Whenever someone is strapped for time and needs to cook something, they will assume that the time and temperature listed in the recipe are inversely proportional; logic a Straw Vulcan would be proud of.
For example, they'll assume a cake that needs 30 minutes at 200° Celsius (or 392° Fahrenheit) to bake can be baked just as well in 15 minutes at 400° Celsius (or 752° Fahrenheit) , never mind that a normal kitchen oven won't go that high. Expect there to be flames, plenty of smoke, and for the Lethal Chef to pull out something resembling a forest fire from the oven. Or occasionally, a fireball that destroys the entire house, with a perfectly baked pie in the middle of the debris.
Hilarity Ensues. A subset of the horrible cooking skills of a Lethal Chef. This has probably been Truth in Television for some of us at one point in our lives. Also, notice that some processes do behave according to Oven Logic; milk pasteurization, for example, can be done in 5 minutes at 70°C, or in less than 3 seconds at 150°C—though again, the reduction in time is disproportionate to the increase in temperature (and doing it faster kills the taste by caramelizing the milk sugar).
The problem is that cooking (and chemistry) follow their own rules, which the character is not privy to—more specifically, there are several factors to the equation that the "cook" in question fails to consider beyond simply the amount of heat transferred. The rate of heat transfer is not proportional to the temperature of the oven, but to the difference between the temperatures of the oven and the food. Since the temperature of the food changes over time, you'd need to have a firm grasp of differential equations to be able to predict the time required at higher temperatures... or enough experience to cook "by feel", of course.note That's not even counting the effect on chemical kinetics, which will greatly increase the rate of reactions such as oxidation (burning) at high temperatures.note Of course, household temperature scales are also not based around absolute zero like the Kelvin scale is. After all, what exactly would be twice as hot as 100°C or 100°F?note
This trope is also a type of Logical Fallacy. Not (directly) related to Fridge Logic. The more extreme cases will require our chef to use Tim Taylor Technology. See also Mismeasurement, contrast Instant Roast.
- Lethal Chef Akane Tendo in Ranma ˝ had forgotten the boiled eggs, so she thought she could have them up in "a jiffy" by popping the entire carton of eggs into the microwave. It exploded spectacularly.
- In Episode 29 of Cardcaptor Sakura, Meiling Li did this, hoping to have a cake done before Syaoran came home from school (she wanted to show him that she could make a cake for their school's Home-Ec class). Needless to say...
- Millie in Lost Universe. You know that "exploding kitchen, perfect pie" analogy? The one used in the summary at the top of this page? She does this every time she cooks.
- Satoshi in Michiko & Hatchin applies Oven Logic to medication. He takes double the amount of pills recommended dose for adults, figuring it would double effectiveness.
- A version of this occurs in Iron Wok Jan. Jan is a skilled chef, but because he was raised alone by his grandfather, he has no idea how to cook for more than five people. When he starts working at the Gobancho restaurant, he tries to cook vegetables for fifty people by taking the recipes his grandfather taught him and multiplying all of the quantities of food by ten. The end result is deemed a failure. He realizes his mistake later: all of the additional vegetables add too much water and make the dish too juicy.
- A variant appears in the episode "Toys in the Attic" of Cowboy Bebop, where Spike's impatience leads to him trying to use some kind of flamethrower-like tool to cook kebabs more quickly. The results are charred, inedible messes.
- Baldroy from Black Butler is a master of making anything he touches inedible. But it should be expected from a guy who cooks using flamethrowers and dynamite.
- Freaks' Squeele: Chance's solution to cooking two brands of pasta together is to average the cooking times. The result: a big heap of al dente pasta in mush. Not exactly disastrous, but it does put everyone off dinner. (Except Ombre.)
- Laff-A-Lympics: Huck decides to turn the heat higher to cook faster. No numbers are mentioned.
- Up to Eleven in Kyon: Big Damn Hero. Kuyou takes Mikuru's cooking advice about the importance of the proportions between ingredients at face value, a misconception that led her to think she can achieve good results if she simply works at a scale more comfortable for her perception and powers as long as the proportions are respected. Long story short, in Chapter 57 she tried to make a cookie six-point-five times as big as the planet Jupiter in this manner. Apparently, at this scale the gravitational field generated by the cookie's own mass interferes with the baking process.
