Convection ovens have a fan inside that forces and circulates hot air, resulting in cooking times about 25 percent faster than conventional ovens. Although convection ovens are usually used in restaurants or other commercial situations, there are some models available for home use. Some of these home ovens combine features of convection and conventional ovens in one unit.
Cooking Meat and Poultry
Roasting meats in a convection oven is usually about 25 percent faster than roasting in a conventional oven. For example, a 16-pound turkey that roasts in a conventional oven for five and one-half hours will only take four hours in a convection oven. And a three and a half pound chicken will only take an hour in a convection oven compared to an hour and 20 minutes in a conventional oven. A five-pound pork loin will cook for about three hours in a conventional oven but take only two hours and five minutes in a convection oven. Rare beef standing rib roasts take 15 minutes per pound in a convection oven compared to 22 minutes in a conventional oven.
Vegetable cooked in a convection oven come out with brighter colors and more intense flavors than when cooked in a conventional oven. You can follow conventional recipes and reduce the cooking times by 25 percent. Because of the circulating air, there is no need to stir vegetables cooking in a convection oven.
Baking Cakes and Cookies
Baking cakes and cookies in a convection oven does not really save the baker much time. Because, in a convection oven, the outsides of cakes bake more quickly than the insides, the temperature needs to be lowered for baking, which extends the baking time. Generally, the temperature for baking cakes in a convection oven should be 25 degrees less than a conventional oven; this will reduce the baking time by only 10 percent. However, baking several pans of cookies in a convection oven is quicker than baking them in conventional ovens because the air circulates through the oven, circulating the heat evenly.
Breads do well baked in convection ovens. For most recipes, the temperature of a convection oven will need to be set 25 degrees lower than the temperature of a conventional oven. Even with the lower temperature, the cooking times for breads and pastries will be 25 percent less in a convection oven than in a conventional oven because of the circulating air.
Convection ovens are ideal for roasting nuts and grains. Besides taking far less time than conventional ovens, nuts turn golden brown without having to be turned during the process because of the circulating air. Nuts that take 20 minutes to roast in a conventional oven at 300 degrees will take only five to 10 minutes in a convection oven at 350 degrees.