Last Saturday, I bought a 42L Faber table-top electric oven. We chose the biggest one after comparing all the electric ovens that they had in the store and figured with the SenQ Member discount, it was the best value-for-money oven that they had there (for that size) for below RM400. I knew that with a table-top oven, I'd have a harder time getting used to the heat distribution, because it's slightly different from built-in ovens. A very informative and lengthy article in the Star online also warned me about this. I'd have to practice, practice, practice before I got it right.
Usually, when I bake anything using the ovens that my parents had in the 5 houses that they've lived in in the past 10 years or so, everything comes out right. Rarely does something come out not right. I'm usually very pleased with my baking skills. And each oven was different. And I never had any problems with the heating or whatever with any of those ovens. And we baked kuih raya and chocolate cake and orange cake every year for Hari Raya using those ovens. And not to mention pizzas, lasagnes, mac & cheese, whatever. But when I brought my Faber oven home, I was a little apprehensive. Because it's not a built-in unit. I knew that these portable ovens are a little harder to discipline, they don't usually do the things you ask them to do. And then the one thing I didn't like was that the temperature dial did not display both Celsius and Fahrenheit temperatures. I liked my mother's previous oven that had showed the temperatures for both of those, because most of the recipes I want to try out are American, and our ovens in Asia are metric.
I was really excited to try out Jessica Seinfeld's recipe for banana bread with cauliflower puree. If it's baked right, your family won't even know you snuck in some vegetables in their dessert! The recipe however was in Fahrenheit, and I had to estimate the suitable equivalent baking temperature in Celsius. Nevertheless, I pre-heated my oven to the temperature I estimated. I whipped up the batter, and everything looked and felt right. I poured it into my cake tray and popped it in the oven. Usually, I just wait for how ever many minutes it says in the recipe, and everything turns out fine. After 50 minutes, I saw that the colour looked right on top, but when I stuck my fork in (I didn't have a toothpick), I found that the batter was not cooked yet! Yikes. I knew that this was temperature problem. Either it was too hot, or not hot enough. The outside cooked faster than the inside. The heat was probably not evenly distributed. I left it in for some more minutes. When I couldn't wait any longer (cos the outside was getting browner and browner) I took the tray out. When the cake had cooled a bit, I cut it up. And it was just not baked right. Part of it was cake, and part of it was still goo. Hmm… I threw it out, because it was just simply not edible, and I told my husband that it ended up looking like a huge cekodok (fried banana balls that have a very dark burnt exterior, but very soft yummy interior). Banana bread should not look like cekodok. (I realise now that I should have taken photos to show you readers, but then I was so pissed off, I just threw the thing into the trash.)
To get the baking temperature right, next I will try to bake my mac & cheese or lasagne or ziti, which is baked in a transparent dish, and that way I can see if the contents are cooking at the right speed for that temperature or not. Only then I will know if 180 degrees Celsius is really 180 degrees Celsius. But I haven't bought the ingredients yet. So save that for next weekend.
However, I did manage to use the cauliflower puree in macaroni & cheese (the type that I don't have to bake. I only bake the type that has meat in it). Salma loved it. She ate it all up. And I even managed to store some in small portions in the freezer for future meals! So I was really proud of myself for that. At least she got to eat some vegetables in the end. But I would have preferred her to have it also in the banana bread, which she can have as a snack anytime, as opposed to macaroni & cheese, which she can only have at lunch or dinner.