- In the Discworld of A.A. Pessimal, one of the few male students to take the Assassins' Guild School's Domestic Science coursenote , is research-minded Assassin A.C. Clarke. Arthur is obsessed with what he calls the "macrowave oven" - a means of cooking complex time-heavy dishes in minutes, even seconds. Teacher Joan Sanderson-Reeves puts a very definite stop to that line of thought but concedes it could have explosive uses. Joan then gets hapless student Hermann Meier Wetterarscht, who opted for Dom Sci as an undemanding three hours in the warm, in a class which was almost all girls. Wetterarscht, while trying for brioche and ciabatta, ends up recreating something akin to Dwarf Bread, causing an oven to collapse under the weight and then implode. Joan was not pleased.
- Inverted in The Accidental Tourist: to keep the Thanksgiving turkey moist, the protagonist's sister cooks it overnight at only 140°F (60°C). Unlike the opposite, this can actually work (similar, if less extreme, methods have been endorsed by professional chefs, particularly those associated with the “molecular gastronomy” movement and others who emphasize a scientific approach to cooking), though it can interfere with some turkey-related traditions (like gravy for the side dishes).
- In the 1997 theatrical movie of Bean, the two main characters attempt to pull off this trope when a pair of important guests drop by, both of them having completely forgotten about the appointment. Strapped for time and without having anything else to serve up, they decide to prepare a turkey dinner (which the non-Cloud Cuckoo Lander of them notes would take about 5 hours to prepare) by stuffing it into the microwave and trying to do the job in about 15 minutes. The result is predictable.
- God of Cookery gets away with this because both participants in a cooking contest are using chi blasts to speed their cooking.
- In Bridget Jones' Diary, Bridget decides to make a caramelised oranges dish the night before, but needs to go to bed, so she reverses this idea, putting it on a lower temperature for a longer time. She ends up with something that looks like the picture in the book, if a bit darker. Her guests are prompted to ask "What is this Hon? Is it Marmalade?"
- Inverted in P. G. Wodehouse's Love Among the Chickens. Ukridge, in an attempt to save money, attempts to incubate chicken eggs at a lower temperature for a longer time. Predictably, it fails.
- A tie-in Red Dwarf 'official log' contained a recipe for a curry that is supposed to be left to stand overnight and slow-cooked for some hours before eating. Lister annotates it thus: "Smeg that! Life's too short. Bung it in the microwave for five minutes on Thermo-Nuclear; that's what it's for." Of course, given that he'd already upped the spice content by a couple of orders of magnitude it couldn't have made things much worse by that point.
- In Grimble by Clement Freud, a recipe tells Grimble to boil a potato for 20 minutes. He cuts it into sixteenths and boils them for a minute and a quarter.
- Employed by Katie in The Girl With The Silver Eyes when she realizes that she's late putting the meat-loaf into the stove, so she moves the temperature from 350 to 500 to compensate and burns it. In her defense, she's 9.
- Edge does this in the first season of Blue Water High, turning dinner into a charred mess. This helps establish Edge as someone who knows very little about life outside of surfing.
- Family Matters did it. Laura and Steve were partnered together in a home-ec class, and she tried to speed-bake a cake by doubling the heat. Hilarity ensued.
- The Man's Kitchen in one show of Home Improvement had an over-the-top microwave (or as they called it, a "macrowave") that worked on this principle. It emits so much radiation that you cannot operate it without wearing lead vests.
- This happened on an episode of Pee-wee's Playhouse. Pee-Wee and Ms. Yvonne were baking bread at 360 degrees, and Randy turned the oven up all the way to 700, thinking that it would get done in half the time.
- The older brother on Mr. Belvedere did this in one episode. The title character said, "Kevin, I don't mean to be cruel, but this sounds like something your brother would do."
- The Mr. Belvedere example had an even better line than the one noted above: he also said "Pity we don't have a kiln; we could have eaten yesterday."
- "Instead of Lobster Thermidor we will be having lobster jerkey."
- Kate And Allie had an episode where Allie wasn't going to be around for dinner but prepared it in advance, leaving instructions to put it in the oven at a specified temperature for an hour. Not wanting to wait that long, Kate decided to double the temperature, thinking it would then only take half as long. Cut to the next scene where Kate is scraping the burnt dinner into the garbage, while her daughter, Emma, ate a slice of the pizza they wound up ordering.
