Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cleaning the Lava Pit (AKA the Oven)

We all know how it goes. You bake a pie, a casserole, a cake that decides it doesn't want to stay in the pan... and they drip and drop "stuff" all over your oven floor. It smokes and stinks and eventually you forget about it. Until the next big holiday rolls around and you want to impress with your mad cookin' skillz... and sparkling clean oven. And you spend hours either running the oven's "self cleaning cycle" - which stinks to high heaven - and then more hours sweeping and wiping out the leftover residue, OR you spend hours on your hands and knees scrubbing your knuckles raw trying to scrape off the lava-rock-like substance that has become one with your oven floor.

"Here I am to save the day! Mickey Mouse is on his way!" or something like that. No, really, I want to offer you a last minute Thanksgiving Day Feast Preparation tip for keeping your oven lava-free until next year. This morning I decided it was a good time to clean our oven.

Exhibit A: My dirty oven.
Note my mistake in not covering the WHOLE floor of the oven!!
There is baked-on "goo" in the 2" open space on either side of the foil.
Also note that the majority of the "lava" is contained on the foil!
Under normal circumstances (meaning, no open cracks in the foil), I simply pull out the dirty foil, wad it up, toss it in the trash, and voila! a clean oven. Since I was in a hurry the last time I put down clean foil (obviously!) I did have to spend some time cleaning up the edges of the floor. When you're in a REAL hurry and don't put foil down at all... you end up with baked-on-for-life scars like you see in my freshly scrubbed clean oven.

Exhibit B: My clean oven.
Note the baked on stuff from a previous time with no foil.
(it looks much worse in the picture)
It's important to use foil.
Please ignore the runny-looking drips on the back wall.
There was no way I could reach them in my pregnant state.

Exhibit C: My newly foiled oven.
Nice, sparkly clean foil! Note that I've made SURE
to get it all the way to the edges of the floor and then some.

Exhibit D: My tools for the project.
Comet, a razor, a bucket of hot water and a dishrag.

That's all there is to it! The Comet is a fume-free, non-abrasive scrubbing powder so I can use it without fear of scratching the glass in the door or the enamel.

The razor blade... well, I'm sure it could do serious scratching damage, but I use it just like I do for my glass stove-top and it works wonders for removing what the dishrag can't scrub off. Seriously. I even attacked some of the old stuff again today and managed to get some more of it off.

(If you're lucky, your oven door is removable. Then you can practically climb inside the thing and scrub it with great ease. I thought ours came off, but it doesn't. All the more reason to keep the foil covering the entire bottom! Haha!)

After I do all the initial scrubbing, I do wipe it down good with clean water, and then heat it up good to get rid of any soap residue that might be left. This can emit somewhat of a faint odor, but really not much. After that, I put down the clean foil and call it a day.

*Disclaimer: There have been a handful of people that have told me that putting foil in the bottom of the oven like this will mess with the baking temperature, the way it bakes, the way the thermometer reads the oven temperature, so on and so forth. I keep using my oven like I always have, things bake like normal, and I can't tell a difference.


Katie said... [Reply to comment]

I love the foil trick for the bottom of the oven! It saves me big time, especially when baking pies. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sally said... [Reply to comment]

I haven't read this yet, but I will as soon as I get a moment. I bought an oven mat from Carol Wright for I think about $7. It's some weird plastic that slips under your heating element, and every so often you just pull it out and wipe it off. Nothing sticks to it. It's amazing. I highly recommend it. But, I'm sure foil does the same job of protecting the oven, you just get a new piece instead of wiping it off.

Sally said... [Reply to comment]

Sounds like you have had a productive morning! Enjoy baking in your clean, newly-foiled oven.

Maria D. said... [Reply to comment]

Oooh! Great tip! I'm a little scared to see what the bottom of my oven looks like, but when I finally muster that courage, I'll probably do the foil thing. Have a great Thanksgiving!

Alta said... [Reply to comment]

I love the foil too! I just cleaned my oven the other day but I used an oven cleaner. I would have come over and cleaned yours but you didn't ask. LOL
It looks wonderful!