Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bottom or Top: Which is Hotter?

Dear Tricia, Which part of the oven is hotter? The bottom or the top? My wife says the bottom because it's closer to the heat source but I think the top because heat rises (dur!). My wife is probably right as she is infinitely smart than me (props!) but we wanted to ask an expert.

First of all, its YOU who should be getting props because you just called me an expert, and I'm really just an overly-confident, burnt-out pastry chef who enjoys talking to people like they're stupid on occasion. But that's neither here nor there. Lets get to the meat of the topic: is it hotter on the bottom or the top?
2 things can determine which side is hotter: gas stoves will usually be hotter on top if the gas flame is on the bottom, because yes, heat rises. However, with an electric stove, that's not always the case. In my oven, which is electric, its hotter near the heat source, which is on the bottom. But I've cooked in electric ovens that cooked faster on the top. And unless you have a fancy convection oven that keeps the air rotating evenly around the oven, yours probably has unexplainable hot spots where things cook faster there and they may be somewhere strange, like on the right or left side of the oven. There is no right or wrong answer here: every oven is different. If you want to really to be sure about the hottest part of the oven, it's going to be towards the back, away from the door.
I'm sorry I don't have a better answer for you on this one: even though you can't tell most of them apart, much like Asian children and those people on "The Hills," every oven has its own weird personality that you need to take into consideration before you decide if its a top or a bottom.

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