Kitchen Essentials Part 2: Ovens - Masters of Convection

Author: L. A. Briggs // Category: , , ,
Posted April 4, 2011 at 8:14 PM

One major appliance that every kitchen should have, and which most kitchens already have, is an oven. Everything from breakfast to lunch to deserts and main entrees as well as snacks and hors d'oeuvre can be prepared with the use of an oven.

So how exactly does the oven work to cook food? The answer is convection, and some conduction as well. Inside of electrical ovens there should be two sets of heating elements, one on the top and one on the bottom. The bottom is used for baking while the top is used for broiling. If the oven is a gas oven, there will only be one burner at the bottom of the oven, and there will be a separate broiling compartment under the main oven compartment.

The heat from the burner at the bottom of the oven transfers throughout the interior oven by means of convection. Convection is where heat transfers through a fluid, in this case air, by means of diffusion. And since heat rises, the top of the oven is hotter than the bottom, but typically the oven is approximately the same temperature throughout. This means that any food in the oven is cooked pretty much evenly on all sides. Conduction comes into play when the heat from convection is transferred to the pan or other object that the food is touching directly (See my previous post for more information on conduction).

Regardless of the type of oven, the temperature is controlled by a thermostat which is set at a particular temperature for the particular baking needs. How the thermostat works is identical to that of how the thermostat for a furnace works: the temperature, in this case that of the interior of the oven, is measured, and if the temperature drops below the set temperature the oven turns on and heats the interior up again, and once the temperature reaches the set temperature the oven turns off the heating element.

I typically use an electric oven, since that is all I have ever had the chance of working with, but I would really like to be able to see which I prefer based entirely on experience.

Recipe of the Day

Ham and Potato Bake

2 ½ cups diced boiled potatoes
1 ½ cups cubed ham
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream
2 eggs, beaten
3 Tbsp sliced green onion
1 tsp seasoned salt
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
Green onion slices

Arrange diced potatoes and ham cubes in a shallow buttered casserole dish. Stir together cheese, sour cream, eggs, green onion and salt. Pour mixture over ham and potatoes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes or until set. Sprinkle with green onion slices before serving.

This is one of my recipes that I’m not entirely sure of its origin.

1 Response to "Kitchen Essentials Part 2: Ovens - Masters of Convection"

J.D. Says :
4/6/11, 5:05 PM

Thanks for this post. I had to learn this for field session a couple of years ago. My group needed to design an optical-esque thermometer for an oven.

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