The Hack To Reduce The Amount Of Time It Takes To Preheat Your Oven

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For every cookie or pie you've ever made, you've preheated the oven. It's a crucial step that is an afterthought if done when a good recipe recommends. On the other hand, if you forget to preheat the oven, the time it takes to do so can have a major impact on your cake as it waits in the oven.

Aside from a few quirky recipes that go into a cold oven, like this pound cake from Food Network, an oven needs to be preheated. East Coast Appliance explains that putting food into a cold oven isn't a head start. It'll just prolong the time for the oven to heat, which adds to the total bake time. Also, rising temperatures will yield an uneven bake that will affect the rise and texture of the baked goods. Needless to say, both of these factors can potentially ruin your recipe and plans for the whole day.

Most ovens take 15 to 20 minutes to preheat, but the precise time is affected by the target temperature and the size of the oven. For example, some air fryers, which are really just small convection ovens, per The Washington Post, don't need to preheat. On the flip side, letting your oven preheat for too long is a waste of gas or electricity. It's best to know how long your oven takes to preheat, and account for that time as you prep.

The broiler hack to preheat your oven as fast as possible

If you just can't seem to remember the preheating step, there are ways to minimize the time it takes to preheat the oven. According to East Coast Appliance, gas ovens, on average, will preheat faster than electric ovens. Even if gas stoves could become a thing of the past, a forgetful baker will always appreciate that speedy preheat. Thankfully, the newest electric ovens are designed to heat up as fast as a gas oven.

Another hack to hasten the preheat is to fire up the broiler, per East Coast Appliance. Broilers heat up almost immediately and that blast will give the baking elements a head start. Just turn on the broiler for three to five minutes before preheating the oven. Obviously, you'll want to turn off the broiler before starting any baking.

The final tip is to keep the door closed. Every time the door opens, the hot air escapes, prolonging the process. So, keep the door shut until you add the food, and keep the door shut for as long as possible during baking for the same reason. There's a window and a light for a reason.

Now that your oven is preheated, make sure that it's accurate

According to America's Test Kitchen, oven settings can be as much as 50 degrees off from the actual oven temperature. The only way to know if the reported temperature of your preheated oven is accurate is to get an oven thermometer. Their favorite, the CDN DOT2 ProAccurate Oven Thermometer, is less than $10 on Amazon.

Once you have a thermometer, CNET explains the right way to test your oven. Set a rack in the center of the oven. Set the thermometer in the center of that rack, and turn your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the oven has indicated it's preheated, check the oven thermometer. It's a good idea to take a few readings over the course of an hour because ovens cycle on and off within a range. To account for this, it's best to simply average those readings. This offers a simple solution for compensating for minor discrepancies. For larger errors, it's best to call a technician.

If your oven is accurate, safely remove the thermometer and bake with confidence. There's no need to leave the thermometer in the oven at all times. It takes up space and will become tough to read as it gets dirty. It's also a good idea to re-test your oven every six months.