Stay Cool! Make Your Oven Work Double Time

We try to avoid turning on our oven as much as possible during the summer. It heats up our apartment faster than you can eat a popsicle! That's why when we do have to use our oven, we make it work double-time.

The picture above is from a few evenings back. We baked two loaves of bread (one for now, one for the freezer), and roasted a bunch of beets while we were at it. The beets are what you see wrapped in foil next to the loaf of bread. As the oven was cooling down, we also toasted some nuts for salads during the week and made a half-batch of cookies from some dough we had in the freezer.

That's four things all in one relatively brief cooking session! We still heated up the house a little, but we were also able to get a lot of cooking done in a short period.

A few things to think about:

Cooking Temperatures - Cooking temperatures for foods can usually be adjusted up or down by 25° without significantly changing how they cook. So as long as foods are being cooked within a range, they'll be fine. We normally cook our bread at 450° and our beets at 425°. We just put them all in the oven at 450° and kept a closer eye on the beets.

Start with the Highest Cooking Temperature First - Ovens heat up fast, but take a long time to cool off. We usually cook things that need the highest temperature first and then turn the oven temperature down in steps for other lower-heat items.

Plan Ahead - Never is planning meals ahead more worthwhile then in the summer. We actually need those beets for a salad later in the week, but we knew they'd keep for a few days if we made them ahead with the bread. Ditto on the toasted nuts. The cookies we made because we had the dough. Normally we bake them off individually for a fun mid-week dessert, but in the summer, we'd rather bake them ahead of time.

Do you have any other tips for using the oven during the summer?

Related: Stay Cool! Favorite Easy, Quick, No-Bake Desserts

(Image: Emma Christensen)