A Baking Debate: To Rotate or Not To Rotate While Baking?

A Baking Debate: To Rotate or Not To Rotate While Baking?

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Emma Christensen
May 24, 2010

Here's one to keep you up at night: does it really matter if you rotate a pan of cookies in the oven while baking? The argument is that hot spots in the oven will cause cookies (or brownies, bread, pie, etc.) to bake faster in some places than others, and rotating the tray helps everything cook evenly. But we're not convinced.

The counter argument is that opening the oven door lets out a surprising amount of heat, even when you're just quickly reaching in to rotate a pan. The drop in temperature could also cause baked goods to cook unevenly as the warm air sweeps out and the heating units blast on to correct the temperature.

By our thinking, if we just leave the oven door closed, the heat will even itself out. The fact that it's a closed system means that less heat will be lost and the heating units will come on less frequently. At least theoretically.

We've been experimenting in our oven with the two things we make most frequently: bread and chocolate chip cookies. So far we've found no real difference between either rotating the trays or letting them be. Then again, our oven in a previous apartment - an admittedly very old oven - was very definitely hotter in the back and we often ended up with slope-shaped loaves of bread.

Maybe it comes down to your own oven and figuring out what works best. What do you think?

Related: Why Do My Baking Sheets Buckle in the Oven?

(Image: Emma Christensen)

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