If your cakes and bakes emerge from the oven looking nothing like potential show-stoppers, it could be your oven – rather than you – that is to blame.
Even in 2016, plenty of ovens still struggle to stick to the correct temperature during cooking. Some will never quite warm up to the heat you set them for, while others will overshoot it wildly.
Our most recent tests uncovered several models that overheated by 20°C or more, plus one that reached a furnace-like 222°C when set at just 180°C.
To see which built-in ovens heat quickly and stick to the correct temperature, ensuring that your favourite recipes turn out the way you expected, head to our built-in oven reviews.
Oven temperature: why it matters
As any baker will tell you, baking is a complex and delicate science, so an oven that is too hot or too cool can alter the cooking processes that take place and throw off the end result.
We baked four identical Victoria sponges at different temperatures to see how much impact a dodgy temperature control could have on your cooking.
We baked one cake at the correct temperature, and the others at temperatures either higher or lower than recommended. And the results showed that an inaccurate oven could seriously hamper your baking attempts.
You can see the full results – including pictures of all the cakes we baked – on our page showing the effect of oven temperature on baking.
How an inaccurate oven affects your cooking
When we inflicted the wrong cooking temperatures on our Victoria sponges, the impact on looks and texture was clear to see.
At 20°C above the recommended temperature, we saw cracking on the sponge surface, an uneven rise and a harder texture near the base, indicating over-baking
Things got much worse when we cranked up the temperature to 40°C above the ideal. The cake was shriveled and burnt around the edges, with a domed middle and cracked surface.
At 20°C below the right temperature, our cake emerged dense, sunken and pale. At the correct temperature, it was well risen with a lovely golden colour.
If you think an inaccurate oven might be hindering your success in the kitchen, make sure you pick your next one from our selection of the best built-in ovens.
Finding the best oven
You don’t have to spend a lot to get an accurate oven. In fact, we’ve found some pricey models that fail to get the basics of temperature control right.
Our most recent 2016 tests include a selection of cheaper models from brands such as Beko, Bosch and Zanussi, as well as some of the latest premium Neff ovens – a brand favoured in the Great British Bake Off tent.
Below is a selection of our most recent 2016 oven reviews. You can click on the links to see how each one fared, or head straight to our built-in oven reviews to compare all the latest models.
Cheap single ovens
Cheap double ovens
Ovens with premium features
Prices checked in October 2016.