The exact temperature of your oven is important, but so is where the heat is located. If heat is uneven in an oven, you could end up with goods that are burnt in some places and still cooking in other places. A thermometer will tell you the temperature, but it won’t tell you where the hot or cold spots are. Luckily you can test your oven with just sugar and a pan to see what you’re dealing with.
- Set your oven rack to the middle (where it would be if you were baking) and crank the heat to 400°F.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle an even layer of granulated sugar onto it. Try using a cup of sugar, which would be enough to cover a 11×17-inch pan with a light dusting.
- Once preheated, place the pan in the center rack of the oven and set a timer for 10 minutes.
- Once the timer goes off, immediately remove the pan from the oven and inspect the sugar.
With this method, you now have a map of your oven’s hot and cold spots. Where the temperature was exactly 400°F, the sugar should be melted without being burnt. Darker, burnt sugar indicate hot spots, while unmelted areas are cool spots. This will help inform where you should be placing goods in your oven.
Source: the Kitchn