baking 101

Perfect Baking 101 (lesson three) :: How to preheat your oven

Ironically, this is probably the one thing that everyone feels is the easiest part of baking—however, great failures occur in this simple step. Now that you’ve got your oven thermometer (lesson one) and you’ve calibrated your oven (lesson two), it’s time to combine the two and learn how to preheat your oven!

When your oven **beeps** signaling to you that it is preheated, it is actually telling you that the coil (or base, if you have a gas oven) is up the appropriate temperature. However, what you need to wait for is the entire oven to come to the same temperature. This takes a minimum of 20 minutes…often up to 30 minutes.

These are all the result of placing baked goods into an inappropriately pre-heated oven:

  • Burnt cookie bottoms
  • Dried-out cakes and meats
  • Overly-crispy pie crusts
  • Unleavened or sunken muffins

If goodies are tossed in the oven before the oven is completely hot, the outside of the goodies bakes at a faster rate than the inside, causing the above, and very unappetizing results. Waiting a full 30-minutes allows the heat to expand and fill the entire oven so that when you place your goodies in your now-calibrated oven to bake, the goodies will bake at an even rate, from top-to-bottom and inside-out.

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