Everying takes too long to bake and baked uneven. What is the best electric range for cooking at high altitutde?
Posted: 17 November 2011 04:15 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Earlier this month, I replaced my Kenmore Range (both the stove top and oven were starting to fail) with a 5.9 cu. ft. Freestanding Flex Duo Oven with Radiant Electric Range. While I love the stove top, the oven leaves a lot to be desired. I’ve baked several different things with this oven, both with and without convention cooking and with and without using the dual oven. I have placed the racks as the user manual recommends for baking. I bake at high altitude, almost 7000’ and have adjusted for that in terms of Baking Soda, Baking Powder, liquid, etc.  I prefer to bake with Agave Nectar as the sweetener but have also tried a combination of both and with just white sugar. I bake from fresh ingredients and not ingredients out of a can.

The results are pretty much the same. Instead of what I understand should happen at high altitude, less cooking time, it takes anywhere between 50% to 75% more time and it cooks and browns unevenly, more at the edges and is sometimes nearly raw in the center unless I over bake it.

My question is two fold. First, is it me or the stove? If it is me, what should I do differently? Second, if it is the stove, I can still return it. What is the best baking stove with a very good (preferably great) electric range as I cook all of our meals daily.

Lee

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Posted: 17 November 2011 08:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Have you verified the temperature inside the oven using a separate oven thermometer?

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Posted: 18 November 2011 07:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Yes to what Charles said, for starters you should pick up an inexpensive oven thermometer and see what it says.  If you bake something for a longer time than the recipe states, even if the internal temperature of the baked good is correct, it will suffer and be dry.

For the agave substitution, you need to account for the water in the syrup (i.e., remove the correct amount of liquid from elsewhere in the recipe), and if the recipe you are altering contains an acidic sugar (ie., brown sugar), you may need to add acid to the batter to get the eggs to set earlier rather than later.

If possible, you should make a recipe that you’ve made before at altitude, using same pans, ingredients, etc. and with no subsitutions, so that the only new thing is the oven.  And I would start with no convection, just the regular bake function.

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Posted: 18 November 2011 11:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Thank you Julie and Charles.  Both are excellent recommendations and I will try them. Depending upon the results, I may still want recommendations on ranges/ovens. Any thoughts there? Lee

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Posted: 18 November 2011 12:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Kenmore electric ranges get excellent ratings by Consumer Reports, generally topping out much more expensive brands such as Viking, but it all depends on the model.  I’m leaning towards getting a GE induction cook top and a Kenmore double oven, if I can find the space for the latter.

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Posted: 18 November 2011 12:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Thanks Charles. I may need to look at what cabinetry I can loose in this decision as opposed to what fits. I too was very pleased with my old Kenmore for baking but the stove top was very substandard. Hadn’t thought of two different systems. Makes a bit of sense though. Lee

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Posted: 19 November 2011 10:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Thanks again for your recommendations. I tested the oven and thought you might like to see the results. The lower over In the center on the rack at the position that is recommended for baking, it is as the temp was set. In the back 25 degrees hotter, 20 degrees hotter on either side of the oven. The top oven was actually 25 degrees hotter than set (with convection) and 5-10 degrees hotter. Lee

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Posted: 19 November 2011 12:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Interesting.  Clearly those data don’t jibe with the problem you’re having.

However, if we step back to basic physics, if you expose batter to a given temperature for a given amount of time, it will cook.  So either your timer is twice as fast or the batter isn’t being exposed to the proper temperature.  A further refinement of your test might be to place the actual bake pans you use in the oven and put a thermometer inside one of them.  Perhaps the presence of the pan alters the temperature distribution in the oven.

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Posted: 19 November 2011 02:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I ran the tests and here is what I found. The problem is the baker and not the oven. With grocery store purchased pans, one metal, one glass, the interior of the metal was 375 in the metal and 350 in the glass when set to non-convection and 350 and 325 respectively when set to convection. Clearly, my situation requires testing to see what needs to be adjusted for my elevation (and I’m nearly 8000’ - typo above), my dietary preferences, etc. Thank you for all your help Charles. Lee

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Posted: 19 November 2011 02:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Are the grocery store pans dark?  They will tend to absorb radiant heat faster than shiny pans, hence getting hotter.  This explains an overbaked exterior and underbaked interior, but it still doesn’t explain the increase in baking times.  The 325 in the glass pan using convection would explain a somewhat longer baking time, but the other temps would suggest a normal or shorter baking time.

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Posted: 19 November 2011 03:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Yes, the metal pans are charcoal grey and what you suggest makes sense to me. I think I will try to bake a quick bread exactly as the recipe calls for to see if in fact the temperature is close to what it should be, with basic leavening adjustments and high altitude flour. I’ll post my results. Lee

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Posted: 21 November 2011 01:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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The results confirm that it was the baker, not the oven. I suppose this is typical, but I’ve been baking since the 1970’s as my mother loved to bake. (Her “Joy of Cooking” still graces my counter top.) This experiment proved how much I “guesstimated” on measuring ingredients and substituted without consideration impacting the end results. Baking really is about good ingredients, physics and chemistry (and probably love).

Testing methodology: I baked two identical loaves, one in the upper oven and one in the lower over using the flex dual oven insert and Baker’s Secret metal pans. Both were placed in the middle of the rack and rack slot recommended for baking by the manufacturer’s manual. The upper oven loaf took 55 minutes and the lower 60. The upper loaf was nicely browned all over while the lower loaf was a bit pale on top, browned on all sides. Both remained moist in the center.

When using Agave Nectar as a substitute for sugar, deduct 3 oz of liquid/per cup for a recipe that calls for white sugar. I determined the ratio by adding enough water to a cup of sugar to match the viscosity of the nectar while remaining at one cup. Obviously, if the nectar’s viscosity is thinner or thicker, that ratio would change. For brown sugar, add 1- 2 tablespoons of dark molasses, real maple syrup or apple cider and deduct 4 ounces of liquid. If the baker lives at lower altitude or sea level he/she should test the ratio for themselves. But, if they need (or prefer as I do) low Glycemic baked foods - Agave is fantastic and the baked goods are sweet tasting, nice texture (if you follow the recipe!) and moist.

After this experiment, I concluded that I would recommend the Samsung electric ceramic range/dual insert oven (with the caveat that the purchaser test the oven for their specific location). The oven’s dual oven insert was why I purchased this range in the first place. The insert provides for two ovens or a full oven as needed and a warming drawer - all with independent controls. This is a big plus as the baker doesn’t have to bend down and pick up hot food from the floor level as with most dual oven ranges. The oven controls are all on a smart touch panel and the lower oven has the ability to cook without convection should that be required/desired.

For those who love to cook as well as bake, the range cooking top is very nice and flexible, has 5 burners - two flex sized, two small and one warming. The front are the flex burners with different adjustable settings to accommodate multiple pot sizes - two on the left and three on the right. The left burner is for 10” pans and the right is for 12” pans. However, both burners will heat larger diameter pots and bring water to a boil in a reasonable time, even at high altitude. 

Thanks again for all your help! Lee

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