Saturday, 1 February 2014

Batch Baking

My oven is so large that I really never want to light it unless I can totally fill it.  So, batch baking is the way forward.  Batch baking takes a bit of organisation and forward planning but it's worth it to save money on fuel and in the long run, time too.

I started by choosing my recipes.  They could be any sort of cake but they must have one thing in common - the cooking temperature.  I chose two citrus cakes (lemons and oranges are at their best over winter) and an almond cake.  All baked at 190C.  Both almonds and citrus fruits grow in Spain and although this year we had very few almonds and the price of them in the shops is quite expensive, normally both citrus and almonds are cheap and plentiful.

I prepared the baking tins and lined them up ready.

I weighed the ingredients for the first cake and began mixing.

Once the cake mix was done I put it into the tin and left it on the kitchen work surface.  With some cake mixes it is best to get them into the oven straight away, but other's can happily sit for a little while before baking, without any harm at all.

I organised things so that I only had to wash up the bowl between each cake mix and I left the almond cake until last because it contained beaten egg whites and they collapse if you leave them to sit for too long.

The middle cake was a bit unusual - the recipe (from Leiths Baking Bible) stipulated semolina (quite a lot of semolina) but I only had ground rice, so I figured I could substitute, it seems to have worked.

As I began to mix the third and final cake I preheated the oven and just as the cake was ready the oven was at temperature.

Alas the oven is so large that when you open the door a huge amount of heat escapes and the oven thermometer dropped all the way down to 160C , 30C below what it should be.  This meant that the timings were going to be all wrong.  I set the timer for the cake that should have taken the least amount of time.

When it pinged I checked the cake and as predicted it was still not ready but the other two were almost cooked....  If you are prepared to be flexible and keep an eye on your cakes you can usually be assured of a reasonably successful outcome.  Another few minutes and all three cakes were ready.

While the oven was hot I made some cheesy snacks... cheese pastry with various extra flavourings (sweet chilli, oregano, onion seed) cut into tiny shapes and then baked with a sprinkling of salt.  (Six Nations rugby begins this weekend and hubby has to have something to nibble with his beer in front of the tv).

If I'd been even more organised I could have squeezed in a batch of biscuits or scones at the same time but alas I was not as clever as I thought!

The two citrus cakes have lemon and orange syrup poured onto them while still warm.  The one with ground rice in it is definitely a different texture, perhaps more like a pudding than a cake, certainly once I had fed it all the syrup.

All in all, I am rather pleased with the days baking.  Now to decide which ones go in the freezer and which to eat first!

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