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Baking Basics: Oven Placement

By Cook's Illustrated Published October 2003

Our many years of experience in the test kitchen baking pies, tarts, cakes, cookies, muffins, and quick breads have shown us where recipes are likely to go wrong. Here are the most important tips and techniques we use to ensure successful results when baking.

Stagger

When baking more than one cake pan at the same time, allow for some space between the pans and between the pans and the oven walls. Also, stagger their placement in the oven so that the air can circulate and the cakes will bake evenly.

Rotate

Even calibrated ovens have hot and cool spots, with temperatures falling within a 50-degree range. Cookies, pies, tarts, and all but the most delicate cakes should be rotated during baking to achieve even browning and baking. The halfway point or shortly thereafter is generally a good time to rotate. If you have one pan on the bottom rack and another on the top, switch their positions and, in addition, turn each one 180 degrees.

To ensure even baking, rotate pans in oven and make sure there is space between multiple pans.