Can I Bake a Cake in a Convection Oven?

Joy asks: I just started to bake. I tried baking vanilla and chocolate cake, but I am not satisfied with the result. It is a little moist but dense and heavy. One more thing, I am using my DeLonghi convection/roteserie oven. Can I bake a cake in that kind of oven? Please help!

Baking S.O.S. says: Baking in a convection oven is different than baking in a traditional (called “conventional”) oven.  Convection ovens bake approximately 25 degrees hotter than a conventional oven.  Convection ovens also use a fan to blow the hot air in the oven so that is circulates all around the product, making it bake faster and brown more easily.

Convection ovens are good for things like cookies and pies, but the blowing fan is not so good for cakes.  Cake batter is typically lighter and fluffier, and the moving air can affect the cake batter by bursting the air bubbles in the batter, causing the cake to fall and become dense in texture.  So I would not recommend baking cakes in a convection oven unless you simply do not have any other option.

For future reference, when baking in a convection oven, you need to turn the oven temp down by 25 degrees less than what the recipe calls for to adjust for the hotter, faster baking process.  This may help your cakes somewhat, but I would still recommend using a conventional oven for cakes whenever possible.

Best of luck to you in your new baking adventures!  If all else fails, keep trying different recipes until you find a cake recipe that you like.  Not all recipes are created equal, so it takes a lot of experimentation (trying different recipes) before you find the ones you prefer.

Joy says: Thank you for the tips and lessons…you are so nice! Can I ask you again in the future when I encounter a problem in baking?

Baking S.O.S.: Absolutely! Feel free to ask any time–that’s why Baking S.O.S. is here–to help you in the kitchen!

26 comments to Can I Bake a Cake in a Convection Oven?

  • Priti

    Hi, This answers my problem too as all the cakes that I attempted to bake using the convection turned out to be real bad. However, the books are flooded with recipes requiring the pre-heated oven. Can I use mix ingredients as per these recipes and bake in a microwave instead?

  • Hi Priti- Do you have a conventional oven? Or can you turn the convection feature OFF on your oven? If so, I would recommend baking cakes in a conventional oven (non-convection). I have never tried to bake a cake in a microwave, but my experience with other microwaved dessert recipes is that the microwave simply does not produce desirable results for baked goods. I would not recommend trying to bake a cake in the microwave because the way microwaves heat food simply is not effective for baking.

  • Sonian

    If i want to bake good cake,which remain moist,soft, not dense and hard…does that means that i should choose conventional oven?but i heard many people say that conventional oven’s fire is not even, i will need to always turn the tray around or up and down, is there any solution to this? and i am just a new beginner, i plan to buy 40L electric oven,and hope to go cheap,may i know what brand and type of the oven will you recommend?

  • Dear Chef RB,

    May I ask you if you have tried baking cakes using a charcoal based oven i.e COBB oven as in the website: http://www.cobbglobal.com ?

    In today’s rising LPG and electricty charges and bills, I think some people may consider baking using charcoal based ovens like COBB.

    Will the taste be any different from those baked in conventional baking ovens? Thank you.

    regards,

    George Lim
    Singapore

  • Hi Sonian, I think you are talking about 2 different questions here: One is the type of heat source: gas vs. electric, and the other is the baking method: conventional oven vs. convection oven. You are correct in that a conventional oven is better for baking cakes, but a conventional oven can be either gas or electric. A conventional oven is preferable over a convection oven for baking cakes because a convection oven uses a fan to blow air around the oven, keeping the baking temperature and heat more even. Although even heating is desirable for baking, the blower of the fan is not good for baking cakes because it can cause the tender structure of a cake to fall, making it heavy and dense. So I do prefer a conventional oven for baking cakes.

    As far as choosing between electric or gas ovens, I am leery to advise you on that because I can only speak from my own personal experience. Research and recommendations would indicate that electric heat is better for baking than gas heat. However, in a home setting, I have baked in a number of different gas and electric ovens, and I have always preferred the gas ovens over the electric, regardless of the brand. My experience has been that electric ovens actually bake more unevenly than gas ovens for whatever reason.

    Neither type of heat source–electric or gas–bakes perfectly, so I always practice what you suggested: rotating the trays around and switching them from the top shelf to the bottom and vice versa so that the trays can get more even exposure to the heat source. It’s a good “fail safe” method to ensure more even baking. Good luck!

  • Hi George, Thank you for this interesting question. I have not heard of the COBB or other charcoal-based ovens, so I spent some time exploring the site you shared. Unfortunately, the COBB site has no recipes and very little information on how to bake in a COBB oven, so I do not feel comfortable giving an opinion on this as an alternate option for energy-efficient baking.

