Baking is a joy.It’s a stress buster and almost an art form.It’s such a joy to see simple ingredients turn into something spectacular inside an oven.It’s 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 is 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).Baking 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 and how you want it to cook.
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 fry can be made in an oven with minimal oil instead.I almost never fry my potato fries,always bake it.I even make my banana chips in the oven.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 ) for your pasta.I even make chips and savoury crisps in it now.
It’s 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 setting.I am speaking from experience here.My mother has one of those tiny toy looking ovens without a temperature setting and you can’t 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.
My suggestions are-
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.Most ovens come with a tray, cooling rack and crumb sheet so you only need one proper pan to start making cakes or bakes in it.Plastic and Steel usually don’t 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 bakeware are 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 here than abroad.You can get the same products for less than third the cost in USA.
Basic Bakeware to buy
Usually ovens come with atleast one tray which can be used to make cookies, roast chicken etc.You would need at-least one multi purpose cake pan which can be used for baking cakes and also for roasting.Other than this, if you are really into it, 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 in a large bowl 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.
Most important baking accessory is measuring cups and spoons.
Other Important items needed for baking are a rubber 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.
Tricks and Tips to Bake
The first tenet of baking is measurement,atleast while baking cakes and cookies.Most sweet recipes are precisely controlled chemical reactions which need proper measurement.
The easiest way to measure is using measuring cups and spoons.The measuring cups are not random chai cups but actual measuring cups available very easily in kitchen equipment stores.
The right way to measure is to fill the cup till the top and level with a spoon.
Beginner Baking Recipes
Try these recipes if you are new at baking.They are super simple to start with.