Ever wonder why recipes specify that you bake your item on the top, bottom or middle rack?
Most items bake evenly in the middle of the oven.
When it’s important to brown the bottom of the food—like a fruit pie where the crust can get soggy—the lower rack is required. It puts the pan or baking sheet closer to the heat source, on the bottom of the oven.
Conversely, if you want more browning on the top—a meringue topping, for example—place the pan on the top rack. The meringue will brown without heating the fruit curd underneath.
If you want to bake two cake pans at once, advises Lauren Chattman, author of The Baking Answer Book, two nine-inch pans can be placed side by side. But for even baking, you’ll need to rotate them after the cakes begin to set.
With cookie sheets, you can place one on the bottom and one on the top, rotating them midway. Advises Lauren, “I recommend this only for items like cookies that require a relatively short baking time. With longer-baking items, the risk of burning is greater and not worth the savings on time.”
A meringue-topped pie needs to be baked on
the top rack of the oven. H.D. Connelly | Dreamstime.
These directions don’t apply to convection ovens, which have an even circulation of air that avoids hot spots and cold spots of traditional ovens.
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