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I decided to buy an oven thermometer after having a few baking disasters in the kitchen. I'm a good cook normally and couldn't figure out why a few things had gone wrong. After much consideration I decided that the only possible explanation was that the oven temperature was out.
I mentioned it to my mum on a recent visit, and she very kindly bought me this oven thermometer from Lakeland on her next visit. This is quite a big stainless steel thermometer, it's about 3 inches in diameter, it kind of reminds me of a clock. You can position the thermometer in your oven in two different ways, you can either stand it on a shelf in your oven, or you can hang it from an oven shelf using the little hook on the top. Whichever works best for you, I have mine hanging from the top shelf in my oven.
The thermometers temperature range is from 50 to 300 degrees C, and it also has the corresponding farenheit temperature range underneath as well, from 100 to 600 degrees F. I actually think that this is a useful addition as I sometimes find an American recipe that I want to make and the oven temperature will be shown in farenheit, and so just a quick look at my oven thermometer will tell me the corresponding temperature for my oven.
Since using this oven thermometer I've discovered that my oven can be as much as 20 degress cooler than it should be, this doesn't always matter depending what you are cooking, but for cakes and so on it will make a big difference, hence my few disasters! This now enables me to get the correct oven temperature when I'm pre-heating my oven, and I'm happy to say that I've had no baking disasters since.
I just leave this in my oven all the time now, it's easy to clean, I just give it a wipe over with kitchen cleaner and then pop it back in the oven. It's not discoloured or cracked or anything. I've had it for around 4 months now, and I wouldn't hesitate to reccomend this to anyone.
I believe that these are £5.79 in Lakeland.
Our Indesit oven started playing up a few months ago and of course not when we were just cooking for the two of us but when we had people over for lasagne. After two hours it still wasn't hot or cooking and it began to dawn us that we were being led down the path of a costly engineer call out. We knew the problem was the oven thermostat as something similar had occurred a year ago and to have the part replaced cost just shy of £100, at the time my partner was about to be made redundant and was insistent we could survive without the oven if need be, a few weeks later he missed his roast dinner and I was going spare trying to think of creative meals that involved a wok and steamer so after turning it off at the mains he tinkered with it and the temperature improved dramatically but still wasn't right.
I enjoy cooking so it was becoming a real source of frustration that I wasn't able to plan meals properly because whatever was in the oven was either cooking too quickly and leaving the middle cold and the top burnt or too slowly meaning everything else was sat waiting. In the end I resigned myself to it never being sorted. My partner on the other hand being incredibly considerate was trying to find a solution and I came home one evening to be presented with a Lakeland oven thermometer! Now I know its not flowers or diamonds but I was genuinely touched at the thought especially as he rattled off that he had seen "some chef" on Saturday Kitchen explaining how vital they are to many dishes. It was the best £4.88 he has ever spent on me - don't worry he has been made aware that I am happy with this gift but best to steer clear of such presents at Christmas, I can see a dangerous pattern of household items appearing in my stocking each year.
**What does it look like?**
The thermometer is stainless steel with a good sized face that clearly shows the temperature even when the oven is roasting hot. The stainless steel finish makes it easy to clean if some food stuff migrates to it. The temperature ranges from 50º to 300º and goes from blue to red, just in case you get confused about which is hot! The temperature range is more than adequate for most domestic cooking needs. The thermometer is also very light and can just hide away in the oven until its needed.
**How does it work?**
Very simply you have the option to hang it on a shelf or stand it on. I always hang as the slats in my oven trays are quite wide so its not always very sturdy. I put it near the front so I can see the dial clearly through the oven door and not lose heat when looking at it. It normally takes a minute to read the oven and provided your oven is maintaining a constant heat gives highly accurate readings. The pointer is thin and so clearly indicates the temperature to within three degrees. Obviously with it being metal it does get very hot to touch so always move it with oven gloves on.
**Why would I need one?**
I understand that my example is very specific so aside from potentially saving you from an extortionate engineer bill why else would you buy one? Well for the price this is a fantastic piece of kitchen kit, whether you're a regular cook or just fancy a quick pizza when you come in knowing what temperature your oven is at is vital for successful meals and recipes. I imagine it is rare for us to be 100% sure of our oven temperature and end up putting in and hoping for the best however when that garlic bread says 8 minutes at 200 degrees one check of your thermometer and you know that it will be done in 8 minutes, simple and perhaps a little dull but I love it!
For me it has been ideal as I no longer even look at what temperature the dial says it is at, it works but the dial is totally inaccurate and with my trusty thermometer I never need worry that its not going to cook properly. It is also perfect for the pre-heating that is necessary on many ready meals and pizza's, no more soggy pizza base for me.
Its also ideal for the more creative cook, Heston Blumenthal's very famous slow cooked beef requires the oven to be at just 55º (it also involves roasting the meat for 20 hours but the end results are worth it) that level of accuracy can only be achieved with one of these bad boys. In the same vein an avid baker would really benefit from one of these and the world of the perfect soufflé might beckon. Of course the Lakeland name means it should stand the test of time in terms of its quality and after a few months of heavy use mine is unmarked and still looks new.
If you have a cook in your family this could be a good stocking filler and if not buy one for yourself and see the difference it can make to you Christmas turkey! It can be purchased in Lakeland stores and on their website.
This Lakeland oven thermometer has been a life saver for me, you think I am exaggerating, well read on.
