The Parchment Paper Hack To Uncover Your Oven's Hot Spots

Most ovens have hot spots, which are areas with a higher concentration of heat. Because these spots can affect the quality of finished meals, home bakers should know which areas of their oven are hotter than others. In this case, a simple piece of parchment paper can unlock your oven's hidden secrets and greatly improve the outcome of your favorite recipes.

To get started, be sure the rack is dead center in the appliance. Set the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and wait until it's fully heated. At this point, take a parchment-lined baking sheet and position it on the center rack. White parchment paper is best to determine the differences in color as the paper heats up. Leave the baking sheet in the oven for 20 minutes or so, then remove. The darkened portions of the parchment paper signal the areas of the oven that receive the most heat. While this trick is highly effective, it's not the only tool in your arsenal.

No parchment paper, no worries

If you don't have any parchment paper on hand, you can use an alternate method to test your oven for uneven heating. In this case, all you need are a few slices of bread, which will serve the same purpose as parchment paper when attempting to pin down hot areas. To start, turn on your oven and set the temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. It's important that you allow the appliance to preheat to ensure utmost accuracy when testing for hot spots. If you want to be a real stickler, you can use a separate oven thermometer to make certain the oven is at the desired temperature.

Once the oven reaches 350 degrees Fahrenheit, position bread slices on various areas of the racks. You must spread out the slices to find all possible hot spots. Heat the bread until it turns a nice toasty brown, then turn off the oven and carefully remove the racks with the bread still on them. Check the doneness of the bread and take note of dark or burned spots. These are the areas of your oven that are the hottest and most likely to cause issues.

What to do if your oven has hot spots

Discovering your oven's hot spots is just the first step. Next, you'll need to develop some methods to prevent these hot spots from ruining your favorite recipes. Pizza stones are ideal for dealing with hot spots, as they take in heat generated by the oven and disperse it evenly to avoid burning your precious pizza dough. However, leaving the stone in the oven at all times can also remedy issues with hot spots, no matter what you're baking.

Because the center of the oven is typically the area with the most even heating, you can also try placing baking sheets there to ensure uniform doneness. When preparing multiple items at once, it's best to move baking sheets around. For instance, moving sheets from the top to bottom rack or the front to back helps avoid hot spots and makes for a more uniform bake. The more familiar you are with your oven and its capabilities, the better your home-baked meals will be.