Oven Thermometer – Valuable Tool For Gluten Free Baking

Land Surveying Officer Here is a question for you.

What is one thing that land surveying
and gluten free baking have in common?

Answer: Both involve some form of precise measurement.

You can always measure things by what I call “guess-timation” (i.e. estimating distance, time, weight, temperature etc.). If you are good at it, you know that it can be very handy at times. It definitely has its place.

However, whether you are surveying a property, or baking gluten free bread, you want the end result to come out right. You want to have consistency and repeatability. Right?

In order to do this, accurate measuring devices are a must. In the kitchen, one such device that we recommend investing in, is an oven thermometer.

“But my oven already has a thermometer built into it.
Why do I need to get another one?”

I hear you say.

Well, you might be surprised to know that the temperature inside the oven is not necessarily what you set the dial at. Even up to as much as 15 – 25 ºF. What’s more, unless you have a convection oven, the temperature on each of the racks differs as well.

Typical Oven ThermometersThis kind of temperature variance can make a huge difference to the quality of the finished product. This is especially true in working with gluten free ingredients. 

Have you ever followed a recipe,
measured the ingredients perfectly,
yet you ended up with a
less-than-desirable result?
 

You know how demoralizing this can be, especially when you are first starting out in gluten free baking. Well here’s a way to help increase the chances of your getting the results you expect.

Getting To Know Your Oven:
The simple solution to the problem, just mentioned, is to get to know your oven and find out what’s REALLY going on in there, after you set the dial to a specific temperature.

To do that, you’ll need to get hold of a good oven thermometer. Prices range from just a few dollars to well over $50 for fancy digital models.

These are available at any kitchen supply center or department store. Places like Tandy and Dick Smith’s Electronics have good digital ones. Here is a link to Oven Thermometers at the AMAZON Online Store where there are so many varieties it’ll make your head spin.

When you make your selection, bear in mind that you want it to be easy to read through your oven window. You don’t want to be opening the oven door every time you want to check the temperature during an important bake.

I’ve included images (above) of two of the ones we’ve used for years (for reference). When we had our gluten free baking business we mainly used a quality digital readout that mounted outside the oven and connected to a probe temperature sensor inside the oven via a thin wire fed thru the door seal.

Remember, the cheaper the thermometer, the less likely you’ll get an accurate reading.

Calibrating Your Oven:
Now that you have your thermometer you can start the process to calibrate your oven. Here’s a short 2 1/2  min video outlining what you’ll need to do. He even mentions the little known adjustment you can make to the control dial on most modern ovens.

Testing Your Thermometer:
Before I begin with this section Karen has reminded me, that some people reading this may not be technically-minded and that all this may sound like too much trouble. If you fit this category may I suggest your seeking assistance from friends or family (or read our upcoming post). So, stay with me, and see what you think.

The accuracy of the above procedure depends entirely on the accuracy of the thermometer that you are using (that’s why it is good to shop for quality rather than just price).

One way to test the accuracy of the thermometer, is to measure the temperature of boiling water where you are. This is easiest to do with a probe-type thermometer. 

The temperature of boiling water is a standard 212ºF. (100ºC.) at standard pressure. As elevation increases, pressure decreases and boiling point changes. For example, at 5,000 feet (1,500m) the boiling point of water is about 203ºF. At 10,000 feet (3,050m) it is approx 194ºF.

So you can see, you need to take this into consideration if you are to use the temperature of boiling water to check your thermometer. Having said that, it is probably good enough to say that if you live below 3,000 feet (914 meters) then just assume 212ºF. (100ºC.).

If you or a family member feels adventurous, here is a helpful link to explore Boiling Point further.  

IDEA: This could be a great
science project to assign to your kids.

Assignment = To calibrate mom’s oven standardized according to the boiling temperature of water at local barometric pressure.

Temperature Difference on Each Shelf:
Another suggestion is to use your thermometer to check the temperature variance of the different shelves in your oven. You can use this to your advantage, if you are aware of the differences and the amount.

Summary:

  1. Predictable and consistent baking results depend on accurate temperature control.
  2. Oven temperature often is different from what the dial is set at.
  3. Acquire a good quality oven thermometer.
  4. Confirm that the oven thermometer is accurate.
  5. Calibrate oven and make adjustments (if your oven has this feature).
  6. After completing this process, bake with the renewed confidence that you know exactly what your oven is doing when you set the dial at a particular temperature.

Your oven is a tool like any other. The more you become familiar with it, the more it then becomes an extension of you, your desires and intent. I hope you’ll take the time to go through this calibration process.

I would love to hear any comments you may have about your baking victories or tribulations. Feel free to make a comment here.

To your continued Health and Gluten Freedom.
Cheers, Sven

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