Saturday, December 30, 2006

My experiments with baking

When a person has a home in the suburbs, a spouse, 2 kids and an SUV in the garage, it is quite safe to assume that the SUV is actually in the driveway and the garage is filled with presents accumulated over the years. Therefore, I hesitate to take toys and dolls whenever I visit these families, knowing fully well that if I'm lucky, the gift will spend 10 days in the house before being dumped in the garage.

At the same time, one doesn't like to go empty handed. That is how a firm believer of "minimum effort, maximum nutrition" got into baking. Me, who doesn't like making cabbage because it takes too long to cut it. Me, who doesn't make chapatis because rolling a belan is too much exertion. See, I have gone to so much trouble and actually beaten the batter 200-300 times with my egg beater!! (the recipes usually recommend beating things for 2+2 minutes at medium high. I assumed an rpm of approx. 200. But, I also assumed that each hand stroke is at least 3 times more efficient.)

Most normal kids like sweet things that look good, so no danger of it lasting even 10 days..

I am not going to list any recipes here. First, there are thousands of food blogs out there with fantastic recipes. Second, I always use cake mixes.
The first time I made a cake solo was a Pilsbury cake mix. Far from ideal, because it had at least 5 ingredients that sounded like they belonged in an inorganic chemistry lab; plus the usual trans fat.
May I suggest Dr.Oatker's. It's organic, made in Canada, and is free from partially hydrogenated oils and sulfites, sulfates, aluminates, phosphates, blah blah...
Plus the taste is really good. Be sure to use real butter and real milk in the recipes. And when it calls for oil, expeller pressed safflower oil works really well. It's not that expensive, and much better than canola oil.
Don't forget a good measuring cup. You get very nice glass ones for less than 3 bucks at Target. Plus, you can put butter in them and nuke it so you can be sure to use the correct quantity of butter!
My only recommendation is to check whether the final product is done 5 minutes before the recommended time. My brownies ended up a little hard around the edges and I had to cut off the sides.
I made vanilla cake today, and switched it off 5 mins before the recommended 30 mins was up. It came out really well. I also put a thick layer of chocolate icing on it, which was a big hit with the kid it was intended for. The icing is another interesting story. It said on the box that it was enough for 2 8-inch rounds. But I had a 9x13 rectangle. What would I do with the rest of the icing? A simple pen and paper calculation revealed that it would actually be less..So I did just fine :-D

Moral of the story, with a little common sense and patience, anything is possible. Even baking. If someone paid me $400 an hour, I could even learn to make good chapatis. (I can make chapatis even now; just don't ask me why they look like a map of Australia)


Ritu a.k.a. Joji!!! said...

Another interesting read! You'll have a lot of baking to do on your next visit!!! Mmmmmmmmmmmmm... that vanilla cake with chocolate icing reminds me of the one Amma baked on my 5th birthday.
P.S: Chapathis look a lot more interesting when made in different shapes!!! Happy blogging!

Anonymous said...

...the hand is mightier than the blade!! no wonder it gets done faster than the recommended time!
...You are funny!!
Happy New Year, 2007

sushmita said...

I envy the kid! So much experience and knowledge abt ingredients, cooking methods etc packed in a gift!