Google Sugar Dot Cookies: Bakers, Calibrate Your Ovens!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bakers, Calibrate Your Ovens!

It's not you, it's your oven! Seriously, it really could be! If your baked goods aren't coming out quite right, check your oven's temperature. Your oven could be way off. Mine was.

If you read my experiment post, you'll remember that I was trying to figure out why my cookie dough was spreading so horribly while baking.

I concluded that three things really helped minimize spreading:
  • More flour.
  • Chilled dough.
  • Correct, lower oven temperature.
That last one, the oven temperature, is the most difficult to fix when you have a finicky oven.
Please meet my new BFF. He's the one that clued me in on the fact that my oven was partially to blame for my spreading issues. He's the one that's going to help me solve them. Thanks Harold! Where would I be without you?
If you're having similar oven issues, you can easily find an oven thermometer. I found Harold at Bed, Bath & Beyond for just a few dollars.

I baked my first batch since my experiment and thought I had everything figured out and that I'd achieve perfect cookies this time with Harold's help. Unfortunately that didn't happen. I spent hours raising the temp, waiting for it to get there, lowering the temp, raising it again. It took forever. To make matters worse, the temp lowered a bit each time I opened the door. I wasn't very patient and put pans in when the temperature wasn't where I wanted it to be.

I had spreading issues again.

It wasn't you Harold. It was me.
After that long, un-fun cookie baking session, I decided that I'd have to do one of the following:
  • Call a repair man.
  • Bake at my parents' house.
  • Buy a new oven.
The third wasn't really an option. The first sounded costly. While visiting my parents is always nice, baking there would be rather inconvenient.
I realized there was actually a fourth option. It involved Google and a screwdriver. At least that's what I was thinking. There has to be some knob or screw that calibrates the oven. I can do that, right? So off to Google.
"How to Calibrate Oven". That's what I typed in and there were results. Yay! I can do it myself! But then I quickly realized that most of the results were for calibrating an oven that has a dial to regulate the baking temperature. Mine's digital.
If you happen to have the dial-type oven and need to calibrate, it is super easy. You just pop off the dial, turn two screws, turn another dial, then test it out. Here's a Youtube video that shows you how.
I went back to Googling and found something about digital ovens and checking the user's manual to find out how to calibrate it. Doh! Why didn't I think of that? I guess because I thought they'd tell me that if my warranty had expired that I'd need to call for a repair. How wrong I was. There it was, in black and white - "Oven Temperature Adjustment". All I had to do was press a few buttons on my oven's keypad! I didn't even need a screwdriver.
I have a Maytag Gemini. I can adjust my temperature -35 degrees to +35 degrees. I chose one, waited a while for it to heat, adjusted, waited for a while, and so on. I ended up going +20 degrees. I'll have to wait until my next baking session to see how well that works. I can always adjust again. I may have to go higher.

While Googling the calibrating issue, I ran into a post that talked about using a pizza stone in your oven.

Here they are, working together as one.

Edit: For an update on my cookie dough spreading problem, please see this post.

2018 Edit:  I've come a long way since this post!   I'm now teaching online, live video classes.  One of them is on this very subject.  Join me online for a class or two!

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