Preheat Oven at …… for …. minutes….. But Why ?
Whenever you bake anything be it cake or bread or cookies or anything else, the first and foremost line in the ‘ method’ is Preheat the oven at ….. for …. minutes.
First of all I would like to mention that unlike my earlier posts, this write up is a very simple one but important. Just go through it once and you will be glad you did.
Preheating is the first and foremost requisite for baking.
It is like stretching before a run, or warming up the car, or letting the water get hot before you shower.
But what is meant by preheating? Why is it so important?
Is Preheating required only in baking?
What about while making chapatis on griddle or while frying ?
Do you just put griddle on gas stove and put chapati on it?
Do you keep wok on gas stove, add oil and start frying?
No. We first put griddle on flame, let it get heated for few minutes and then put chapati on it. Isn’t it?
Same with frying. Only when the oil is considerably hot, we start frying.
To understand the principle of preheating just do one simple experiment.
Put griddle on gas stove and put chapati on it.
Now, increase the flame to the highest. What will happen?
First of all, chapati will stick to the griddle and no matter how much you increase the flame, it will not be cooked properly. It will be very hard only almost inedible.
Same with frying in cold oil will result most of the oil absorbed by the food only again rendering it inedible.
Like this, even oven needs to be preheated, however for different reasons that soon we will look into and understand.
What is Preheating ?
This preparation is done by heating the oven empty, without anything, atleast for 10 minutes at the specified temperature, before you put the cake tin or other things to bake.
Empty oven means no tin/utensils. Of course, the racks will remain there only. You don’t have to remove them.
Why is Preheating Important?
If they do not get that push, result is heavy, undercooked, hard, rubbery breads/ cakes.
Those of you use yeast know very well that yeast needs to proofed in warm water. Try proofing yeast in cold water. If the yeast is added to cold water then no matter how much warm water you add, it will not activate. This is because it needs that initial push, that too only in warm water. Hot or cold water just kills it.
Secondly, a preheated oven will cook the food all the way to its center before outside of the food is burnt and inedible.
Like breads required to be baked at high temperatures ( 190 or 200 degrees centigrade) whereas, cakes are baked at low temperature ( 180 or 170 or 160 degrees centigrade) and cookies require even lesser temperature.
How to Preheat Oven
Preheating should be the first step of your preparations. Normally oven takes 15 minutes to preheat and that much time is sufficient to make your batter/dough.
In Case, it is lengthy process then start preheating somewhere before 15 minutes .
For preheating, first of all open the oven to make sure everything has been removed.
Rearrange the rack levels, if necessary.
Turn the oven on and set the temperature.
Wait until the oven reaches the desired temperature.
How to Preheat Microwave Oven
Preheating microwave oven is different from preheating oven with reference to time only. I do all my baking in microwave convection only.
Microwave convection gets preheated in just about 5 minutes even for 2oo degrees C. Whereas for the same temperature an OTG would take at least 15 to 20 minutes.
So, if you are planning to do your baking in microwave convection then preheat it just when you are 5 to 10 minutes away from getting your batter/dough ready.
Secondly, there are no racks in microwave so no question of adjusting them. But remember to keep the metal rack (which came along with microwave) inside the microwave on the turntable. Yes, metal in microwave. Here, I would like to share very important thing with you and that is when in the convection mode, microwave behaves just like an OTG. Therefore in convection mode you can keep aluminium/steel/iron vessels in it. Remember … in the microwave but only on convection mode.
For example, the recipe says, preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Your microwave takes about 5 minutes or less to preheat as compared to the 20-25 minutes in an OTG. So you can preheat the microwave even when you are just 5 minutes away from getting your cookie dough/ cake batter ready.
Now start preheating it by first pressing the ‘convection’ tab. Display unit will show 180 degrees by default. Set the desired temperature and the time. Press ‘start’ and wait for the beep to indicate that it is ready for baking.
How do you know when the oven is preheated?
Different ovens signify differently that it is ready to bake or say that it is preheated.
The reason for this is that oven takes a little while to settle into a temperature and they run through cycles of slightly higher and slightly lower temperatures, with the indicated temperature as the average.
But in some ovens (very old ones), they just have a on and off switch. Temperatures are not even mentioned so no question of setting temperature.
Obviously there is neither a beep nor light system. In such ovens, simply turn on the oven and wait for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, it is assumed that it is ready for baking. Same principle applies when baking on gas stove in cooker or wok.
Is Preheating a waste of Energy?
So if you set the temperature for 200-degrees and the oven reaches 200-degrees, it will stop heating and stop using power or fuel until the heat drops below 200-degrees and the heating elements start back up and cycle on again.
Secondly, if kept in a cold oven then baked goods might stick in the oven. As a result, the cooking time gets extended and that too with horrible result.
So, please never underestimate the importance of preheating.
Rather get in the habit of preheating your oven and get perfect baked goods.
My acknowledgements to the following sites for providing me the relevant and valuable information regarding preheating oven.
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