Kitchen Tip: Get an oven thermometer.


I get a lot of "cooking SOS!" text, emails and calls from friends and relatives.  I guess it goes along with my culinary Le Grand Diplôme. But, I love it and often learn something myself.

Recently a friend complained that her pumpkin pie was taking much longer to bake, and fully set in the middle, than the recipe had stated.  After hearing that she hadn't substituted any ingredients, had used the suggested sized baking pan, and hadn't doubled the recipe, I suspected the culprit could be the oven temperature.

We turn the oven dial to the temperature we want, wait for it to heat up, and assume that the oven is precisely calibrated and spot on with it's temperature.  Even if it is a 20+ year old appliance.  Sort of a big gamble, when you are trying for a specific target finished temperature, or delicate baking results.

In culinary school each of our ovens at our stations in the classroom had an oven thermometer, which we would check religiously at the start of cooking, and adjust the temperature dial accordingly.  We have a really good gas oven in our kitchen at home which always runs 50 degrees F too hot, so I go by the thermometer and adjust the dial as needed.

Oven thermometers are cheap and a life saver.  Or a pie saver.  Or a roast saver.  Or a souffle saver. (you get the idea).



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Catie Baumer Schwalb is a chef, food writer and photographer, who splits her life between the city and the country. Not too long ago Catie was a New York City based actress and playwright for more than a decade. She has her Master of Fine Arts from the National Theater Conservatory, and her Grand Diplôme in classic culinary arts from the French Culinary Institute in New York City. ... Read More

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