Most recipes say to preheat the oven. Is this really necessary? It is easy to waste energy on preheating when you think you’re supposed to do it… and especially if you have guests over for the holidays and you lose track of time while chatting. It is NOT necessary in all cooking.
For baked goods such as biscuits, cookies, pastries or cakes you should preheat because these items can easily turn out poorly if you don’t. These need to be cooked all the way through. If your oven starts out cold, you’ll run into issues with leavening and cooking properly. Think about it: these are typically baked at high temperatures for a short period of time.
For most other items though, you don’t need to. This is especially true for large items that cook for a long time such as turkey or ham. Keep in mind that without preheating you cook your food at a lower temperature as your oven heats up for the first few minutes, so you may have to bake slightly longer.
Gas ovens—especially older versions– heat very quickly. However, the temperature inside the oven can fluctuate quite a bit and the heating is often less even. Gas ovens are typically more humid than electric or convection ovens because the combustion of the gas releases moisture into the air of the oven. This can lead to issues with browning and crisping baked goods. You can battle the hot spots by rotating your trays at least once while cooking. If you’re baking on several trays, swap the top and bottom trays as well.
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