Baking is a joy.It’s a stress buster and almost an art form.Its such a joy to see simple ingredients turn into something spectacular inside an oven.Its a shame that baking as a cooking method hasn’t really caught on in india.The sole purpose of me writing this blog is to educate and initiate more people into baking.
Once you get the mechanics of it you will realise how convenient it is.In my opinion,baking easier than cooking on a stove top and definitely more useful than microwaving food(microwave just zaps the food and strips it of all its nutrients-read my post on it here).It mimics a traditional clay oven or a tandoor in the way it cooks food.You can set the temperature,time and direction of the heat based on what you want to bake.
Baking doesn’t only mean making cakes and cookies, there is a whole lot more you can do with your oven.Anything that you would usually fried can be made in an oven with minimal oil instead.I almost never fry my potato fries.I even make my banana chips in it.You can roast a chicken or bake an egg or cookies(5 healthy cookies you must make!)or fish or make sundried tomatoes at home or make a roasted tomato sauce(my favourite!,Check the whole post here) for your pasta.I even make chips and savoury crisps in it now.
Its understandable if you are wary of it cause it requires a fair bit of investment but you can start slow and build it up.You don’t have to stock your kitchen with hundreds of pots and pans.Go slow.Buy basic good quality pans and go from there.
First things first-How to Select an Oven.
Definitely don’t buy anything that doesn’t have temperature, direction and time settings.I am speaking from experience here.My mother has one of those tiny toy looking ovens without a temperature setting and you cant do a whole lot with it.Buy an oven which can accommodate at-least 20 litres otherwise it will be too small to use most standard baking pans like the 12 cavity cupcakes.
I have been using Morphy Richards oven for the past 6 years and I love it.It has a transparent door so I can see how the food is getting cooked.It has three rack settings and a rotisserie option too.I have made countless pizzas, roast chicken and cakes in it.
If you know you are going to be doing a lot of baking and will need to cook multiple things at the same time I suggest you buy this.
Once you have the oven set up you will need a few basic pans and trays.Plastic and Steel usually dont work in an oven. Borocillate,clay or ceramic and aluminium work well in an oven.I like uncoloured aluminium pans the best because they age well and can be used for a longer period of time.
Some good brands for oven ware is Borosil,Nordicware and Wilton.Most of these are easily available in India on online sites and big stores though they are a lot more costly.You can get the same products for less than third the cost in USA.
Usually ovens come with atleast one tray which can be used to make cookies, roast chicken etc.Other than this you would need a muffin pan(1,2,3),a baking Dish(1,2,3), and some round cake pans(1,2,3).I also love baking cakes in bundt pans(1,2,3,4).Nordic-ware does the best bundt pans.I also love my lodge multipurpose cast iron pan that I can use on the stove top and inside the oven.
Most basics cakes can mixed together using a fork and a balloon whisk which you can find in any local shop.Most probably you might already have one at home but if you want to make frostings and whip up egg whites for macaroons and sponge cake you will need a handheld machine.I have been using Morphy Richards(here) hand whisk since I started baking but Bajaj(here) and prestige(here) are also good.Kitchen aid hand whisk(here) and stand mixer(Here) are very high on my covet list.
Other Important items needed for baking are a Spatula(1,2) so that you can scoop out all of your batter and put in the baking pan.A brush to brush you chicken with some sauce or oil. Baking paper(1,2) so that you cake doesn’t stick to the pan.Aluminium foil so that you can stop the top of the cake or dish from over browning but continue the cooking process inside.
Here are some beginner recipes for you to try.