Cooking with Gas: Learning to cook with your propane oven!

How many of you set out on your maiden voyage and planned a fabulous home-cooked meal the first evening, only to face disaster? Meatloaf that was raw in the middle and black on the bottom, cookies that could double as hockey pucks and rolls you could use to block the wheels are far more common than you think.

If you find cooking in you RV challenging, to say the least, you are not alone, and it may not be your fault. Honest, this may be one time you can indeed blame the oven. But with a few changes in how you use the oven, any competent can become an excellent RV baker as well.

Understanding your RV oven

Many users blame their baking failures on the fact that their RV oven is powered by propane. Although it is true that propane does heat and cook differently than your home electric range, there are plenty cooks who prefer gas for their home ranges. The real problem with your RV oven is the design.

While your home oven usually has two heating elements, on top and bottom, you RV oven has only one element. More importantly, the element in your RV unit is in the middle of the bottom shelf; whereas your home oven elements extend the entire width. This means your RV oven produces less heat and that heat is not distributed evenly.

The second problem with your RV oven is the size- it is obviously smaller than what you have at home. This means some of your bakeware will not fit, recipes may need to be adjusted and cook time may vary.

The good news is each of these problems can be quickly overcome with a few tricks and some practice. Before long you will be turning out gourmet meals that will have friends and family waiting in line for the next treat.

Heat Things Up

The first thing you need to know is whether or not your oven’s temperature is correct. Place an oven-proof thermometer in the cooking area, turn the oven on and see if the oven setting matches the actual temperature. It is not uncommon for there to be a 10 or 15-degree difference. If your unit allows for manual adjustment no problem, otherwise note the difference and adjust cooking temperatures accordingly.

Next, you need to improve the heat distribution, which is pretty simple. By placing a baking or pizza stone in the bottom of the oven, you will help the heat radiate more evenly. If you do not have a baking stone, you may also use unglazed tiles available at any home improvement store.

Finally, you need to adjust the wire rack. This will take some practice, and probably some less than perfect meals, but eventually, you will find that sweet spot where the heat is best. Once you have identified this setting use it whenever possible.

Downsizing

Because your oven is smaller than those you are accustomed to you will need to make some adjustments in how you cook.

First, it is very important that you preheat the oven completely before using it. Since most RV ovens do not come equipped with a temperature alarm you oven thermometer will come in handy again.

Second, because you are using smaller bakeware, you may need to adjust the cook times accordingly. Even if your smaller but deeper pan holds the entire recipe the changes in dimensions will impact cook times. Some recipes will offer advice for baking in different size containers, and there are plenty of quality RV cookbooks that can help make similar conversions.

Third, remember to rotate your meal as it cooks. Even with stone lining the oven there will continue to be hot and cold spots. The easiest way to overcome this problem is to rotate your meal as it cooks to ensure evenly.

So there you have it, simple and easy tips to get great meals from your RV’s propane oven. If you want more tips to improve your on the road menu check out this Youtube video.

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