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Is there any particular reason 180 degrees Celsius is so commonly called for in baking, roasting, deep frying?

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14  
Because 180 deg is Pi radians. Get it? Pie. Radians. –  skytreader Mar 25 at 6:48
    
Pie are squared. It is true. –  Michael Owen Sartin Mar 25 at 13:04

2 Answers 2

up vote 29 down vote accepted

Ovens are by their nature a high-heat cooking method, and thus create a temperature gradient in the food. The outside of the item is the hottest, because it is in contact with the hot air, and exposed to the radiant (infrared) heat coming from the oven walls, ceiling and floor.

Heat from the outside then conducts into the inside overtime. The effect of this is that the surface of the food will be the hottest, and the center the coolest.,

180 C (350 F) is a moderate oven. It balances:

  • Cooking the food through
  • Overcooking the outside

It is suitable for a wide range of baked goods and other dishes, although often within limits (especially for non-baked goods) you can trade temperature and time off.

Note that a single oven can only have one temperature, and a moderate oven is good for many cakes and cookies; for baking and heating through casseroles; for roasting root vegetables; for maintaining a braise; and for roasting many meats; and many other tasks. If you want to have multiple items in the oven at the same time, it is a good temperature to choose that will give good results for a wide variety of items, even if it is not ideal for every item.

Still, it is not ideal for every cooking technique and food item. Low and slow roasting (for tremendously succulent pulled pork, brisket, and so on) is done as low as 200 F (93 C); some people favor high temperature roasting of certain meats to get a crispy exterior while maintaining a rare interior with temperatures of 450 F (232 C), or even higher.

Many breads are baked at higher temperatures--and of course, pizza infamously is ideally done at temperatures home ovens cannot even achieve, so at home they are often baked at the maximum oven setting around 550 F (280 C).


Deep frying is a separate matter, and it is a complete coincidence that the ideal temperature for deep frying matches that of roasting.

The way deep frying works is that the heat of the oil heats the outside of the food, but it is hot enough to nearly instantly vaporize the water at the surface of the food. This water creates a small pocket of vapor around the food, preventing the oil from entering and making the item completely oily. In order for this effect to happen, the oil must be sufficiently hot which starts around 180 C / 350 F.

On the other hand, again, you don't want the food to burn on the outside before it cooks through, but more importantly, you don't want the oil smoking, and developing off flavors (many culinary fats have a smoke point starting not too far above these temperatures). For these reasons, frying much above this temperature is generally not a good idea. Most ideal frying temperatures are somewhere in the 350 F - 365 F (180 C 0 185 C) range.

I suspect many recipes indicate 350 F simply because it has become common and conventional.

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1  
Picky people look at 180°C and see 356°F, but this is cooking, not analytical chemistry. 176.67°C is just not a convenient number to try to set your oven at. –  Wayfaring Stranger Mar 24 at 14:05
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@WayfaringStranger Sure, but those numbers only had two significant digits anyway :-) :-) :-) –  SAJ14SAJ Mar 24 at 14:09
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Can you provide some more details about pizza? This is the first I've heard of the temperature being so high. –  ashes999 Mar 24 at 16:20
    
That would be at least a question and probably a book. Professional pizzeria ovens are often in the range of 700-900 F (370 - 480 C). The pizzas bake very rapidly. –  SAJ14SAJ Mar 24 at 16:39
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As @SAJ14SAJ says, it's a bookworthy topic. The basic gist is that you want the crust to be crisp on the bottom and the cheese lightly browned on top, but the center of the crust to be chewy. This is achieved by very high heat and very short cooking time - sometimes as little as 1-2 minutes, for brick-oven pizzas. Note that some recipes - such as pan or deep-dish pizza - alter this significantly because the pizza is thicker - you have to lower the heat and increase the time so it doesn't burn the exterior before the interior is ready. –  GalacticCowboy Mar 24 at 17:03

In Swden, I have never seen 180 C in a recipe. Very common is 225, followed by 175 and 200. (As far as I have seen, for baking cakes, bread, and gratinating)

This site lists the oven temperature for some various game. It is either 125 or 150.

For more domestic meat, mostly 175 C is recommended by SwedishMeat.

The reason for the 25/75 endings is probably because ovens in Sweden are labeled this way.

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Interesting to know 180 being "common" could be a locale thing. Thanks for your input! –  aaaidan May 26 at 23:23

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