Tips for Baking in an RV Oven
RV ovens are a problem. Even if you're an experienced baker, if you're accustomed to a household oven, you're likely to burn your food in an RV oven.
Fortunately, with just a few tricks, you can get fantastic results in your RV oven.
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The Problem with RV Ovens
RV ovens need to be small and lightweight. That means:
1. There isn't a lot of room around the food for air circulation, so the oven can develop cold and hot spots
2. There's very little thermal mass, so the heat can vary wildly as the thermostat cycles the burner high and low
3. The burner ends up so close to the food that it's practically impossible to cook something through without burning it on the bottom
The RV Oven Solution
Your RV oven is not hopeless, it just needs a little help.
Get a baking stone that fits your RV oven, place it directly on top of the wire oven rack. Most RV advice suggests placing the stone on the platform just above the burner, but that's not the best place. You need air space between the burner and the stone to allow the stone to heat evenly. The further the stone is from the burner, the better the stone will do its job.
This pizza stone fits perfectly in our Atwood RV range, and should fit nicely in other standard size RV ovens as well. There's no need to take it out, even when you're traveling—it's perfectly safe riding on the oven rack, and it's less likely to break if you rarely handle it.
The pizza stone moderates the heat coming off your burner, which will help dissipate the hot spot directly above the burner. It will also add some thermal mass to your oven, so the temperature won't swing as wildly when the burner cycles high and low. The result is more even cooking in your RV oven.
The pizza stone will get HOT. That's a good thing for food that need to sear like pizza, meat, or roasted vegetables, but it can be a big problem for food that needs to cook evenly like cookies or biscuits.
For foods you don't want exposed directly to the heat of the stone, cook on two stacked quarter sheet pans, rather than a single baking sheet. A stack of two sheet pans gives you some air space in the middle, which will insulate the bottom of your food from direct heat from the pizza stone. An insulated cookie sheet does the same thing, but a set of two quarter sheet pans are more versatile than one insulated cookie sheet. You'll have perfectly cooked biscuits and cookies every time.
More Small Oven Tips
Even with a pizza stone on the rack, your oven will still have hot and cold spots. To help your food cook evenly, turn the pan 180 degrees halfway through cooking. That'll ensure every part of your food gets an even dose of heat. If the top of your food isn't looking golden brown like it should, rotate the pan under the broiler for a few minutes.
Temperature is everything, and the cheap thermostat in your RV oven is lying to you. Hitting the perfect "done" temperature can be the difference between a fantastic home-cooked meal and barely edible food. A good instant-read thermometer is indispensable in the kitchen, and an analog oven thermometer is nice, but you have to open the oven to use either of these. For baking, a double-probe grill thermometer is best. Place one probe in the center of the food to know when it's done, and clip the other somewhere convenient to get an accurate picture of how hot your oven really is.
Every time you open your small oven, you throw the temperature off, which causes slow, uneven cooking. If you know when your food is perfectly done without opening the door, it'll cook faster and more evenly.
Finally, invest in a silpat. If you're baking something that might stick to the pan like bread or roasted vegetables, your silpat will ensure your food slides off effortlessly. You can get one that perfectly fits in a quarter sheet pan, or you can cut a larger one down to size. It's dishwasher safe, and nothing will stick to it, so it makes cleanup much easier. And unlike parchment paper, you can wash and reuse a silpat indefinitely.
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