Both the top and bottom burners were igniting just fine, so he replaced the sensor (presumably the temperature sensor) and it's been absolutely perfect ever since.
posted by Andrhia at 2:05 PM on December 4, 2006

Provided your oven is working properly, all burners/elements lighting and temperature steady, you can then try getting a more massive baking sheet or a pizza stone. The thin tin sheets promote burning on the bottom, whereas large, massive objects like slabs of granite heat more evenly. cast-iron skillets work great, too.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 2:33 PM on December 4, 2006

Three things could be happening, your top element is out and your oven relies on it to brown, you are using a huge cookie sheet that is blocking all heat circulation, or (as Andrhia stated) your oven is all out of whack. To test for the first problem, try to broil something. Of course, this is if you have an electric oven. If it doesn't broil, you need to replace your top element. If the element is fine and your cookie sheet is not ginormous, you probably need to call a repairman.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:37 PM on December 5, 2006

Very strange. No oven I've ever used employed the top element in baking. That was stictly for broiling.

An appliance repairman once told me that the oven sensor was far less likely to be bad than the liklihood of an oven thermometer being inaccurate. That being said, when I once had an antique gas oven with no gauge, I had to use the thermometer. My baking had never been better!
posted by Goofyy at 3:43 AM on December 6, 2006

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