I love to cook. More specifically, I love to bake, and so I bought a toaster oven. It’s not anything like the ovens in the west – it’s a more like a gigantic toaster – hence the name. I’m pretty experienced with a convection oven – but learning how to bake in a toaster oven is like starting from scratch!
Toaster ovens use top and bottom heating elements, plus mine has a fan (and a rotisse, just in case I need to get a rotator-roast on the go. One day maybe). I know this sounds like a normal oven, but it doesn’t cook like one! To start with, everything I baked came out over cooked on the top and bottom and uncooked in the middle. Yuk – I’m not a fan of raw cake. The toaster oven casing (is that the right term? I’m not sure) is made from very thin metal, so I think part of the problem is that it can’t maintain a steady temperature. This also means that it gives off a lot of heat, not ideal for an already tropically hot kitchen!!
I’m used to a certain amount of cake fails, it goes with the territory of creating gluten free recipes, but for a while there I stopped baking. It wasn’t the recipes that I was trying out, it was the oven itself! I did research online and the only suggestion I found was to put an extra baking tray above and below the item to be baked, to regulate the temperature. I tried it but this just slowed down the baking process, it still didn’t help cook the middles. So I just stuck with making tray bakes or cupcakes, anything under 3cm was passable, but still not great.
Then more recently I’ve been enthused to bake again, and this time I’m determined to win. First up I got an oven thermometer. This basic piece of equipment revealed the temperature was varying by up to 20C!!! That was a big surprise! So now I could watch the gauge, and adjust the temperature. But I also had to be able to maintain the right temperature too. I considered building a brick surround for it (yes, seriously) kinda like those home made BBQ’s you see. I did however concede that it may look a bit odd in the middle of the floor of the lounge, and also be tricky to clean. So instead I tried other insulation methods. Finally, the best I can do right now is to place all my unused baking trays directly on top of the oven. This has slowed down the amount of thermostat clicks, and therefore temp fluctuations a lot. Note – the whole outside casing gets hot to touch, so only use oven proof bake ware to do this!! And be sure to move anything plastic at least 30 cm away lest you accidentally melt it….
And the reason I’ve been thinking about cake more than usual is I’ve been considering selling cake, rather than eating it (which is obviously a huge improvement for my waistline)….I’ve rambled on far too long already, so more on this scrumptious development soon….