You can never go wrong with 350 degrees Fahrenheit (or 350F) if you are baking or cooking any food in the oven. For my fellow bakers who use the metric system, that is roughly 175 degrees Celsius or Gas Mark 4. Many a dessert involving the basic flour, sugar, egg, and butter combination will reveal itself best if baked at 350F. In fact, 350F will bake cakes, cookies, bread, brownies, and cupcakes to perfection in a matter of minutes.
Modern ovens are equipped typically with thermometers that are digitally calibrated to proper oven temperatures, within a few degrees. The best (and most expensive) ovens, however, are likely to have areas of uneven temperatures, known as “hot spots”. Hot spots cause food to cook at different temperatures, and therefore, different rates. So that cupcake pan in the oven may cook faster on one side compared to the other.
One work-around to hot spots is to rotate pans halfway through baking. Alternatively, an oven thermometer–sold at retail stores for as little as $6–can provide the real temperature INSIDE the oven. Sometimes using both options works well. But that decision is entirely up to you.
So the lesson here is to get to know your oven: it is worthwhile to test for hot spots. And, don’t always depend on that oven dial or temperature display. A little investment in an oven thermometer can make the difference between a glorious soft and chewy cookie or one that is burnt beyond recognition.