Lesson Learned: Don't Crowd the Oven

Lesson Learned: Don't Crowd the Oven

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Emma Christensen
Oct 18, 2010

Here's my face-palm moment for the day. I was toasting nuts for my no-knead pumpkin rolls and decided to toast some bread crumbs at the same time. Five minutes later, I checked on them and saw the oven temperature had shot up from 250° to over 500°! What the...? Broken temperature sensor? Um...no...

Both the nuts and bread crumbs were starting to burn and my stomach plummeted to my shoes. Our oven is relatively new, and I just couldn't believe it could have broken. Plus I had pumpkin rolls, a batch of cookies, and dinner to make. I needed my oven!

Torn between calling the repair company and trying to convince myself that, "Maybe I can just adjust the cooking times?" it hit me. I was an idiot.

Because I hadn't wanted to bother with re-arranging my oven racks to make room, I had put the tray of nuts and the tray of bread crumbs side by side on the middle rack. The fit was pretty snug, but they just barely fit.

But this also created an almost solid barrier right in the middle of the oven, with my oven thermometer hanging just below. Because my heating element is on the bottom of my oven, all the heat got trapped beneath the two trays and the temperature shot through the roof.

Sure enough, I re-arranged the racks and the trays to allow for more air flow and the temperature started dropping almost immediately. I had to toss some of the nuts that had burned on their bottoms, but my recipes were safe. Phew.

So lesson learned, friends. Even as we get busier with holiday cooking, don't crowd the oven!

Related: Cook's Confession: Do You Eat Your Mistakes?

(Image: Flickr member madmolecule licensed under Creative Commons)

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