Baking in a Toaster Oven
After two frightening hydro bills, I decided that I needed to investigate more energy efficient methods for baking small items. Typically I would heat up my full-sized conventional oven to bake a crust for cheesecake which would take 10-15 minutes after preheating for probably 15-20 minutes. I still intend to use my large oven for bread, but I suspect many other things could be done more economically in a counter-top oven.
My toaster oven doesn't have convection or rotisserie features, but it seems well designed. It has a crumb tray, rack, and aluminum pan. With all of those in place, I tried baking chicken strips and was impressed how evenly they browned, and it even seemed faster than in the large oven. I think I hadn't tried it sooner because I feared the cleanup, but the materials seemed to shed any debris very easily. I used to use my George Foreman Party Time grill almost every day and it was an ordeal to clean but probably saved me a lot of hydro, though at the time I had a self-cleaning oven that was well insulated.
This morning I tried baking a Dutch Baby Apple Pancake crust in the toaster oven. I didn't put the pan in this time, and I think that was a mistake because the oven burned the butter I was trying to melt before adding the batter. The second attempt was with the pan and the butter melted well enough, though the crust didn't come out quite as well as in the conventional oven.
Because this toaster oven is 10" wide, I think I might try baking a tart crust or cheesecake crust in it, but of course these items have a lot of butter so I'm a bit nervous about it. I don't have a working oven thermometer right now to test the accuracy of the temperature.
If anyone else has used a counter-top oven for small items, I would love to hear about any helpful tricks. I'm not planning to try anything that takes much more than half an hour to bake.
If anyone has found a counter-top convection oven that bakes great cakes, that would be of interest, too!