Ah, ovens! They can be so quirky, but most of us (especially us bakers!) can’t live without them. I have so many oven stories (some of them quite embarrassing). For example, when I lived in my first apartment on Côte-des-Neiges, I didn’t use my oven for a full year because I thought it was broken. It was a gas oven, and when I’d set it to 350ºF, it would heat up, then turn off. I assumed this was a dangerous situation because of the gas line. Turns out that if you left it at 350ºF, the oven would magically turn itself back on, as needed, to maintain that temperature (duh!). Boy, did I not get that. I thought it was a pilote light issue, so I baked nothing for a full year. Obviously that was a very sad year, and also it was pretty dumb of me. And there was the time I practically lit my oven on fire with melted butter that dripped off a batch of homemade buttery puff pastry. The butter pooled so nicely on the floor of my oven and it really coated the heating element. My oven was set to 425ºF, so I’m really not exaggerating when I say my oven was on the verge of a fiery blaze. I’m pretty sure that incident is the cause of my fire alarm phobia. Also, cleaning up a pool of butter from the floor of an oven is no fun (now my oven is lined with foil so that cleanup is a breeze).
If you want to know how to get to know some of your oven’s quirks (using an oven thermometer and a loaf of bread), you should head over to the Food Bloggers of Canada website for this month’s Kitchen Geekery column about getting to know your oven.
And, if you have any kitchen questions that are bugging you or topics that you’d like me to cover? Let me know in the comments!
Janice Lawandi is chemist-turned-baker, working as a recipe developer in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She studied pastry at Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa and cooking at l’Académie Culinaire. She has a BSc in Biochemistry from Concordia University and a PhD in Chemistry from McGill University. Visit janicelawandi.com to see my portfolio.