This weekend I got serious about my oven troubles, and was determined to go look for an oven thermometer and not come back without one. And I did find one I was happy with, took it home and declared it my new personal assistant.
I knew that the temperature would probably be off, and decided to just preheat the oven and wait what happened. I turned the knob to 350 and found a nice, uncomplicated recipe for Cape Cod Cranberry muffins in my brand new Carole Walters book that I decided to turn into a quickbread, as a baking time of an hour seemed less sensitive to wonky ovens than one of 20 minutes.
After half an hour, I checked for the temperature. It was about 250 degress. After 40minutes, it was about 280. Long story short, I turned up the temp, turned it down and did my best to get some consistency in oven temperature. My conclusions after the oven had been on for 2 and a half hours didn't really make me happy, but I got the quick bread baked, within the indicated time, and it was cooked perfectly.
But yes, the oven takes one FULL HOUR to preheat properly, and the knob indication is off, way off, at least 50 degrees. At least I'm no longer in the dark about what I'm doing, but one hour of preheating does seem rediculous. Just to prove my small succes, I'm attaching a picture of the bread. We really liked it, I added lots of cranberries and nuts, and as the recipe called for orange juice, I used the zest of the orange as well. I think I could easily have added the zest of two oranges, as I think the bread would benefit from the extra flavor kick, but other than that, it was good.