A few months ago my niece came complete with her toddler in tow - now this dear little toddler is at that curious stage. Our video recorder was rendered useless after he kindly posted a collection of DVD's through the slot and as I turned around to get my cup of coffee from the breakfast bar those lovely chubby fingers grabbed the cooker knob and twisted it mercilessly until it could stand it no longer !
Of course I smiled ( as I always do!) and just said that there was no harm done, after all toddlers will be toddlers, won't they ?
Now this oven has seen me through thick and thin, I am sure that Hygena have long stopped producing this particular model and much as it is old and very out of date I have always been rather fond of it. Friday is usually baking day and a fruit cake was the order of the day but then the unthinkable happened.
The cake mixture nestled neatly in the cake tin and I put it in at the normal temperature, only to find those little fingers had traumatised the oven and the temperature controls were up the shoot.
I know, I know, this tale is getting long and drawn out now so I am going to come straight to the point. The fruit cake died a death owing to the oven temperature and I needed an immediate solution to what could possibly be an expensive problem.
My purse strings rebelled at the thought of having to shell out for an engineer to come and give me an expensive opinion and if you twiddled with the knob you could roughly gauge the temperature.
So common sense prevailed and I looked on the Internet for an oven thermometer. I was quite surprised to find such an inexpensive thermometer on the Lakeland website so it was ordered post haste.
£4.88 worth of oven thermometer arrived within a day or two , so that pleased me no end.
The thermometer is only three inches in diameter and it is made from stainless steel, at the top of the dial there is a hanging tab which means that you can hang it to an oven shelf or you can just use it as a free standing thermometer, the choice is yours. I prefer to hang mine from the rack, it is very easy to do a temperature check then.
The thermometer has a good temperature range, 50C to 300C /100F to 600F
It is a sturdy little gadget and it is easily wiped over to keep it clean.
I have found the thermometer invaluable, I can turn my oven on and let it heat up and then hang the thermometer inside and let the temperature stabilise. I imagined that the whole process would be really frustrating but it isn't.
Just make sure that you use a tea towel or an oven glove to check the temperature on the hot thermometer.
The dial has both Celsius and Fahrenheit and it is easy to read.
If I win the football pools then I might call the engineer and see if he can restore the oven to its former glory but until I get those 8 draws I am quite content to use my Lakeland thermometer.
I am a fan of Lakeland full stop, they have such a wide range of interesting and good quality products, their website is comprehensive and easy to navigate too.
I like to think I'm more than a bit handy in the cooking/baking department with some of the attributes of the top chef's. The temperment of Gordon Ramsey, the Gary Rhodes like attention to detail of my hair, the figure of Worrall Thompson and the urge to be the Naked Chef in the kitchen with Nigella Lawson and pop a bun or two in her oven.
So, when things started going wrong I wasn't a happy chappy. My first inkling things weren't right was when my mother came for dinner, a nice joint of beef, browned, seasoned to perfection then into the oven for the allotted time, it looked like perfection when removed. All I can say is when it came to slicing it, there's rare, this was extra extra rare. I put this down a one off, blamed the meat for being dodgy.
My next clue came when I baked some chocolate centred cookies for my daughter, she always sells these at school fund raising events. For the first time ever they didn't turn out right, they looked perfect, but were undercooked in the middle. Cheap own brand flour was my excuse this time.
The truth finally hit me when I decided we'd have roast chicken one night, again perfectly prepared and into the oven, when the time came to remove it, it looked perfecto, however I knew yet again I'd managed to undercook something when it jumped out of the oven and ran round the kitchen squawking, stopping only to lay ready boiled eggs.
I knew then my oven was knackered but in the back of my mind was a distant memory of reading somewhere the way to test your oven is make a Victoria sponge mix and bake it on the middle shelf at the correct setting and the finished result will give you a good idea if your oven's, A) level, B) your thermostat's working correctly. The result was, A) my oven's level, B) it's a temperature problem, again it looked cooked but wasn't done in the middle.
A bit of internet research informed me oven thermostats can be tempermental even in new ovens and reccomended always testing your oven with a thermometer, so I went straight out and bought one. It's a nice shiny sturdy chrome one with an easy to read dial, and you can use it in both gas and electric ovens.
I then spent a whole morning testing the oven. Before you start, you need a temperature conversion chart telling you the gas mark equivelant, eg, gas mark4 = 180c, 350f.
A lot of recipe books have these in or you can find it on the internet.
This thermometer measures in both centigrade and faranheit so you get an accurate reading and you can either hang it from a shelf or stand it on one, I did both ways on every shelf so I'd have a pretty accurate idea of how my oven performed. The best way is to start on the lowest setting and work your way up, it saves you alot of time waiting for the oven to drop temp and maybe giving you false readings.
Conclusion: My oven is working approx 2 settings lower than it should, so for a recipe requiring gas 5 I use 7, although I do put the thermometer in every time now and go by that. As they're metal and glass don't forget your gloves or you'll burn your pinkies. These are one of the most useful things you can have in your kitchen, I wonder how many people think they can't bake and it's all because their ovens not hitting the right temperature for the mark.
Ladies, get one bought, you'll know your baking's spot on and if your husband finds fault, inform him all them years of sniffing his socks when removing them has ruined his palate. Plus they're even attractive enough to leave on a shelf and read your room temperature.
This thermometer can be placed on the rack free-standing or hung from the rack. It can be easily read thanks to it's large dial. Heat-resistant to 300°C.