Diwali is over but I am not yet back to my routine. After a lot of travel and being sick, today I wanted to be back to normal. For me being normal means I need to write a post in my blog. This series of posts has been in my mind for long but I kept on postponing for the fear that I may not do justice. But still I gathered enough courage today to start the series. I would never say that I know about baking as it is a vast ocean and what I know may be are some tiny drops of that ocean. I just wanted to share with you all what I know about basics of baking. Every day I get mails and messages asking me about baking. So I thought of putting it all together for everyone else to read. Hope I do justice. Please feel free to ask for any doubts and I will be glad to clarify it for you. To start the series, I will start with the most important gadget of baking – Oven. It is not that you cannot bake with out oven. There are so many ways to bake a cake with out oven but oven makes your job easier. I will be talking of OTG in this post. So here is the first in the series – Baking Basics – Oven
OTG – short form for Oven Toaster and Griller is the most essential gadget you need if you want to take baking seriously. An OTG has two filaments one on top and one on the bottom. It also has three racks to place your baking trays. There are three dials , one for temperature settings, one for function settings and the third a timer. Please bear with my oven photos as my oven is so old that it is not very neat and tidy.
This is the temperature control knob. The minimum temperature you can set is 100°C. The maximum tempearature would be 250°C. Usually 100°C is used for macroons. If you want to dry something in oven when there is no sunlight you can set the oven to 100°C and place it inside with the oven door partially open to have the same effect. 150°C – 180°C are used for cake baking and 200°C is used for bread baking. When baking pizza, you can set the temperature to its maximum – 250°C. These are the basic settings. But every oven is different and you need to know your oven befroe trying out recipes. Some ovens are hotter and you need to decrease the temperature. And if using black coloured trays or tins, you might need to decrease the temperature by 5-10°C. When using a fan forced oven / conventional oven, you need to decrease 20° to get good results. If the recipe suggests 200°C, then you need to set the oven to 180°C.
Next comes the function knob. In my oven there are 5 functions.
Warm: The temperature is maintained to a minimum so that you can place your food in oven to to keep it warm without cooking it further.
Grill/ broil : The top filament is on and to use this feature, place the food on the top most rack. Only the top most part of the food browns. This is usually used to get good browning on top of cakes and breads. After baking it with the usual settings, the dish is usually placed on the top rack and grilled until you get the desired colour.
Rotisserie: I have not used this function from the day I got this oven as I am not into roasting chickens. There is a rod in which whole chicken is fixed and roasted. The rod rotates and the chicken roasts evenly.
Toast: The lower filament is on for this function. The food is placed on the lower rack for this function. You can easily toast bread slices with this function.
Bake: This is the function in which both the filaments are on and the food is kept at the middle rack for even baking. All cakes, cookies, muffins and breads are baked this way.
Next comes the timer. This makes your job easier. If you are going to bake cakes for 45 minutes, then set the timer to 60 minutes. The extra 15 minutes is for preheating. Or if your dish needs more than 60 minutes of baking, then set the timer to always on and keep note of time.
This is the top most filament in the oven.
To save the filament from spills, there is a drip tray. Always keep this tray to prevent the filament from drips.After explaing to you all the parts and functions of the oven, I would like to give some more pointers to make baking easier.
Always preheat oven for 15 minutes before you put the dish inside.
When baking a cake do not open the oven door for the first 20 minutes as it will disrupt the baking process.
Know your oven. You just can’t blindly follow a recipe without knowing the oven.
Adjust the temperature according to the oven type before baking.
Decide which function you need for the dish. Before placing the dish inside do not forget to adjust the function settings and temperature. I have done this mistake so many times. Using baking while you need toasting will greatly affect the final result of the dish.
Do not forget to check Baking Basics – Tools
Hope this post was helpful. Do share your thoughts…
My other posts in the Baking Basics Series: