Ask a cook

Ask a cook

Q. My new electric oven poses a frustrating problem. When baking two pies on the same rack, one stays so runny in the center that I can’t serve it. It has happened with coconut custard, as well as pecan. I’ve tried adjusting the temperature to no avail. Any ideas?

A. It sounds like you’re having a serious issue with hot spots. That’s what you call it when some areas of an oven get hotter than others.

Cookbook writer Nathalie Dupree offers a good way to check: Take a wide, flat pan, such as a jelly roll pan, and spread out slices of white bread in a single layer. It might take two pans, side by side, to completely fill the center shelf of the oven.

Set the oven to 350 degrees, then watch the pan of bread, checking every 5 to 10 minutes, until the bread is browned. That will show you the pattern of where your oven may not be heating evenly.

If that’s the problem, call the service department for your oven and ask for it to be adjusted or replaced.

If it isn’t, look for any difference between the pies, such as the pie plate or pan you put them in.

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