Nugget of Knowledge: Ideal oven temperature

Before thermostats, bakers used a trick to test the oven temperature

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Did you ever notice that when you’re getting ready to bake something in an oven — muffins, fish sticks, almost anything — the directions will read first heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Why 350?

A chemist named Louis Maillard in 1912 discovered what happens to foods when you cook it at around 300 to 350 degrees.

It’s almost a magical number. In fact, science calls it the Maillard Reaction — it’s what browns your meat and brings out the flavor.

By 350 degrees, the heat actually transforms the proteins and sugars in food. We get new flavors, new aromas and new colors.

It doesn’t mean that we should cook everything at 350 degrees.

It’s a baseline. Most bread will need higher temperatures to rise quickly, and puff pastries do better in the 400-degree range.

But for many recipes, 350 degrees is the golden number.

What did we do before we had oven temperature dials?

Bakers would they would toss flour dust on the floor of the oven. When the flour turned black without flaming, the oven was ready.

Another method: Hold an arm inside the oven. If they could stand it for more than 30 seconds, it wasn’t hot enough yet.

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