Saturday, January 7, 2017

Thinking Outside the (Oven) Box

A way I typically cope with homesickness is through baking. It's my favorite thing to give as a gift or a just-thinking-about-you sort of thing. Since, unlike running or hiking, it's something I can do while very pregnant, it's something I've missed more than normal lately as I near the 37 week mark. (Think of all of the postpartum freezer meals you've seen that require an oven... Much of it just doesn't work well without it.)

Ovens are rare in this side of the world. The expense of the gas, lack of many traditional baked things, and cheap bakeries for the things you do want baked, keep many from exploring this style of cooking. Some of the newer apartments that are aimed towards foreigners (you can tell by the prices) include an oven, but it's definitely not mainstream.

This doesn't mean, however that everything baked is impossible to make; you just have to think about cooking it in a different way: cookies flipped in a skillet pancake-style, a double boiler with brownies in a pot, microwave mug cakes or pudding, finding different ways to make similar flavors when something just won't work... It's all possible.

The gas ovens that typically ARE available here are very gas-inefficient, non-convection and have lots of places for the heat to escape. This means a recipe that normally takes 10 minutes in an electric/convection oven takes more like 30 minutes and is likely to have the bottom burned and the top not browned. Our gracious landlords gave us one they weren't using and we found out for ourselves just how quickly it could go through a 3 foot canister of gas. (About 3 weeks, instead of the normal 3 months, baking about 4 times and otherwise doing normal stovetop cooking.)

In India, a unique solution to baking on a stove top is a type of double-boiler- like pot that I haven't seen before: the bottom pot holds salt or sand to evenly disperse the heat and the top pot is greased and then filled with anything from cake to pizza crust and cooked over (usually) a medium flame.
Here is a favorite chocolate mug cake that we make with the kids for a special occasion. It makes enough for 4 small mugs, (it rises so only fill halfway.) We got the recipe here: And modified it because we didn't have self-rising flour.

2 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup flour
1pinch of salt
Powdered sugar to sprinkle on top

Microwave one minute then let it sit until cool enough to enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. I really admire your attitude and willingness to adjust to sometimes less than desirable situations. I love you! Thank you for sharing your experiences. :)