Ask Peggy

How do I use my convection oven?

DEAR PEGGY: Can you tell me how to convert recipes for a conventional oven to use with a convection oven? —J.P., Superior, Wisconsin

Convection ovens have been used in bakeries for years, but they're becoming a popular choice in home kitchens. A convection oven has a fan that constantly circulates hot air in the oven, unlike a conventional oven—which typically has a heating element at the top or bottom. The continuously circulating air speeds baking by transferring more heat to the food. As a result, foods baked in a convection oven become browner, and the exterior cooks quicker than the interior.

When cooking foods in a convection oven, decrease the temperature 25 to 50 degrees or the bake time by about 25 percent. If the food is undercooked in the center but brown on the exterior, it's a good indicator the temperature should be lowered.

When baking with a convection oven, make sure air is able to circulate. Don't line baking racks with foil or use baking sheets that cover the entire rack. Roasting pans with low sides and cookie sheets without rims are preferred over pans with high sides. If your convection oven also cooks conventionally, choose the "conventional" mode for cakes and delicate items like meringues and puff pastries because it provides gentler heat.