Oven Thermometers

As a cookbook reviewer, I sometimes have to measure where it would usually be perfectly fine to guess.  I don’t always like having to measure 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, but I do it…I’ve got 5 sizes of measuring cups, a couple of instant-read thermometers, and a scale that gets regular use.  But the tool that makes me hands-down-flat craziest is the oven thermometer.

The numbered knob on your oven is only the vaguest of guides (not to mention you lose 10 degrees F for every second you open your oven door).  So if you want to follow a recipe with any real guarantee of fidelity, you need a separate oven thermometer.   If you use your oven a lot, those little dial thermometers that hang down from an oven rack are guaranteed to fail–they fall down, the faces melt, the pointer detaches, they get covered with rust and grease and become unreadable.

So I switched to a Maverick digital probe thermometer with a steel cable connected to a sensor in the oven–the read-out unit sticks magnetically to the side of the oven.  At first I loved it, but in three years I went through three, all of which failed in different ways. The last one gave wildly erratic readings, prompting me to frantically dial up and down, carbonizing some dishes and leaving others half-raw.

Finding a thermometer that measures ambient oven temperature (as opposed to the temperature inside, say, a roast) is tricky, but at last I found one–a CDN “dual-sensing probe” thermometer–that did both.  I hung it side by side with my last, psycho thermometer and watched in awe as the temperatures diverged by 50, 60, 70 degrees and more.  But I stuck with the new readings, and my baked goods came out perfect.

So it’s love….at least for now.  Got a thermometer you love?  hate?  or do you have that rarest of beasts, the perfectly calibrated oven?

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