By Sharon Ng
We recently purchased a new home, and when I say new, I mean new to us. The house is old, as in old school, circa 1909. It has been fully renovated, with the exception of this little beauty (which has been checked out by an electrician). Please excuse the oddly placed lid beside the stove, this picture was intended for my mother's eyes only, but you are welcome to a little glimpse of my life just the same.
I am in love with the kitchen, and this stove. We moved in the week of Christmas, and I am smitten with this stove, but honestly a little bit anxious. Every time we get a new stove, it's a bit of a new experience, but this one is way more experienced than I am! From what we can figure, it's a 1940 O'Keefe and Merritt. It is going to be an experience, and as excited as I am, I am excepting all tips and suggestions.
The first thing I am going to do (knowing it's been checked out by an electrician), is check it's temperature. Over time, it's common that ovens lose a little heat and this baby has had some time. Also, keep in mind that an oven circulates to keep its temperature relatively constant, that said, it goes up and down as needed to keep that temperature. This is why it is best when cooking to not open your oven unless you have too. Why do we do this? I do it too, I have an oven light, yet I still open the door! This makes the temperature fluctuate wildly, and can even alter the way baked goods come out. There must be some name for this condition...
Testing the temperature can be done several ways. This is also called Calibrating. To calibrate your oven you can use the sugar method, which I will share with you, or use an oven safe thermometer.
Using an oven safe thermometer
Place an oven safe thermometer in the oven. Turn oven on and when the oven indicates that the oven is preheated, check the thermometer. Setting and checking at 300 degrees Farenheight is a good mid range. If the thermometer says that your oven is only 275, then you know that you need to turn the dial up an additional 25 degrees, or call your repair person.
Calibrating Using the Sugar method
Put a square of foil down on a cookie sheet, a 5 inch by 5 inch square should be big enough. Put a table spoon sized scoop of plain granulated sugar in the middle of this square. Then spread the scoop just slightly, so it isn't a big pile.
Set oven to 350. Insert the sheet with sugar. After 30-45 the sugar should still be powdery. It may brown a little, and that is fine, it may melt a little and that is fine. If it melts a LOT however, your oven is running too high. Now, after that is done, turn the oven up to 375 degrees F. In approximately 15 minutes your pile of sugar should be melted into a caramelized, liquidy puddle. If your puddle isn't puddled by 15 minutes, you now know that your oven is running too cold.
You can now make adjustments or call a repair person.
Tip for you Celsius folks: 350° F, is 177° C; and 375° F is 190° C.
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