Oven bakes unevenly, with top of baked goods overdone before cooked through. Suggestions?

I am temporarily working in Chile, and I am trying to get used to my new kitchen. I have a small oven, but the things I have baked so far have browned very quickly on top, but aren't quite done at the bottom. It might be a convection oven; I can feel air blowing out the top of the door, but I would have thought that would help even out the temperatures.

What is my best bet to try to get more even baking? Lower temperature? Move the rack lower? Only turn on the bottom element?

So far, I've made brownies and banana bread in glass pans and biscuits on a metal sheet pan.

  • Posted by: Angela
  • August 1, 2015
Question image


sonya August 10, 2015
I would try lowering the rack.
drbabs August 2, 2015
Another thing you might try is putting a baking stone (like a pizza stone) or even some bricks in the bottom of your oven. Also check: is your lower burner working?
702551 August 2, 2015
I actually use a pizza stone on the bottom rack of my oven to moderate the heat, even though the thermostat appears to be accurate.

I'm not sure if the original poster is in a position to do this, as she is a temporary resident and she can't even find an oven thermometer, but it is good general advice.

Note: if your pizza stone has a "right" side and "wrong" side like my cheapo consumer stone, flip it so it is upside down. When you want to use it for pizza (or other items) at least you won't have to clean it off.
Garlic F. August 2, 2015
Every time I move, I test the oven with a recipe I know inside and out. And that's my brownie recipe. I make it according to recipe the first time making sure the only thing that is different is the oven and check the brownie as it bakes. I can easily tell what's different about the new oven by how the brownies turn out because I know it so well.

An oven thermometer only works well if your oven isn't totally messed up like the one I have now. There's too many hot spots that even if the thermometer tells me one temp, it is not the same throughout the oven. Let's just say I had to develop brownie-baking maneuvers that involves rotating pan in diff directions, diff times, and adjusting temp during baking. :)

Good luck!
Declan August 1, 2015
All of the above ... But also, are you pre-heating the oven fully. If not, the element on top will be on constant, burning your efforts.
Angela August 2, 2015
I did misunderstand the preheat light the first time, but I've let it get up to temp properly after that.
PieceOfLayerCake August 1, 2015
Always listen to your oven and get to know it....never completely rely on what its telling you. Even recipes may not have a very efficient temperature. Once you understand your oven, you hold that power. If you notice things are baking unevenly, lower the temp so it has a chance to bake through before browning too much. Always check on your food well before the time is up and respond to what's happening. Until I can gauge what my oven is going to do, I check on things frequently. It may feel tedious, but it pays off. You can have someone recalibrate your oven, but that is unnecessary unless its a major issue. I would just keep moving things around until you find what works best. I've seen people test their oven with slices of white bread in a single layer on a sheet pan. You might try that.
Nancy August 1, 2015
In addition to suggestions above:
1) are there co-workers, former tenants, neighbors you could ask about local ovens in general or this oven in particular? With more information, it would be easier to work on solutions and adaptations.
2) Also, separate solution, is there any possibility of acquiring during your temporary stay another more reliable oven, even if it is small like a toaster oven, or stovetop oven contraption, as I know exist in some countries where households commonly have only direct heat and not ovens.
Angela August 2, 2015
Thanks, everyone. I'll just have to get to know this oven. Unfortunately, none of my coworkers are cooks, but I couldn't fathom going 6 months without cooking and baking! It has been a while since I moved, so I guess I forgot just how different ovens can be. I'll try to be patient and put my good science skills to work testing to find the best solution.
702551 August 1, 2015
Ideally, the first thing you should do is find an oven thermometer to see if the thermostat is anything close to accurate, before you put another item in the oven to bake. Many ovens have appallingly poor thermostats.

"Lower temperature? Move the rack lower? Only turn on the bottom element?"

All three of these are potential solutions, try each by itself and see which works best. Rather than cook (and potentially ruin) an entire batch of biscuits (or cookies), I would just try a couple with each method.

Also, there's the option of switch to the bottom burner only about halfway through the baking.

Good luck!
Angela August 2, 2015
I haven't seen any thermometers around, much to my disappointment. I guess I'll just have to keep baking things till I get it right, oh darn.
Recommended by Food52