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Kitchen Queries

Welcome to Kitchen Queries, where the nigella.com team will answer your cooking or food related questions.  We’d love you to submit some of your recipe problems, dilemmas or queries for us to get our teeth into!

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Please note, we are only able to answer questions selected for publication and aren't able to enter into personal correspondence.

Latest Queries

  • Switching Ovens

    Due to a recent move, I now have to switch from a convection oven to a non-convection oven. I am so scared that my cakes are not going to rise. Please can you tell me that they will or how can I ensure that they will. It is keeping me awake at night.

    From the nigella team:

    Unfortunately all ovens are slightly different and whenever you have to switch you will always need to have a little "getting to know you" time with the new oven and may need to experiment with a couple of cakes before you get the best results. We would recommend that you buy an oven thermometer and check the oven temperature. Thermometers are fairly inexpensive (usually under £10) and are useful to have to periodically check the oven, as the thermostat or ignition can wear out which will affect the oven's performance and would lead to sagging cakes. Also remember that conventional ovens tend to need to have temperatures set at 20c/50F above the temperature used with your convection oven (ie for most cakes you would set the convection oven at 160c/315F but the conventional one at 180c/350F).

    One of the differences with a conventional oven is that the temperature will not be constant throughout the oven, as it is in a convection oven, and it may also have "hot spots". Cakes should be baked on the centre shelf. It is also worth rotating the cake tins part of the way through the cooking time to help to get even browning. We would suggest that you do this a bit over halfway through the cooking time as before this the cake is not set and could sink.

    Make sure that the oven is properly preheated before the cake is mixed as sometimes conventional ovens can take longer to heat up and if the cake batter is left to stand for too long the raising agents will also wear out and the cake will not rise so well. Finally try to avoid opening the oven door too early or too often as this will let in gusts of cold air which could also inhibit the cake's rising.

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