Why You Shouldn't Use Your Oven's Convection Setting For Baking Cake

Using your oven's convection setting can be enticing, but not knowing the right situations to use it is one of the most common ways we use our ovens wrong. And when you're baking delicate cakes, using convection can ruin the final product's shape and texture by interfering with the chemistry of baking.

The difference between convection and conventional ovens is that in convection, a large fan and exhaust system circulate hot air around the oven. Thanks to this air movement, convection ovens can produce a quicker roast with more consistent heat distribution.

On its face, the idea of faster and more even cooking can sound attractive — especially when it comes to baked goods. However, blasting the surface with hot air can actually roast the exterior of baked goods too quickly, producing cakes that don't rise properly and come out of the oven with a crust closer to that of artisanal bread.

Here's how convection ovens mess up the chemistry of your cake

The reason you shouldn't necessarily use convection for cakes is because the strong air circulation interferes with the complex chemistry of baking. Because moisture is being whisked off the cake's surface and removed from the oven, the exterior of the cake can cook more quickly than the interior, which won't be fluffy enough.

The chemical reactions that happen while a cake is baking create a delicate balance — even opening the oven door too frequently might make your cake collapse. Convection can cause protein networks to develop too quickly on the surface, creating a more pronounced crust while leaving the inside undercooked. The blowing air can crush the air bubbles that would've lifted the cake to its full height and could even cause the surface of the cake to warp or tilt.

It's not all-or-nothing: Convection cooking can be helpful when experienced bakers know how to use it. If you're baking multiple trays of cookies at once, convection can be helpful for evenly distributing the heat, eliminating the need to rotate cookie sheets. And when making notoriously difficult croissants, for example, the exhaust function is helpful to alleviate the steam produced by the pastries. But when you're baking cakes at home, convection could do more harm than good.