Here's how to find out if your oven needs to be calibrated. This simple sugar test will help you decide if your oven is running at the right temperature.
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Is your oven calibrated to the correct temperature? This little pile of sugar can tell you.

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That's because...SCIENCE!

Sugar's melting point is 366 degrees F (186 degrees C). So if you place a half-tablespoon of sugar in an oven heated to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C), and the sugar does not melt; your oven runs cold. Likewise, if you put the sugar in a 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) oven, and it melts; your oven runs hot.

So to test for a too-hot oven, start well below the melting point. Like this:

1. Heat the oven to...350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. Add about 1/2 tablespoon of common table sugar to an oven-safe dish. (Or better yet, to avoid the perils of molten-sugar clean-up, pour the sugar onto aluminum foil).

3. Put the dish into the hot oven and set the timer for 15 minutes.

4. When time's up, check the sugar. If it melted, the oven runs hot. If it didn't melt, start again. Raise the heat to 360 degrees F (182 degrees C). And start again with Step 2. And so on.

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To test for a too-cold oven, heat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Then follow steps 2 and 3.

This time, if the sugar does NOT melt (but is just a little discolored), then you're running cold.

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So then, to recap. If you discover that the sugar melts when the temperature reaches, say, 360 degrees F (182 degrees C), you know that your oven is off by about 6℉. Or put another way, when the dial reads 360 degrees F (182 degrees C), you know the temperature inside the oven is actually 366 degrees F (185 degrees C).

And, of course, you can always gauge the temperature with an oven-safe thermometer. But where's the fun in that?

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