A convection oven is sometimes referred to as a European or third element convection oven because they were first used in Europe and have a third heating element in addition to the two that are present in a conventional oven and used for baking and broiling. Although used primarily in institutional and commercial settings, convection ovens are becoming more popular with homeowners. Nearly 25% of all new ovens sold today are convection ovens
Circulation of Hot Air in Convection Ovens
A convection oven uses a fan to circulate hot air into and around the inside of the oven. This method of heating allows food to cook more evenly at lower temperatures and in less time. Conventional ovens use what is called radiant or thermal heat and heat is not distributed evenly resulting in uneven cooking. Some ovens may be labeled convection ovens because they have fans that blow hot air around inside the oven, but are not true convection ovens in that the third heating element is not present.
Features of Convection Ovens
A convection oven offers the choice between convection baking and roasting or conventional baking and roasting. Buying a convection oven is similar to buying a conventional oven. Features to look for include the following:
- Self-cleaning or standard cleaning (by hand)
- A high or low broil option
- Oven light
- Viewing window
- Interior size
- Electronic digital controls and settings
- A long multi-loop baking element
- A bake element located beneath the oven floor.
Advantages of Convection Ovens
Professional chefs and gourmet cooks are fond of convection ovens for many reasons including the fact that foods are cooked more evenly, especially in larger quantities. One example of how well convection ovens work is in the baking of several trays of cookies. When using a conventional oven, the heat emanating from the source (electric coil or gas pilot) makes it is difficult to bake three batches of cookies in the oven at once and have them turn out the same way. Typically the rack closest to the heat source is overdone and the one farthest away (in this case those on the middle rack) is underdone. The opposite is true for a convection oven and there is no single place that is hotter than another. Therefore, several batches of cookies can be cooked at the same time all with the same degree of perfection. In addition, because the hot air is continuously circulating, cooking time is sped up by approximately 25%.