5 Tips that Will Make Baking in Your RV a Breeze
One of the best aspects of the RV lifestyle is that you can actually prepare meals in a real kitchen even while living on the go. You can eat healthily, save money, and make your meals just the way you like them. Grilling out, electric roasting, and crockpot cooking are all extremely popular methods of food prep employed by your average RV chef, but the real challenge for many who live the RV life full time is mastering baking.
Generally speaking, you are working with ovens of smaller dimensions that heat using propane and have a centrally located heating element at the top. Baking in an RV oven can take quite a bit of finagling to really get it right, and that can result in eating or throwing out some rather “interesting” mistakes. That being said, there are some techniques you can use to save you from a lengthy trial-and-error process. Here are 5 tips for ensuring baking in your RV is a breeze:
1. Try a Heat Stone
Part of what makes RV baking such a challenge is the significantly reduced height of the oven. Shorter oven spaces mean that the bottom of what you are baking tends to burn due to the uneven heat distribution. The best way to fix this is to put an oven heat stone on the bottom of your oven to distribute heat more efficiently and evenly when you are baking. The only caveat to this process is that you need to ensure you don’t inadvertently cover the ventilation holes on the sides.
2. Pop an Oven-Safe Thermometer in There
Believe it or not, the built-in thermostat on RV ovens isn’t 100% accurate. You can set it to 350 degrees, but it may only heat the oven up to 340 degrees or less. How do you know if you are actually getting an accurate temperature? Stick an oven-safe thermometer on the rack and check! These handy little gadgets are designed to stand the heat and display the actual internal temperature of your oven without needing to open it up. Once you know what the actual temperature is compared to what setting you’ve chosen, you can adjust your temperature accordingly.
3. Always Preheat
While it may take up to 15 minutes for your oven to get up to temperature, it is an extremely important step in baking various dishes properly without under or over-cooking them. Pre-heating is also where the oven-safe thermometer comes in handy, as you can easily check to see that the oven has reached the appropriate preheat temperature. If you opt not to preheat, you may find that your bake-for-20-minute brownies take a great deal longer to bake than 20 minutes.
4. Rotating Your Baking Dishes Makes a Difference
If your baked goods are going to cook evenly, you will need to keep rotating the baking dish every so often to ensure it cooks through without any raw spots. At a minimum, a 180-degree turn halfway through your bake time is critical to ensuring a perfect bake every time. Try to keep cooking time between front, back, left, and right as even as you can. That means if you are baking brownies for 20 minutes, they need to be rotated about 90 degrees every 5 minutes. Quick turns throughout baking are very important if you want to keep your baked dish at the same consistency all the way through, especially if you don’t have a heat stone in the bottom of your oven.
5. Follow High Altitude Directions When Baking at Elevation
The altitude at which you are baking matters a great deal for RV chefs making baked goods. Your kitchen is mobile, and you may be camped out for a week or so at high elevation. The problem is that at elevations above 3,000 feet, baked goods mix and bake differently than at sea level. Cake faces fall more easily, batters tend to overflow in the baking pan, and bread rises much faster. The reason for this severe shift in how your baking mixes react to cooking and mixing is due to the lower air pressure at altitudes greater than 3,000 feet.
With lower air pressure, evaporation occurs more rapidly, so baked goods dry out and stick faster, sugar becomes more concentrated in mixtures, and many cake batters won’t set without drying and crumbling. Most premixed baked goods have high altitude directions on the box, but if you are working from an old family recipe you may need to make some changes. Adjusting the amount of sugar or oil/butter/fat, eggs and flour, and the amount of yeast can help compensate for the change in air pressure at elevation, but you may need to test out these changes first. Experiment carefully and only make one or two adjustments to the recipe at a time to ensure you don’t alter the finished product too much. There are numerous sites online that have tips for high elevation baking, and if you intend to camp out in the high mountains frequently you should probably research high elevation baking before you head out.
All in all, baking in your RV doesn’t have to be a trial-and-error process; you can easily ensure that everything turns out perfectly with a little extra preparation and some time spent getting to know your RV’s oven. Follow these five tips, and make every baking experience in your RV a breeze from start to finish.
Are you local to the Greater Seattle Area? Looking to upgrade or trade in your RV for something new and different? Kirkland RV Sales in Everett, WA is the leading expert for all things regarding the RV lifestyle and keeping your RV in excellent working order. Give us a call, or stop by the dealership to see what new and “pre-loved” RVs fit your lifestyle and budget.