- A later episode of Three's Company had an episode where Jack was appearing on TV doing a cooking segment, with Janet and Terri as his assistants. During their rehearsal, Janet addresses the issue and Jack explained why it wasn't a good idea.
- A wonderful episode of Kenan & Kel involved the pair trying to find a Thanksgiving turkey. They finally acquire one but with an hour to go to dinner, elect to place it in a microwave in the oven.
- Neelix does this in an episode of Voyager and it works. Further proof that reality does not apply to this series.
- He also suggests at one point that if the crew picks up some space-gas he could use it to "get more energy" and improve cooking time. Many jokes have been made about Neelix's cooking both in and out of the show.
- One episode of Charles in Charge had a multi-tiered example; Charles and Buddy don't know what temperature to bake the cake at, so Buddy surmises that if a baked potato cooks at 350 degrees, a cake, which is approximately 10 times as big, should cook at 3,000. Since the oven only goes up to 500, they decide to compensate by cooking it for 6 times as long.
- Lois & Clark get a few house guests and they need to cook a turkey rather quickly. 300 degrees for a few hours equals a few seconds with Eye Beams. However, Clark was undergoing a Super-Power Meltdown at the time, causing the turkey to be burnt, and the kitchen to be wrecked.
- Parodied in the The Red Green Show, where a microwave is hooked up to a VCR to introduce fast forward (cook something rapidly), rewind (freeze something rapidly), and eject (launches the food product).
- On The Bob Newhart Show, when the men are supposed to be cooking the Thanksgiving turkey, they wind up with an abbreviated and alcohol-fueled instance. After doing the math (250 degrees, 4 hours = 1000 degrees, 1 hour) a problem and creative solution are presented:
This oven only goes to 500 degrees.
We'll get two ovens!
- A Thanksgiving episode of Good Luck Charlie has Amy turning the turkey fryer Up to Eleven to speed the cooking time. The ensuing explosion launches the turkey into the air and it falls on Teddy. The family ends up eating sandwiches that "may contain turkey" around her hospital bed.
- On Peep Show, Jeremy explains how to "trick" the boiler into heating up the flat faster by setting it to a higher temperature than he actually wants, so it'll panic thinking it has a long way to go only to be shut off before it gets there.
- Annie and Jake try this in the Thanksgiving episode of Marry Me. The turkey ends up burnt and they are forced to rely on Gil's selection of exotic cheeses.
- Speechless also had this in a Thanksgiving episode, with predictable results.
- In one strip of Beetle Bailey, Cookie is watching a cooking-show on television, sizing up the cake-recipe for camp consumption along the way - that is, multiplying every ingredient by 100. At the end, however, the baking-instructions arrive, and in the final panel, Cookie is seen sitting in front of an oven (with black smoke pouring out of it), declaring "It'll be ready next week."
- Calvin and Hobbes once decided that making twenty individual pancakes was too much work, so he just poured in all the batter, so as to make one big pancake and then cut it in half. It should also be noted that when he added the eggs, he didn't bother removing them from their shells.
- An early episode of For Better or for Worse applied this logic to clothes washing. If washing a load of clothes with a standard-sized scoop of detergent gets them clean for the next week, so the kids figured, washing them with the whole box of detergent should get them clean for the next few months!
- One FoxTrot strip played with this trope, with Jason complaining that the recipe didn't make it clear whether a "350-degree" oven was measured in Fahrenheit, Celsius, or Kelvin. Peter jokingly suggested that maybe they wanted him to rotate the oven just short of a full circle.
- The show MA Nswers, a show designed to answer "manly" questions, posed the question "What else [besides an automobile] could you put a HEMI engine into?" Their number 1 answer: a "HEMI grill", which could cook 240 hot dogs in 3 minutes. Whether or not this invokes Oven Logic depends on whether the engine is there to increase the grill temperature or speed up airflow.
- Fire trope? Must be time for a Mythbusters item! While examining various extreme ways to pop popcorn, one of the ways tested was explosions. Answer: No. Explosions either fling the unpopped kernels around, burn them or both. They did, however, discover that you could pop popcorn with lasers, one kernel at a time.
- Used in an unusual way on Food Network Challenge. When pouring sugar into a cold liquid to create designs, one contestant explained that the sugar (300 degrees in an unspecified scale) and the liquid nitrogen (-300 degrees in an unspecified scale) averaged out in temperature. Judging from context, the unspecified scale was Fahrenheit.
