When it comes to cooking, many people fear the unknown. They would rather use the items they know and, as a result, reject newer, improved cooking technologies. They assume these new technologies are too difficult to use or too expensive and perform the same functions as the old. These assumptions are utterly false, especially when it comes to the technology of convection cooking.
While regular ovens have a heating element on the bottom to heat the air and a heating element on top to broil, convection ovens add a fan at the back of the oven, used for circulating hot air. This provides an even flow of heat to the food and traps more moisture inside whatever is cooking. But wouldn't this take more time? No. Convection cooking is faster than traditional cooking, and it produces juicier and tastier food. In fact, convection ovens cook foods up to 25% faster. Additionally, food items will not get too hot, because while food is cooking for less time, it is also cooking at a lower temperature. Convection technology ensures that food cooks properly at a lower temperature and a faster pace than a convectional oven. This is especially helpful around the holidays, when relatives are visiting and you're anxious to cook your meals to perfection and get them on the table quickly. For all of those pies, pastries and cakes that need to be baked just right, convection ovens are a smart choice, as they heat desserts evenly, without burning.
Convection ovens are relatively new in the residential oven market. For years, they have been used in commercial bakeries and pizzerias. The reason bakeries have used them is because the added airflow browns their breads faster and more evenly. Pizzerias have used them to cook the top and the bottom of the pizzas at the same time and much more quickly than normal. Since these ovens were so effective, the same theory of convection ovens was brought into the home.
However, not all convection ovens are made alike. "True," "European," "Pure" and "Fan-Assisted" convection are just a few of the phrases thrown into the mix to confuse consumers about their ovens. "True" or "European" convection refers to an oven component in the back of the oven cell, similar to Dacor's Pure ConvectionTM mode. This is the most crucial part to achieve even baking in a convection oven. "Fan-Assisted" convection refers to using the bottom element along with the fan in the back to distribute the heat, found in Dacor's Convection BakeTM mode.
First, to get the most even airflow, the element must be in the rear of the oven. A rear element is often covered by a "baffle," or the back wall of the oven cell. It is called a baffle because it channels the air strategically to reach each rack position evenly. To bakers, this means no more shuffling cookies from one rack to another, or turning them around halfway through the baking cycle. It simplifies the baking process, which is what convection ovens were meant to do.
Second, the rear element needs a fan to circulate the air. One that uses reverse air flow is suggested. This means that the fan is pulling the air in, not blowing the air out. This design is brilliant in a couple of respects. It draws the cool air in, passes it by the element that surrounds the fan, and then pushes the air out through holes in the baffle wall. A fan blowing out would be hotter in one spot than another. Its harsh air would blow directly onto the rack, creating uneven baking. But since the air is pulled in by the fan, then gently pushed out through the holes, it will create a gentler environment for your delicate baked goods.
Finally, a filter placed in front of the fan causes the oven to run a lot cleaner. Since the air is drawn in, grease and particles from roasts and chickens catch in the filter, instead of hitting the fan and splattering all over the oven cell. A triple mesh stainless filter is most important, especially if you cook more than one item in the oven at a time. Since this filter catches the particles that transfer from one to another, you can bake them simultaneously. No flavors transfer.
Pure Convection gives you better heat distribution since it radiates from the rear of the oven cavity to the front. Heat is distributed to each rack positoin evenly. Pure Convection is best suited for roasting, meats, baked goods and multi-rack cooking.
Convection Bake cooks foods closest to the element first. This mode is best suited for foods that need to be browned or crisped on the bottom, like a pizza or loaf of bread.
If you already own a convection oven, you can also opt for a convection microwave oven, like the Dacor 24" Convection Microwave, which combines microwave and convection cooking in one neat, space-saving design. The result is a delicious meal with the browning effect of an oven in the speed of a microwave.
So why wouldn't you opt for better food, less cooking time and worry-free temperatures? Convection cooking is not only the smart option, it is the easy one. Using a convection oven is not much different from using a conventional oven. As with eveything else, making this change grows easier with frequent use. Opt for the best when it comes to holiday cooking, and embrace tastier, more quickly prepared food.
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