Baking is an art that keeps giving. One day you will learn to make real cakes, and the next thing you know, there is something called edible paint.
One of the most common directions bakers uses is “180° fan”. As typical as this expression is, most do not understand what this means and how to use it in a recipe.
This article aims to explain what this expression means and the ovens it applies to.
What Does 180 Fan Mean?
180 fan means turning the temperature to 180 degrees with the fan on. This is only possible in a fan oven which is an electric oven but with a fan attached to it. The temperature advice for regular ovens is often more than that of a fan oven. For instance, if a regular oven is heated at 160°C (356°F), its fan-oven temperature would be less than 160°C (356°F).
Fan Ovens In the U.S
For me hearing my favorite baker say ‘fan-oven’ was quite confusing. I mean, I have a convection oven. Then I did some digging, and after some excessive reading, I had the answer.
Fan Oven = Convection oven in the U.S.
You see, my oven has a distinctive fan that sends blasts of hot air to help cook the food. In older versions of this oven, the gas settings were changed using a valve.
The conversion details below further explain the difference in temperatures.
For a fan-forced/convection oven, the temperature must be set at a lower scale than that of a conventional oven. For instance, 170°C (338°F) for a fan-forced oven is 190°C (374°F) for a conventional oven.
Similarly, 210°C (410°F) for a fan oven means 230°C (446°F) for a conventional oven. Therefore, if you are cooking with a regular oven, then you might want to increase the heat by 20 degrees.
The Pros and Cons of a Convection Oven
I have had a fan oven for years and never had an issue with undercooked food. The good thing about a convection oven is that I can bake two cakes simultaneously.
Meaning, that the one I place on the bottom rack will also be cooked as evenly as the top one. The fan helps disperse heat evenly throughout the oven.
This is my secret to getting that beautiful baked golden on the outer layers and a soft, moist yet well-cooked center in any cake.
A conventional oven, on the other hand, causes the outside to cook faster than the middle. And you are sure to get an uncooked center the minute you take the cake out of the oven.
Also, your croissants won’t be flaky and cooked all the way through. No one wants an undercooked croissant.
Fortunately, I chose to invest in a fan oven. It cooks up my favorite banana bread recipe in no time, and the croissants are just out of this world.
Even though I absolutely adore my fan-forced oven, there are a few cons to its greatness. Yes, you read that right.
You’ve probably heard bakers use the term 180 fan quite a bit. This is because it is the ideal temperature for so many dishes. However, if you plan to bake something delicate like a macaron, you will be required to adjust the temperature at much lower.
You can’t get recipes like angel food cake right in the first go. The first time I attempted an angel cake, it fell to one side, and the sides were crispy.
Then there is the fear of overcooking fast-drying meats. I mean, I tried to bake a Thanksgiving turkey once. Needless to say, I had to make quite a few temperature adjustments.
For recipes that use conventional oven settings, you must decrease your fan oven temperature by 20°C. Also, make sure you ‘have to’ preheat the oven or not, as fan ovens don’t usually need it.
What Must You Look For in a Convection Oven?
This is a tricky one. Susan Reid, editorial director of Sift, suggests buying one where you can turn the convection settings off.
There are several hybrid models available in the market where you can just turn the fan setting off. Reid Suggests that a baker must look for four settings before finalizing their purchasing decision. Look for an oven with broiling, baking, convection baking, and convection roasting options.
Convection baking has a lower fan speed. This is the perfect setting for dry roasting vegetables and anything you’d like to dehydrate.
The convection roasting setting works wonders for a juicier and heavier cut of meat. You can certainly enjoy a reverse seared steak in this setting.
Convection settings also work well for quick baking of bread. However, it is crucial to follow the recipe and confirm the recommended temperature and settings.
Experimenting is another excellent way to understand how well your oven bakes and its temperature management as well.
That said, a pro tip to finding the right oven is looking for the extra heating option next to the fan. If a convection oven has one, it is the right one for you.
This setting helps regulate hot air inside the oven and maintain cooking consistency. Most models with this additional setting are labeled ‘European convection, True Convection, or third-element convection’.
Calibrating a 180° Fan Setting on a Convection Oven
I have a relatively new version of the convection oven and therefore haven’t had to deal with any issues. On the other hand, my mother’s oven has a somewhat unreliable dial, but she refuses to upgrade.
Baking at her place is tricky, but I’ve built an understanding of this old appliance rather well. An oven thermometer is your best friend.
Most fan ovens stop showing the correct temperature somewhere down the line. And if you don’t have a thermometer, you can use the sugar method.
This method uses the melting point of sugar, which is 185.556°C (366°F), to determine the temperature of a fan oven.
One way to do this is by placing some sugar in a preheated oven at 190.556°C (375°F). If the sugar melts, then your oven is heating up, but if it fails to melt, then the oven is running cold.
To avoid cleaning up the sticky burnt sugar, place the sugar in an oven-safe foil to check the temperature.
Frequently Asked Questions on What Does 180 Fan Mean
Should a Fan Oven Be Pre-Heated Before Baking?
Experts suggest not to preheat a fan oven as you can risk overcooking or burning your food from the sides. However, some meat recipes may require you to pre-heat the oven before you begin cooking. Make sure to consult the recipe on the type of oven.
When Is a Convection Bake Necessary?
A convection oven uses a dry temperature for quick-cooking—roasting, browning, or crisping. The heat circulation ensures that the outside of the food dries up faster and the temperature remains steady throughout.
What is a 200 C Fan?
For a regular oven, this means a temperature of 180 °C, while a fan oven will be 160°C. Bear in mind that the type of oven you use matters in temperature. To bake the perfect bake, you must first calibrate the temperature.