Yes, if my oven is already hot then I don't have to wait for it to reach the optimal cooking temp when I introduce food, like >>7248945 stated reducing my cooking time. Although I have no idea why someone would put food into an oven that was heating up because that doesn't make sense anyhow.
>>7249132 Absolutely - but only for certain foods. For instance, with breads, you will want to get an immediate hit of high temperature for a good crust. For some vegetables that will only be in the oven for a short amount of time, you will want a high temperature as low temperatures may draw out too much moisture. For items with whipped egg whites that need to be cooked immediately and cannot simply sit around (as they will begin to separate), the cooking process needs to begin ASAP.
>>7248864 For baking things that need to rise, yes I do. I don't want to melt butter slowly in some croissants, where it softens up but doesn't steam puff my pastries as it gets hot. It just sort of leaks out. Imagine that heat hitting the outside first, drying or browning, and sealing it up first, and the when the inside hits boiling point and starts to give off steam, it just expands nicely inside the shell. ......This is a significant part of why you'd preheat, to get the outside hot first like a wall of heat hitting it, versus any fat that would instead render out before seals happened.
I preheat my oven first WITH the pan inside of it when I want to make corn bread or dutch babies. When the batter hits that hot pan it should be screaming hot fat in there and a pan that is thick won't significantly cool down from the sudden pour of the batter contents. I want maximum rise! I would expect the same kind of thing from a souffle, or any kind of popover or muffins or quick bread. Pizza would be disastrous with a cold oven first. Highest heat possible really ,to give that crust some substance underneath it.
For a roast? I might not preheat it for a preferred well done roast that isn't fully thawed/unchilled from the fridge. I want that heat to hit the middle and help it all get down the same rate. Bacon can go in cold on a rack, and actually curls less that way. Ham is fine. Chicken is fine. Except for bacon and maybe meringues? I can't think of an instance you might prefer a cold oven. Preheating is about a 15min process, in general. If you need an initial burst, you'd miss it.
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