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PHYSICS 101 - Where is the heat hottest on a full-size sheet pan?

I frequently roast vegetables for dinner on a large rectangular sheet pan. Often I mix different sized veggies on the same pan, or cook ones with differing densities within the same vegetable (stalks of broccolini say, with the little florets atop a comparatively thick stalk). It works out fine, but I wonder whether I can fine-tune it and if one part of the pan is hotter than another I would put the thicker veggies or stalks in that spot (center? edges of the pan?). Weird question, but having just arranged a bunch of broccolini with the florets all pointing toward the edge and stalks to the center, I got to thinking... Happy V Day, all.

asked by calendargirl almost 6 years ago

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5 answers 4611 views
1f596ae9 f36c 4022 8b52 0c8583fd70b0  meg b f52
added almost 6 years ago

Good question! I have always noticed that the outer three inches on my pan are hottest (get the most caramelization) and the center is the coolest. Now I'm a scientist turned lawyer so this isn't gospel but I'd imagine the outer portions are hotter because they have the most contact with the hot air and the center takes the longest to heat through because of the mass of the outer edges that heat must travel through first.

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23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added almost 5 years ago

What if the oven heats the pan evenly?

2b00435b fe24 44bb afe2 ad3364f28f79  1390710 10151917400148928 1193325941 n 1
added almost 6 years ago

This question depends on your oven, not the pan. To test wear you have hot spots, ATK has a great method. Take many slices of white bread and line your sheet pan with them. Move the rack to the highest position and set oven to a broil. Check back in 30 seconds to a minute and see which pieces are brown, browner, brownest. The brownest pieces indicate the hottest spots.

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1097a5b5 1775 4eec a8ea 7421137b65dc  image 2 apples claire sullivan 2
amysarah

amysarah is a trusted home cook.

added almost 6 years ago

No particular scientific theory, but I've also always noticed that things baked near a pan's perimeter cook faster (caramelize quicker) than those at the center. This goes not just for vegetables, but cookies, etc. and has been true over many years, using several different ovens.

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4f98639e b8b3 42cd 9b01 ec8a503c5fdd  2010 09 15 14.22.07
added almost 6 years ago

Thank you, everyone! Arranging vegetables on a sheet pan will never be the same. Love FOOD52!

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