    In answer to your question about whether it might affect the taste of a baked good as compared to using a conventional oven, I can only guess that the taste would be different when using charcoal for baking because it tends to create a smoky flavor–at least on typical charcoal grills or fires. I do not know if the charcoal oven produces less smoke, but I assume it would still impart some smoky flavor to the finished baked good.

    If you try it, please let me know what you think. I’m curious to know, too!

  • Ruth

    I just went to Sears to buy a new oven for baking cakes. I explained this to the sales person and they said then the one I needed to buy was a convection oven. Now I just read where you said not to use that. I paid a lot for a Kemore oven and I think the sales lady was totally wrong steering me in that direction . She even went as far as to say it would be much better for baking my cakes.

  • Hi there, I have a Sears Kenmore gas range, and I love it. But I bought it only after I had invested in a new electric convection oven, thinking that electric and convection are supposed to be better for baking. I struggled with that convection oven for 4 or 5 years before I finally gave up and got rid of it. And that is when I switched back to gas and a conventional oven, which produces excellent baking results for me personally.

    My question for you is this: Does the oven have the option to switch back and forth between convection and conventional baking? (I assume so, but I just want to check to be sure.) If so, then you can experiment with using the convection setting vs. conventional (which is simply baking without convection circulating the air around). Convection heat can produce very nice results for some types of baked goods, I just wouldn’t recommend it for cakes. Convection heat bakes faster and hotter, giving baked goods a nice brown caramelized crust. For cakes, we want to bake them slower so they can bake all the way throughout without getting dry or browned on the outside before they are done on the inside.

    In short, the Kenmore oven might work just fine for your baking needs, but I would recommend baking cakes without the convection setting–as long as the oven comes with that option.

  • pam

    Hi,

    I’ve been reading a lot of threads now and it’s getting me confused.
    I’m thinking of baking cupcakes and cakes soon but I cannot decide on what type of oven should I need.

    Is convection oven good enough? Or for cakes should I just stick with the conventional one?

    One more thing, are “classic” gas ranges equipped with ovens where I can bake cake and cupcakes? Can I bake cakes in the broiler with convection setting provided that I cover the fan with what I have read from other threads? Is this true?

    Thank you for taking time to answer! Hope to hear from you guys soon. Thanks.

  • Hi there,

    My preference for baking cakes is a traditional conventional oven.

    The fan of convection ovens can be too strong for cake batters, and the disturbance could cause some cakes to fall. Less movement in the oven is better for fragile items like cakes.

    A “classic gas range” should come with a conventional oven, I assume. From what I understand, a “range” has a stovetop and an oven.

    As far as baking cakes in the broiler, I learned the hard way–a very long time ago before I ever went to cooking school!–that you absolutely cannot make a cake on the broiler setting! Now that I understand how broilers work, it makes perfect sense: A broiler provides heat from the top only. An oven provides heat all the way around. So baking a cake in the oven will distribute heat all the way around the cake, eventually baking it all the way through. A broiler could only bake a cake from the top down, and that is completely ineffective for baked goods. Save the broiler for things like fish and tuna melts. :)

  • Vandana (India)

    Hi Chef

    I am a beginner! I have tried to bake cakes in the convection oven 5 times now. Although the results kept improving each time, I find the cake to be a bit dry than what it would have been in a conventional oven. Would you recommend adding little water or milk to moist the cake as it cooks? I am surely going to try cooking it for lesser time at a 25 degree lesser temperature as suggested to Joy.

  • Gloria

    What do i do to a cake that is almost cooked but my pan has no space to allow it rise?

  • Hi there, the simple answer is to fill the cake pan less full with batter. The standard “rule of thumb” when baking cakes is to fill the cake pan no more than 2/3 full of batter to allow room for the cake to rise while baking. If you have more batter than that, simply put the extra into another pan. If it is only a small amount of extra batter, you can bake it in a cupcake pan.

  • Parvin

    Hi Chef,

    Please help…I love baking but there is always something wrong with my cakes….I’ve recently got myself an Elba EMO-3405 Microwave Oven with convection feature and i’m really hoping that I can bake cakes with it OR CAN I? The features of this oven:-
    Microwave Output Power: 1500W
    Grill Power: 1250W
    Convection Power: 2050W
    Capacity: 34 Litres
    Defrost Setting
    Cooking End Signal
    10 Microwave Power Levels
    Pull Handle Door
    Dimension (cm): 60.5 (H) x 52.5 (L) x 36.5 (W)
    Gross Weight: 21.2 kg
    The online manual is at: http://www.elba.com.my/manual/EMO-3405%20-%20New.pdf

    Chef, can i bake with this oven…and what would be the appropriate temp in Celcius for baking. Please help. Waiting in serious anticipation for your reply. Thank you.

