We are finally getting settled in in the new house. Yesterday, Tom and I had some people over for a casual dinner and I was excited to try baking something in the kitchen for the first time. It didn't look good at first. My fancy schmancy Viking oven took forever to preheat. I set it at 350 degrees, and after 20 minutes, my oven thermometer only read 250 degrees. I made cake batter (I haven't unpacked my Kitchenaid mixer yet, and so I made pumpkin-raisin cake without the raisins, which you can make with just a spatula and a bowl in about 5 minutes), took a shower, came back downstairs, and still, the oven thermometer only read 300. Now I was starting to panic a little. I cranked the oven to 400 degrees and waited another 15 minutes. Finally, my oven thermometer read 350, and it held there right on the nose for the 35 minutes it took to bake the cake (the recipe says to bake the bars in a 15 1/2 by 10 1/2 inch baking sheet for 25 minutes; I always bake them in a 9 by 13 inch pan instead for 35 minutes).
The cake turned out very tasty as always, but I guess the moral of the story is that even a high end oven might not perform as expected, and that's why I always, always, use an oven thermometer when I bake. I'll have to see how the oven performs in the future. If I can just set the oven at 400 to bake at 350 (which is the temperature I bake at 95% of the time), it might be okay; otherwise, I'm going to have to call a repairman to come in and try to recalibrate the thing. I'll also have to make sure that the oven can get hot enough to make pizza!
Recipe: Pumpkin-Raisin Bars from epicurious.com.