- Helix from Freefall takes this to its Logical Extreme: Cooking is fundamentally the application of heat and pressure to food. Doing this faster will logically cook the food faster. What's the fastest way to apply heat and pressure to food? Explosives! Florence explains that you're actually sending massive shockwaves through it, ruining the food.
- And if he asks if he can make popcorn, please tell him "no".
- SF Debris sums it up in his review of the Voyager episode, "Flashback". "What kind of cook thinks that increased heat equals less cooking time? A bad one!"
- In an Honorable Mention from Darwin Award, a chef was cooking an alcohol-enriched fruitcake at 200 F in the oven, when his father dropped by the kitchen. Noticing the low temperature setting, and thinking to speed up the process, the father dialed the heat up to 350. Before the son could finish turning it down, or a verbal warning that "alcohol burns", the cake flamed out, blowing open the oven door and singing his forearm.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "The Cave of Two Lovers", the gaang and a group of hippies find themselves trapped in a tunnel labyrinth. It's been established that the torches they have will last two hours each. Then one of the hippie girls lights five of them saying they are now good for 10 hours.
- One episode of Care Bears had Mr. Beastly watching a cooking show, which at one point directed him to put a bowl of cookie dough in the freezer for 30 minutes — "or the Deep Deep Freeze for 12 seconds!" We never know just how bad Mr. Beastly's oven math is, though, because apparently he fell asleep waiting 12 seconds. When he wakes up, the bowl is encased in a solid block of ice.
- Ed, Edd n Eddy had Eddy do this with a microwaveable burrito, five seconds after he'd already delegated the task to The Smart Guy. No burrito merit badge for them.
- The Garfield Thanksgiving special had Jon do this with the turkey - 350 degrees for five and a half hours becomes 500 degrees when he only has three hours: "Hmm. Guess I'll have to speed things up a bit. (twist twist) 500 degrees! That was easy." What's interesting is that this will actually work, if it's done correctly, although it's a little more complicated than simply putting the turkey in the oven and cranking the heat up. It's known as "two-hour turkey," and the technique is detailed here. (It will not work with a turkey that's still frozen, as Jon's was.)
- An episode of The Simpsons which parodied 24 had Marge trying to bake a cake in time for a bake sale. The recipe called for 20 minutes at 300F, which she equated to 5 minutes at 1200F. The resulting raisin sponge cake was hard enough to break through inexplicably bullet-proof glass.
- In a Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode in which Madame Foster's cookie recipe becomes a worldwide attraction, Bloo is left to make cookies all by himself. He uses this logic to bake a batch, causing the roof of the house to explode.
Bloo: Okay, this is taking too long. Let's see, if it takes 20 minutes to cook at 250 degrees...it should take 2 minutes at 2500 degrees! (Bloo does this, causing the roof to be blown off) Whoops.
- Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi featured the girls in this dilemma, the results looking like a nuclear meltdown had occurred.
- The Powerpuff Girls had an episode dedicated to the girls running a restaurant and they ended up applying this logic to a cake. Hilarity Ensues.
- A Popeye & Son episode had Popeye and Junior using this logic when Olive wasn't available to cook.
- An episode of Hey Arnold! had this used before the thing even went into the oven. Sid manages to mistake tsp for "Ten Square Pounds" instead of "teaspoons". This causes what they were making (an attempt at the world's largest pizza puff) to explode violently.
- Elmyra does this in Tiny Toon Adventures when warming a bottle of milk.
- In an episode of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo Shaggy makes popcorn by putting it in the microwave and setting the temperature to 8 million degrees for one second. It works: His house is instantly filled with popcorn.
- A recipe-based variation in Doug: Roger needs eight bananas for banana pudding but only has six, so he comes up with the brilliant idea of subtracting 2 from everything. The resulting goo isn't very appetizing on its own, but it turns out to be fantastic as a pizza topping. Note that this is almost a valid cooking method, as he could have made a smaller recipe if he reduced each ingredient by 1/4 of its original amount, but subtracted when he should have multiplied. Close, but still so wrong.
