You’ve followed the recipe to a T, and you have the perfect oven for the dish. Yet your cakes or roasts just aren’t coming out right. Here are three common mistakes home chefs make while cooking with the oven and tips on how to avoid them.

Putting food on the wrong shelf

Positioning matters when it comes to cooking in the oven, especially for foods that require even cooking. The heating elements in an oven are located at the top and bottom, and placing the meal too close to either could result in burning on the end closest to the heat source and undercooking on the other.

If your cakes or pizzas are coming out too brown or burnt on top, place them on a lower shelf to slow the cooking on top. If a pizza crust is crisp but the top is undercooked, move it to a higher level in the oven. Meat that needs to be cooked evenly, like roasts, should typically be cooked in the middle.

Opening the oven door
As tempting as it is to sneak a peek and see how your meal is doing, try not to open the oven door. Opening the oven door lowers temperatures in the oven by at least 25 degrees, and it can take up to 10 minutes for the heat to return to the initial level. This means that your roast needs more time to cook or worse, results in the collapse of that bread loaf or cake you were baking.

Invest in a probe thermometer or a meat probe if you want to keep an eye on your food while cooking. Some of the latest intelligent ovens even come equipped with a heat probe and sensors that can calculate the precise combination of energy consumption, time and cooking level to place your food in order to cook it optimally.

Cutting and serving meat directly after cooking
A nice, juicy steak or roast can be irresistible to the hungry diner, but just wait a few minutes and the taste of the meat will be enhanced considerably.

During cooking, the muscle cells in the meat contracts and its juices boil and get squeezed out. When the meat is taken out of the oven, it is actually still cooking and will continue to do so for a few minutes. A roast can rise another 10 degrees in temperature as it rests. If you start cutting into the meat during this process, the liquids inside will run out, leaving the steak or roast dry. By letting the meat cool a little, its muscle cells will eventually relax and soak up the juices again.

This rule applies equally to all meat, although how long it rests depends on the size of the dish. A small cut like a steak or pork chop requires five minutes, while a whole bird or rack of ribs may need 20 to 30 minutes.

Elizabeth has worked with global household brands with key focus on major home appliances in Vietnam. She can be reached on elizabethpng@yahoo.com.sg

.