Baking Basics Part 1 - The Right Oven
Considering lot of my posts and recipe are about baking on this blog and baking is what really my love is its not surprising that I get a lot of questions about baking in emails and FB messages these days :) There are a lot of people out there who are waiting to try their hands at baking but don't know where to start from. When I get those emails I remember the time I took that journey clueless about what to do and how I would spend hours googling and how I did spoil a lot of things before I really got it right. A lot of people asked me to share the basics of baking, how to start etc etc, so with this post today I am starting a series called Baking Basics where I will take you through some basics that can give you a kick start to what I am sure will be a lifelong journey :)
One of the most common questions I get from readers and friends is what oven I use in my house for baking. What is the right oven for them? How do they get started what all they'll need. So in the first past of baking basics we would look at oven that has to be the first step to start anyways.
While chosing an oven one has many options that we can choose, let me take you through them.
OTG aka Oven Toaster Griller : This is the option that is most commonly used in homes. It basically a device which bakes, toasts and grills using the heating rod on top and bottom on the oven. Its pretty close to the age old baking done using heat. Like I said there are rods on top and bottom of the oven and the mode of cooking is controlled by which rods are heating. In case of baking only the bottom rods gets heated, in the grill mode its the top rod which gets heated and both the rods work in the toast mode.
Note : Read this intersting bit on how OTG came into existence actually from a pop up toaster :)
Convection Microwave Oven : Microwaves traditionally cook food by using electro magnetic waves and not heat rods. Convection Microwave is a fusion product which uses a combination of the standard microwave and the convection oven which uses the circulation of hot gas for cooking/baking. Convection microwaves are not a very old product in the market but they are making quite a leap already. It can be used for heating food, cooking, baking and grilling too.
Gas Tandoor : This is the oven my mom used to bake with, I have eating many soft cakes baked in it. One keeps it on top of the gas and puts the cake tin on the wire rack provided along with. It also works with the heat just as OTG. However this one is not so common anymore because safety is a major issue with it, also one can't control the temperature we set in it accurately which is a big negative point for baking.
Cooking Ranges - They come with both electrical and gas options for the Oven, the oven in this works brilliantly well however the constraint usually is the space and the prize.
So these are more or less the options you have for home baking. There might be some more but these are the most common ones. And there are pros and cons in all of them as I mentioned above.
So unless you are setting up a new kitchen and want to buy a cooking range your options more or less are to choose between the convection microwave or an OTG. I use an OTG have been using it for past 7 years now. I also have a convection based microwave and I have experimented my baking in both the options. Personally I think nothing beats the results of baking you get from the oven and microwave doesn't really stand anywhere close to it. However I have several friends who say they bake in the convection microwave and are happy with it.
So in nutshell my suggestion is if you are going to be an occasional baker and space is a constraint convection microwave oven will do for u, buy one device and use it wisely but if you are thinking of taking up baking as a hobby invest in a good OTG, they are not very expensive anyways. There are many sizes available and buy the one that suits you, for most home users anywhere between 18 ltrs to 25 ltrs should be a good enough size.
I am using a morphy richards from 7 years and apart from one time recently it hasn't given me any trouble so I strongly recomend that (and no they haven't paid me for this post :P)
Coming up Baking basics 2 - Pans and more.