Toaster ovens are pretty great, right? While they’re perhaps most notably found in college students’ dorm rooms next to, or in lieu of, a George Forman grill, they’re very useful and convenient kitchen tools to use.
I have one myself, and I LOVE it. I think I probably use it more than anyone should use a toaster oven, but let the haters hate I say. But honestly, I didn’t have one for a while so I didn’t know what I was missing. Growing up we had a toaster and we had an oven, but no toaster oven. One day I found one in a second-hand shop and I had space in my kitchen, so I thought why not? I’ve been making the most of it ever since!
Of course, it’s a great tool to cook basic things like frozen pizzas and the like. They’re also great for rewarming foods (like the frozen pizza I couldn’t finish) or other things that can get soggy when you reheat them in the microwave.
But since it was so convenient I expanded what I used it for and before you know it, I was baking all sorts of foods in my toaster oven, cakes included!
Wait, I hear you ask, can you really bake a cake in a toaster oven? Absolutely!
Here’s what I have learned so far about baking in a toaster oven.
Can You Bake a Cake in a Toaster Oven?
Yes! You can certainly bake a cake in the toaster oven. You can cook the same things in a toaster oven that you can cook in a regular oven, cakes included.
In fact, I’ve baked quite a few successful cakes so far in my humble counter-top oven. Whilst there were some unsuccessful ones too, I’ve chalked them up to bad baking and user error rather than the fault of the oven itself.
I found that my first cakes were just beginners luck as my real baking skills showed themselves as I started to try to bake things beyond white cake and the results were borderline disastrous. However, don’t let that deter you! the toaster oven worked very well to bake the cakes! They just don’t happen to work miracles as well.
However, there are some differences – both good and bad – between baking in a toaster oven and baking in a traditional oven. There are also some extra things that you have to consider when baking in a toaster oven that you don’t face while baking in a traditional oven.
If you’re thinking of using the ‘bake’ setting on your toaster over, I would definitely recommend giving it a try.
Benefits of Baking in a Toaster Oven
At the beginning of the article, I sounded pretty excited about my toaster oven, right? Well, it’s for pretty good reason, actually a handful of reasons. Here are some of the benefits of baking in a toaster oven.
Smaller appliances use less energy, and that goes for a toaster oven as well. So instead of spending more money on energy using your main oven, you can save on your energy bill by using a toaster oven instead. They use only about half the amount of energy in fact! They’re also much cheaper to buy as well! The size is particularly beneficial when you are cooking something small, or reheating something when you don’t need the large space of a traditional oven.
Also, since it’s small it not only takes up less space in your kitchen than an oven but also produces less ambient heat. This is particularly nice in the summertime when you want to bake a cake or something else perhaps and you don’t want to heat up your whole kitchen or even house too much.
It preheats super fast! Compared to ovens, a toaster oven preheats much, much faster. When I have been baking cakes myself, the toaster oven would be preheated before I even could get all the ingredients out of the cupboard, let alone assemble them! So it can save a lot of time having to wait around for it to preheat as you do with a full-size oven.
Toaster ovens are easy to move around so you can also bring them in a recreational vehicle, or a small cabin as well so you can bake in places that may not already have an oven.
Easy to Clean
Due to their small size and location on the countertop, they’re much easier to clean. Large ovens can be a massive pain, literally, when you try to clean them. Bending over and going all the way into the back of an oven is quite difficult, not to mention time-consuming compared to their toaster oven counterparts.
Lastly, you can also reheat things very quickly and at a better quality than using either a microwave or a standard oven.
Downsides of Baking in a Toaster Oven
I wish there were only amazing things about baking in a toaster oven but unfortunately, there are some downsides of baking in a toaster oven too.
A toaster oven has a reduced capacity compared to a traditional oven. And while this is beneficial for some things it can be a drawback as well. It means that you can’t cook as many things at one time. Often times you are limited to baking a single thing and even that one thing may have to be at a small capacity. So oversize dishes or large pieces of meat may not work, as well as a full-size cookie sheet, or even a large cake. So for some things the toaster oven is not quite fit to handle.
It may not cook quite as hot as a normal oven. Despite the reading saying 350 degrees, it likely will take a little longer than a normal oven. But maybe it won’t, either – more on that later. But an additional downside here is that you may have to keep an additional eye on your cake when baking in a toaster oven for the first time.
Hot Spot Positioning
The “hot spots” from the coils may cause the cake, or whatever you’re baking, to cook unevenly. So depending on your toaster oven you may need to rotate the cake while baking it to allow for even baking.
You will need to be mindful of the coils not only for the hot spots but also in relation to the proximity to the cake. If the cake is too close to the coils either on the top or bottom, it may cause the cake to burn.
