The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Calibrate Your Oven

Capn Dub's picture
Capn Dub

Calibrate Your Oven

I've seen many posts regarding disappointing results when instructions have been followed to the letter: "The crust was done, but the crumb was soggy in the middle"; "The crust was perfect, but the inside was dry"; "I had to bake fifteen minutes longer to get my loaf to look like yours"; etc.

It occurred to me that the problem may be that your oven isn't doing what it claims to be doing.  Maybe it is hotter (colder) than the setting would lead you to believe.

My old oven was fifteen degrees too hot compared to the setting; my new one was thirty-five degrees too cool.  I corrected both problems by calibrating with an infrared thermometer aimed at the baking stone after preheating to 350 degrees.  Recalibrated both and began to get the expected results.

Just a "heads up" to those who aren't getting what they expect.  Hope it helps.

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

I've used my thermometer to measure the heat on my griddle but never thought to measure the heat inside my oven this way.  You might want to try that calibration on different shelves in case you ever move the baking stone to a different position.

foodslut's picture

.... wonder if anyone can share more re:  connection between temp of stone inside home oven and air temp inside home oven?

Capn Dub's picture
Capn Dub

I can help you on that, too, Foodslut.

Everything within the oven, including the air, oven walls, shelves, inner surface of the glass, and the surface of the stone is, for all practical purposes, indeed within the limits of our ability to measure outside a sophisticated laboratory, is the same temperature. When the oven says 400° (assuming it is exactly calibrated), it is saying the air temp is 400°.  If the air is 400°, then everything in contact with the air is at that temperature.   Notice that I said "surface of the stone."  The interior of the stone may be cooler because the heat has not yet had time to migrate all the way through.  That is why it is a good idea to wait a while after the oven claims to have reached the set temp: you need the stone to store as much heat as possible so that the air temp doesn't drop when you open the door and put in that cold loaf.

Now, someone is liable to ask "What about the ice cubes I put in a pan on the bottom shelf?  They aren't at 400°, and the indicator reading doesn't change."  That is true, but the reason is that the ice is absorbing heat from the air as fast as it can, but the air is kept up to temperature by the hot surfaces and the burner or coil.  Thus, the air temp doesn't drop by enough to cause the indicaor to change.

I know that explanation is not as clear as it might be, but I hope it helps.