Gas heat is a favourite of professional cooks because it is fast and hot. When baking at home, however, it can be uneven and temperatures can be less than precise. Every oven is different, and it can take time to get used to the quirks of your gas oven. There are some tips, though, that will help you even out the heat and get more successful results every time.
Since the heat is dependent on gas, the temperature accuracy depends on the delivery of the gas. Many incidents can happen to make this inaccurate, and even a new oven can be off the temperature mark. A good oven thermometer, placed on the centre rack of the oven will help you be sure that your temperature is correct.
One problem with gas ovens is that the heat can be too intense on the bottom, burning the bottom of cakes, cookies and other baked goods. One way to deal with this is to use insulated baking trays and pans. Silpat sheets will also work. The disadvantage is that the bottoms do not brown at all.
Uneven heating can be a problem in a gas oven, especially an older one. Cleaning the oven can help if the burner flame holes are clogged with fallen food or grease. A good solution to the problem of uneven heating and burnt bottoms is to place a pizza stone or a layer of ordinary unglazed clay tiles on the bottom rack of the oven. You can find these tiles at your local home improvement centre or hardware store. Leave some room at the sides to allow for air circulation, but cover the area below the food with the tiles.
Allow the oven to preheat long enough to heat the tiles. During baking, the gas will heat the clay, which will release heat evenly into the oven, maintaining a more even heat. The tiles will create a buffer between the burner and the baking food items, preventing burnt bottoms and lopsided baking.
Use the Baking Setting
After preheating your oven, be sure to change the setting to "bake." Newer gas ovens provide heat from the top and bottom on the preheat setting to quickly heat the oven. On the bake setting, heat should rise from the bottom of the oven only.
Forced Air and Humidity
If your gas oven has a fan for air circulation, use the fan and bake at a slightly lower temperature. The improved air circulation will help foods bake more evenly and faster, even at a lower temperature.
Gas ovens are more humid than their electric counterparts because of moisture released when the gas burns. This can cause differences in baking, especially for items that need a dry heat to make a crust. Expect that bread may not develop an ideal crust in a gas oven; this is normal. Using the fan can help keep your crust dry and crisp.