Reduced Temperature Control
Toaster ovens have less temperature control than a standard oven. This can make it tricky if you have a recipe that calls for a very specific temperature.
So, there are a few drawbacks when baking in a toaster oven. However if you’re not baking for a lot of people, and once you become familiar with how your toaster oven bakes things, then you won’t have any problem baking with your toaster oven.
Key Things to Know When You Bake a Cake in a Toaster Oven
As I have previously alluded to, there are some extra things that you may have to know and/or keep an eye on when you bake a cake in a toaster oven. But, they’re pretty simple and once you get the hang of it you will be baking with your toaster oven like a pro in no time.
Finding Hot Spots
The hot spots are important to pinpoint so you know how you should rotate your cake to prevent overcooking or burning at certain points. If you don’t adjust for this then you may have parts of your cake burned while some may be just right.
The good news is, is that It’s pretty easy to find the hot spots. All you need is either oatmeal or breadcrumbs and a baking tray or baking pan that fits into the toaster oven. Then, you just cover the pan or try in a single layer of breadcrumbs or oatmeal. Preheat the toaster oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Once it has been preheated, place the tray or pan into the oven. Then wait. It will only be a few minutes and then take it out of the toaster oven. You will notice the areas that the oats or breadcrumbs have been browned or even burnt. These are your “hot spots”. Now that you know that these areas will receive more heat than others, you can rotate the cake accordingly so the hot spot doesn’t cook just one part of the cake the entire time.
The pan size will definitely matter and you will have to use a small one that’s different from the one that you use in your main oven. Most modern toaster ovens can accommodate a 9-inch pan. But for older and smaller models, an 8-inch pan is an ideal choice.
Time and Temperature Considerations
Like I said before, there can be some issues when it comes to the temperature regulation of the toaster oven, which can have a direct impact on the amount of time that it takes to bake something. This is particularly true of older models that are not as well insulated.
But, it’s not a problem. All you have to do is find out if your temperature reading of the oven matches the true temperature inside the oven. To do this all you need is a thermometer.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and wait for it to be preheated, about 10 minutes is safe. Then put the thermometer in the oven. Wait for 5 or so minutes for the toaster oven to regain the lost temperature and then check the reading of the thermometer. The temperature reading on the thermometer will be the true temperature of the oven.
This is important because then the next time you bake something in your toaster oven you can then adjust the temperature accordingly to make up for the higher or lower temperature reading. Due to the weaker insulation of the toaster oven, it’s quite likely that it will be at a lower temperature, not higher. But it’s always good to double-check.
Modern toaster ovens are built better and have better temperature regulation which makes the discrepancies in temperature less likely than with older models.
How to Bake a Cake in a Toaster Oven
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure to account for temperature adjustments as I previously described.
- Thoroughly grease the baking pan with butter before pouring the batter into the pan.
- Pour the batter into the pan. Be careful not to overfill it, as it will rise in the baking process. I recommend only about ½ to ⅔ of the way.
- Put the pan in the preheated toaster oven. Check on it every few minutes to see if it has started to rise.
- Once you notice that it has started to rise, rotate the cake 180 degrees. Since it’s about midway through the baking process at this point, this helps to allow for even baking.
- After you rotate it, cover the pan with a greased sheet of aluminum foil.
- Bake until the cake tester or toothpick comes out clean, that is, no batter is stuck to the tester after you stick it into the cake. The cake will also feel springy and start to separate itself from the pan.
- Let the pan cool for a few minutes and then turn the cake onto a wire rack to cool.
Top Tips For Baking a Cake in a Toaster Oven
Here are some things to keep in mind when you bake a cake in a toaster oven.
- Understand the nuances of your own toaster oven before you bake anything. Not every toaster oven will cook the same especially older models. So before you go and start baking, make sure to learn where the hot spots are and check the temperature reading. This will allow you to be much more successful when baking in a toaster oven.
- Be careful when using parchment paper. If it gets too close to the heat coils it could potentially start a fire. So keep that in mind when using it. To be safe, make sure that no parchment paper hangs off of the pan.
Baking in a Conventional Oven vs a Toaster Oven
Hopefully, you are as convinced as I am by now that toaster ovens are awesome and they can almost entirely replace a conventional oven.
Since toaster ovens boast many different cooking and baking modes, you can use them pretty much exactly like you do a conventional oven. And as modern toaster ovens address the issue of temperature control, they will be even better replacements for the conventional oven going forward.
However, the one difference that will remain is the size of what can be baked in a toaster oven. But if it can fit into a toaster oven you can bake anything you want just like you would do with a conventional oven.