- Phineas and Ferb:
- Lampshaded to such an extreme that a literal lamp was involved in the episode "Moon Farm". When Ferb relates a recipe for "Lamb Cobbler" to Candace and Stacy through Phineas and Irving from the moon, the only part that correctly gets through the traditional telephone-game messups (e.g. "One pound of lamp") is the cooking time, 350 for 1 hour. With only five minutes to spare, Stacy declares "It's simple math!" and proceeds to cook it at 9,000 degrees* . It comes out perfectly, leading Stacy to wonder "How can that be? We didn't even put lamb in it!"
- "Bad Hair Day" has Candace sitting under a hair restorer after a disastrous attempt at styling her own hair. She's supposed to sit under it for an hour at setting 5. But Jeremy says he's coming over in 20 minutes, so Candace decides that ten seconds on setting 20 will do just as well. After all, "they wouldn't put a 20 on it if it weren't meant to be used, right?"
- In the Disney short Mickey's Birthday Party, Minnie's oven goes all the way up to "volcano heat." Goofy uses the setting to speed up baking the cake with explosive results.
- The 1987 TV special Blondie and Dagwood, based on the comic strip, had Dagwood attempt this.
- In The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Knights" Gumball orders Darwin to bake cookies, and when Darwin's just putting them in the oven Gumball tells him to bake faster, so he turns up the temperature burning the cookies to a crisp.
- Discussed on Young Justice: M'gann mentions an episode of her favorite sitcom where the main character tries to alter a recipe by making one giant cookie instead of a normal batch.
- In the Lalaloopsy episode "A Hobby For Bea", Bea and Crumbs are trying to bake a giant cookie and Bea gets the idea to double the temperature to reduce the baking time. This results in the cookie being burnt on the surface and too hard to eat.
- In one episode of Voltron Force, Hunk builds an enormous contraption that turns out to be a jet fuel-powered grill to cook a side of ribs bigger than he is. It instantly burns the meat to ash, then blasts itself through the roof and explodes.
- In 2006, a man died in Australia after having received at least 28 "jolts" from a taser, at 50000 volts. Channel Nine News reported this as being the equivalent of "over a million volts altogether". Voltage doesn't work that way (not to mention that both voltage AND current must be high to kill).
- Forensic scientists are taught to use "Degree hours" when calculating how long a body had been dead, because many of the methods they use to judge this, rigour, decomposition, the speed of development of insect larvae, are temperature dependent. This is basically oven logic, but it works because A, despite what CSI teaches everyone, the vast majority of bodies are not frozen by super-intelligent serial killers trying to trick the investigators, nor dumped in Turkish baths for over elaborate reasons and so are usually left at whatever the local air temperature is, and B, calibration curves exist so you can check the local weather reports, and so based on known recent temperatures adjust your time of death accordingly. Still deeply problematic, however, if the bodies are left exposed to the elements for any length of time due to the temperature differences involved.
- If you increase the power output of a microwave, it will take less time to cook something, based on the principle of how they work. However, you only need to worry about this if you're using a commercial microwave (in convenience stores), which are way more powerful than home microwaves; and if used improperly invariably under or over cook one's food. There are also some microwaves that are lower-power than standard home microwaves; these are typically the small ones you see sitting on top of a mini-fridge in a college dorm room. Many frozen foods will list a second, longer cooking time to use in these low-power microwaves.
- Rice is best cooked with a ratio of water to rice 1:1, with an additional half cup of water for evaporation loss. So one cup of rice should be cooked with one-and-a-half cups, two cups two-and-a-half, and so on. Seeing just one cup:one-and-a-half cups without understanding why may naturally lead to the conclusion that four cups of rice is to be made with six cups of water, which results in congee instead of rice.
- There are two types of cooking appliances that apply this trope in its more realistic fashion. The slow cooker takes the "less temperature = longer time" approach cooking things like stews, soups and sauces at (relatively) low temperatures, usually so they can be made in large batches. Pressure cookers on the other hand use the "more heat = less time" approach, using the fact that water boils at higher temperatures if you increase the air pressure. This can be done to cook certain foods that normally need to be boiled for an extended period in a reasonable amount of time, or cook normal ingredients very quickly.
- This same logic frequently occurs in businesses where work is measured in "man-hours" note . If a job is estimated to take X man-hours to complete, then simply throwing more people at the project will decrease the time to completion, right? This mindset is best summed up in an old joke: if it takes a woman nine months to make a baby, then obviously nine women can make a baby in one month.
- Applied to a particularly bad math problem in some form of worksheet. Apparently, you can play music faster by having more people play it.