The Simple Hack For Finding Your Oven's Hot Spots

Knowing your stove is key to consistently cooking and baking good food. Whether you are baking cookies and cakes or cooking up a chicken dinner, you want to ensure your food cooks evenly. If you have cookies burning around the edges and biscuits that burn on the bottom before the center is fully baked, it is probably time to figure out the hot spot in your oven. As King Arthur Baking Company explains, an oven is an insulated metal box that can heat up to extreme temperatures to cook your food the way you want it. Bakers tend to favor the oven at a balmy 350 degree Fahrenheit, but some — most — ovens are not going to be an even 350 degrees throughout the box. 

The hottest parts of the oven will be the sides, the bottom, and the top. So, if you are baking food that on sheet pans, chances are those sides closest to your oven walls are going to bake or cook quicker than what's in the center. But lucky for us, Kitchn has devised a way to locate our oven's hot spot using a pantry baking staple. What is the staple and what's this magical method?

Roast a pan of sugar to find your oven's hot spot

To find your oven's hot spot, you are going to need an 11x17 sheet pan, parchment paper, and sugar. Move your oven rack to the middle setting in your oven and fire up your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line your sheet pan with parchment paper so you don't have to scrub off anything that burns and spread an even layer of white sugar on it. Kitchn notes that one cup of sugar should do the trick. Once your oven is at 400 degrees, pop the sheet pan in and let it bake for ten minutes (probably best to set a timer). After the ten minutes is up, take the pan out of the oven and observe.

If you see melted sugar, that's where your oven is the exact temperature you have it set to, but where you see burnt sugar is your hot spot, and if the sugar has remained unchanged, that's a cool spot. Knowing this information will allow you to adjust where you place your pie and cake pans while they bake. You can do a similar experiment with a loaf of bread. King Arthur's Baking Company details this method which uses a cheap loaf of bread and suggests placing your racks where you normally keep them positioned instead of moving them to the center. The bread method takes a little longer, but it can also help you get to know your oven's personality a little better.