Stove Tops: Sealed Electric, Electric Coil, Induction, Gas - what to choose? For the most part, it is personal choice. Just know what you want to do. Do you want to use a canner? Then you need a gas or electric coil. You can find canners for the other top types, but they are more expensive. Make sure you have one high BTU burner - if you ever want to boil a large pot of water for spaghetti or to start a canner to boil, you will need one. The largest one on my stove is 17,500 BTU - Boils water quickly. I do have to move canners to a smaller burner due to canner guidelines.
Ovens: First, you have a recipe, it says moderate oven. That's it, no other temp. Any ideas? A moderate temp for an oven is usually 350 degrees. If the cook time is too long, try 375 the next time you do THAT recipe.
Now, Gas, Electric, One Oven, Two Ovens. Again, it is personal choice. I have a gas top and a gas oven - mainly because I did not want to pay double the price for two choices. I also chose a single oven. I cook very large turkeys sometimes, they would not fit in a double oven. That generally wouldn't matter as I cook them in an electric roaster, but I wanted the option. I had never baked with gas before, so I didn't know what to expect. I have not been happy, at least with the one I have. First, I will put a disclaimer. When we purchased the stove, we had to fit it for propane cooking instead of natural gas. When it was manufactured, the temp was set with natural gas.
Which leads me to:
Temping your oven. Think your oven temperature is not right? That was what I though when a meat loaf that was supposed to take 60 minutes to bake took almost two hours. Cookies that were to take 10 minutes to 15 to 18. I purchased an oven thermometer and put it in the oven in several places. The average temperature difference was 25 degrees. So, I opened my manual, and learned that I could adjust my oven temperature settings. It is still touchy and requires me to rotate pans, but it is worth it to ensure that my food is done close to the time it is supposed to be.
Okay, so now you have your oven temp set. How do you know if you have hot spots. Way one: Don't rotate your pans of cookies, which ones are browner? Way two: bread. No, not baking bread. Toasting bread.
Step 1: Purchase an inexpensive loaf of white bread, preferably square instead of round top to allow for more coverage.
Step 2: Open your oven and pull out the oven rack, making sure it is in the middle of the oven.
Step 3: Open the bread. Remove the end of the bread and set is aside.
Step 4: Put the first row of bread in the back of the oven (the back of the rack should be within the walls of your oven - the importance of this will be evident in a moment).
Step 5: Do you have a dog that is a carb fiend like ours? Give her the end you removed so she doesn't steal pieces off of the oven rack.
Step 6: Finish placing the bread on the rack, avoiding the stares of the dog when she finishes her bread.
Step 7: Push the bread in the oven and turn the oven to 350 degrees. Watch for the bread to start to curl up.
Step 8: Remove the rack from the oven. Turn the bread over.