The Real Reason We Bake Everything At 350 Degrees

Posted on Mar 23, 2019

You’ve probably noticed that a lot of recipes for things like cookies and cakes all seem to call for the same temperature: 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You’d think there would be some variation there, so why 350? It’s not actually arbitrary, and the reasons why are an interesting mixture of science and history.

Mankind has been baking for a long, long time, but it was only at the end of World War II that ovens started to come with exact temperature controls. In the few decades before that, ovens tended to come with only three options for temperature: slow, moderate, and hot.

If you happened to dig out any of your great-grandmother’s recipes, you might be baffled by the bit that calls for baking in a “moderate” oven. It seems archaic today, but it was a huge step forward over how Victorian-era bakers judged whether or not their ovens were hot enough. They estimated oven temperature by sprinkling the bottom of the oven with flour. If it didn’t catch fire and only started to blacken, then it was perfect. Don’t try this at home!

Over the years, recipes have changed along with the technology we use to cook them. Old terminology was updated to new technology, and when recipes that called for a “moderate” oven were updated, the temperature was just estimated to be 350. A temperature which, incidentally, is usually in the middle of most oven dials.

Watch the video for more on the real reason we bake everything at 350 degrees.


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