Chef’s Corner

Catering by Norris makes a variety of delicious, fresh pastries

Chef’s Secret #2

Knowing Your Ovens Temperature

Does this sound familiar? You are meticulously following each step of a recipe, but when you open the oven door at the prescribed amount of time, your creation is raw, overdone, or cooked unevenly. To solve this issue you will need to calibrate your oven. It’s a lot easier than it sounds and just requires a reliable oven thermometer and some time.

If you haven’t done this before, I recommend that you do a few simple tests before you bake another dish. Place the oven thermometer in your oven and heat your oven to 350 degrees. I would leave it on for one hour. After an hour, check the thermometer to see what the temperature is. You may want to tap the front of the dial to make sure the hands aren’t sticking. If it is not 350°, what temperature is it?  Keep notes. So, if your oven heats to 325° when you set it to 350°, then you know that you need to set it to 350° when you need it to heat to 325°.

Now set your dial to 375° and see what temperature it heats to after an hour. If it heats to 350°, then you can make the educated guess that your oven runs 25 degrees cold. Do one more test to see if this is indeed the situation. Heat your oven to 400°.  Check the temperature after an hour.  If the thermometer says 375°, then you can be reasonably sure that your oven is regularly heating 25 degrees less than what the dial on your oven face says. So you will always need to set your oven 25 degrees hotter to get the correct temperature.

Even with your oven calibrated, you will want to check the oven temperature every time you bake. Just to make sure the oven is still heating to the temperature you think it’s heating to. If you have an old oven, you might have a situation where the oven heats to random temperatures every time. If you use your oven a lot or really enjoy cooking, then it may be a good time (or a good excuse) to buy a new one. If you use it rarely, but still want your food cooked properly, then you’ll need to rely on the oven thermometer and allow enough time for the oven to heat or cool to the correct temperature.

I hope this helps you – enjoy cooking!

Catering by Norris makes a variety of delicious, fresh pastries

Chef’s Secret #1

Room Temperature Ingredients

Producing a consistent product day in and day out is vital to the Chef’s success. Each product begins with the formulation of a recipe and in theory, when followed will yield the exact taste, texture, and presentation every time. If only baking were that easy. This article focuses on the importance of the temperature of raw ingredients during the time of processing.

The best place to reveal the importance of ingredient temperature is in baking. When at room temperature, eggs, butter, and other dairy ingredients form an emulsion, which traps air. While baking in the oven, that trapped air expands and produces a fluffy baked goods.  Examples include a light-textured cake or a tender cupcake. Not only this, room temperature ingredients bond together since they’re warmer, creating a seamless and evenly textured batter. A smooth mixture equals uniformly textured baked goods. Cold ingredients do not incorporate together as easily, if at all! Clumpy frosting, chunky cheesecake, no spread cookies, dense bread and flat muffins are examples. In other words, complete recipe failure.

Being patient is critical when bringing ingredients to room temperature and trust us: the end result makes waiting worthwhile.