  • Hi there,

    I wish I could answer your question, but unfortunately, I am not an expert on appliances. I think your best bet is to contact the manufacturer of your microwave/convection oven. The manufacturer would know best whether the appliance is designed to bake cakes, and they should also be able to give you a conversion temperature for Celcius baking. Good luck!

  • You can bake most cakes successfully in a convection oven but reduce the temp 25 degrees which in most cases would be 325 and bake for less time. I find that the reason most people’s cakes are dry is overcooking.

  • gummybear

    when you said lower temperature by 25 degrees, as in in Fahrenheit or Celsius? or does it apply to both? because im using Celsius

  • Hi there, the 25 degree rule applies to Fahrenheit temperatures. I’m not certain what the adjustment would be for a Celsius recipe. But in doing a quick search of the Internet, I found this helpful oven temperature conversion chart at allfoodbusiness.com.

    It looks like for every 25 degree change in the Fahrenheit scale, there is a corresponding 10 degree change in the Celsius scale. So you would want to decrease your Celsius oven temperature by 10 degrees if you are converting a recipe from conventional baking to convection baking.

  • donna

    I made the best cupakes in the world a few weeks ago and I’m making them again today for thanksgiving dessert. I used the convection oven instead of the conventional oven. Set the temp 25 degrees less than the recipe calls for…..also adjust the bakingtime It’s trial and error, I cut 25% off the baking time as well, after checking the cupcakes I decided to add 3 minutes more of baking time. They were wonderful and moist.

  • Hi Donna, Thanks for sharing your experience. What I have found is that home convection ovens behave differently than professional convection ovens, and you are absolutely right: it’s all trial and error. I hope your cupcakes turned out delicious for the second time and that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration!

  • cris

    Hi! I am interested to buy a convection oven due to to its multi tasking capability. But then base on reviews above, it is not best for cake making which I initially want to try. May I ask if Convection Oven is okay for baking lasagna?

  • Hi Cris, Sure! The advantage to using a convection oven for baking is that it bakes hotter and faster, using less energy. It should work fine for lasagna, casseroles, etc. Convention is also nice for cookies, muffins, biscuits, pies, etc. You can still purchase the convection oven, but for delicate items such a cakes, simply turn the convection feature off and use the oven as a standard conventional oven.

  • Ernesto

    Hi Chef.

    We have a Gas Range with oven in it. But it hasnt been used for 3 years even once coz back then no one knows how to bake or use it, but now I know how to bake I learned at my culinary class at school. Now my problem is I dont how to use our Oven and we think it might not work coz like I said it hasnt been used for 3 years. And my mom and I discussed that we should call the service repair to fix the oven. Then I read this thread that convection oven can bake cake. And now im confused coz my mom also suggested to buy the convection oven. Now my question is should we go for the convection oven or should we just call the service repair and ask them to fix our oven and instruct us to use it? I always bake cake at my culinary class especially cheesecakes. And I want to bake at home especially this holiday season.

    Sorry for my very long story. I hope your answer helps me. Thanks! :D

  • Hi Ernesto, Convection ovens are actually NOT good for baking cakes. I do not recommend baking cakes in convection ovens because the fans blowing cause too much movement, which can, in turn, cause the cake to fall.

    Convection ovens are also not good for baking cheesecakes. Cheesecake should be baked at a low temperature for a long time to keep them from cracking or browning on top. Convection baking would do the opposite: bake much hotter and faster, which causes baked goods to brown.

    In my experience, I have not found convection ovens for home use to work very well at all. I have used a number of different brands of home convection ovens, and I do not like the way any of them work. [Although professional convection ovens in commercial kitchens work beautifully.]

    Therefore, I would recommend that you hire a repair person to fix your existing oven, rather than purchasing a convection oven. It will probably cost less money, and it may even be under warranty if your range is only 3 years old. You will get better results if you bake in a conventional oven.

    I hope that helps!

  • luke

    I experienced the problem of bursting the air bubbles in the batter, causing the cake to fall and become dense in texture. Is there anyway this can be remedied by raising the height of the fan so that air does not burst the batter. I only have convection oven. Thanks Luke

  • Hi Luke, this is a tricky problem. In my experience, I have only seen home ovens that have the option of baking on a conventional setting or choosing the convection setting. Only in professional kitchens have I seen ovens that just bake convection only. And in a professional setting, I never bake cakes in those convection ovens.

    To my knowledge, there is no way to adjust the settings on a convection oven so that the fans don’t blow as much. The only thing you might be able to do is add a little extra baking powder to your cake to force it to rise higher, perhaps, so it won’t collapse quite as much. But then that may cause a different problem: too much baking powder can leave a metallic taste in your cake. Perhaps your best solution is to find a friend or neighbor who is willing to let you bake a cake in their conventional oven in exchange for a piece of the cake. :)

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