Dear Home Ec 101,
I was baking a pecan pie for my sister-in-law when smoke suddenly started to fill the kitchen. When I looked in the oven, I noticed that some of the syrupy filling had spilled over onto the bottom of the oven, but the pie was done, so I took it out and didn’t think to even wipe up the sticky mess. It has since encrusted itself to the bottom of my oven and whenever I try to preheat the oven, it fills our home with smoke. In the oven’s user’s manual, it says not to run the self-clean cycle without cleaning up any spill-overs, because it’s a fire hazard. Their solution: clean up spillovers with a “warm, soapy cloth.” Well, a warm soapy cloth doesn’t do squat. It also states not to use abrasive cloths such as steel wool and not to use any oven cleaners. As a result, I’m on my third week with no oven and my poor husband even missed out on a birthday cake. I am desperate to use my oven again.
How To Manage A Sugary Spill In The Oven
Dear Crispy Critter,
A razor blade will probably be your best bet to scrape away the sugar. Hardware stores typically carry these near the painting supplies and should run you in the neighborhood of three dollars. Sometimes they are called glass scrapers. Use this ONLY if you have a smooth finish in your oven.
Lisa has had great success with baking soda. She mixes a paste with baking soda and water before and liberally coats the debris in the bottom of the oven and leaves it on for 12 to 24 hours. After grimacing because it’s not as clean as she would like, she will mist it with white vinegar from a spray bottle to get it to bubble and remove the rest of the grime. The vinegar (acid) reacts with the baking soda (base) to gently foam away stuck debris, and it also helps to deodorize the sticky burnt-on sugar smell. Wipe it off, and when you have removed all of the leftover sugary sludge, take a clean damp cloth and repeat wiping until all the baking soda is removed.
For those of you with what is referred to as a perpetually cleaning oven that has a rough finish, the sugar will eventually bake off, don’t leave the oven unattended until most of the residue is gone.
In the future, place a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil on the rack below any dishes likely to spill over. And, if it does spill over, you’re not stuck scrubbing your baking pan.
If you still find yourself with a spill, immediately and liberally soak the spill with salt. The residue should easily wipe away once the oven is cool.