Talking Point: Orlando Murrin: December 2021

Each month we invite a Guild member to sound off about something they feel strongly about. This month, Guild President Orlando Murrin. 

When I set out to do the testing for my new book, I wanted to see if you actually need to preheat the oven. I discovered that in 90% of cases you don’t – you just add 5-10 minutes to the baking time. A cold-start works for roasts, bread, pastry, cakes, Yorkshire puddings, the lot – no matter whether you’re cooking by fan, conventional or gas. The only times I preheat now are if I’m in a screaming hurry – pizza (because I’m impatient and like the scorched effect) – and delicate patisserie items. I have still to experiment with profiteroles and macarons, as suggested by Nichola Fletcher.

It has been pointed out that because you add time at the end, you’re not saving more than 4-8 minutes in total. But most cooks preheat their ovens for far longer than necessary.

Recipe writers are expected to give exact timings, and because ovens heat differently, we can only do that by drawing a start line, in other words, preheating. We can, however, make sure readers know that preheating is optional, and make sure we don’t put the ‘preheat’ instruction too early in the recipe method.