Illustration for article titled How to Use the Residual Heat of Your OvenPhoto: Zephyr_p (Shutterstock)

Heating up an entire oven takes a lot of energy, and it can be a little wasteful to use it all to heat a single food (whether it’s a party pizza or a small pork loin). But as anyone who has ever used an oven knows, ovens stay hot and roasted even after they are turned off – that’s the marvel of thermodynamics – so you might as well get that heat working.

Illustration for article titled How to Use the Residual Heat of Your Oven

For example, let’s say you’ve bought (or baked) a nice baguette to have with your oven-cooked dinner, but all of your butter is (tragically) cool and cold in the refrigerator. Place the butter in a rimmed bowl, set the bowl on the warm oven and let it sit and soften while you set the table. (How quickly it softens depends on how hot the thing ran, so use your best judgment.) If your bread is a little stale, don’t fret. Residual heat can also be used to crisp bread that is a day or two old (Let it run underwater at first it’s really stale).

When a good chunk of time has passed and most of the heat is already seeping out of your oven, you can step up your cheese course by using the final heat to bring a fancy cheese to room temperature. (Room temperature cheese tastes much better as cold cheese.) You can also throw bread dough in there and use it as a proof drawer – but only after it has cooled significantly; You want it to be warm – between 75 and 95ºF – not hot.

I find a warm stove in the morning to be particularly helpful. I will often keep my bacon in the oven after turning it off to keep it hot and I will throw the toast in to toast it well until the eggs are done. (I always cook the eggs last as they have to cook quickly and be served hot.) If your oven wasn’t set too high to begin with, you can even use it as a plate warmer. Nothing ruins a hot egg like a cool plate.

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