January has been a busy month filled with baking and frustration with the new-to-me-yet-old-to-our-house oven which has no temperature or oven settings remaining on it. Leaving the delicate science of oven temperature in the lap of the gods or in my case the sizzle of the grill.
This month I have successfully
- set fire to my oven gloves and a pan lid!
- grilled a puff pastry pie
- charred a cake that took me 4 hours to make
- threw 5 inedible cakes away – even Super Hans turned his nose up at them and he has been know to eat raw sourdough starter when it’s been dropped on the floor
- and sobbed silently at the oven window glued to my newly purchased thermometer checking the temperature hasn’t yet reached ‘towering inferno stage’ and frazzled my Madelines.
I must admit I considered throwing the fiery beast in the bin, but the bin isn’t quite big enough… so back to patiently burning my cakes and starting over, and over, I went.
I guess this oven is a bit like baking with an Aga? (Having never used an Aga I may be making this up) I put my limited Aga knowledge to good use and attempted to control the heat by placing extra baking tins in the oven, to protect my precious cakes from the uncovered elements in the oven and ward off the extra hot spots. Adding tin foil hats to my cakes wherever possible to guard against the scorch. If you have any suggestions on how to bake in a small, yet very hot, electric fan oven please send them my way!
Undeterred I continued and eventually managed to bake some edible and rather lovely cakes, although I had to admit defeat on some of the more delicate bakes. It seems I shall be baking only robust cakes and breads that can withstand the heat until I can get to grips with the animal in my kitchen.
This month I’ve taken the opportunity to recreate some of my most favourite around the world in 80 bakes with a slightly new twist. Mainly that I have crammed as many international elements and Middle Eastern flavours that I could possibly think of into one cake. And the result? My 4 layer Iranian Pistachio Cake with cardamom; home made lemon curd, Turkish Delight and Rose Italian Meringue. Which means I finally conquered the ever elusive Turkish Delight using a very good Rachel Allan recipe. I even treated myself to 2 new cake tins that are the same size! Unheard of in my house, so now I can actually make cakes that sandwich together. Hurrah! I predict there will be many more layered cakes in my future.
I also re imagined my Armenian Gluten Free Orange and Almond Cake into a bundt cake with ribbons of orange blossom icing and home made candied peel. Much less syrupy than my last attempt with thick piped glace icing which gave a great sweet contrast to the slightly bitter orange and almond cake.
Thanks for reading and I hope January is treating you well. I’m looking forward to hopefully baking not burning some new and exciting international recipes very soon.
Your orange cake looks lovely the perfect time of year for it! Good luck mastering your oven – my old cottage has an ancient electric oven, that isn’t fan assisted & it has taken a while for us to see eye to eye! And we do still fall out…..
Thanks so much Laura. It’s so tricky mastering a new oven. Is a non fan oven quite hot too? I’ve managed to bake a chiffon cake at the weekend which thankfully didn’t burn! But then my sourdough was perfect charcoal. Hopefully I’ll get the hang if it soon! X
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Light coloured cake tins make a huge difference to how quickly cakes bake and the colour they are on the outside once done in the middle. The lighter coloured metal conducts the heat differently (I think – there is probably a more technical explanation!). When I have had reason to use old, dark spring form cake tins it bakes the cakes differently and not as gently as the solid, light coloured metal professional cake tins. So if you use extra baking trays to sit cakes on this helps too but again they should be light coloured metal. Hope that helps though sorry if you already tried it! I have a gas oven at home that tends to cook things very gently and slowly with bottom heat only so I have the opposite problem!
Thank you so much. That’s a very good top tip. I hadn’t thought about the tins that I’m using but luckily I’ve just invested in 2 anodised tins. Perfect! Thanks again
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