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Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Baked goods are for winners

I may have mentioned (several times) that I moved house a while back. Compared to our last place (which was about the size of a postage stamp), our new flat is positively palatial - and that means a whole new kitchen to fill with crap and get to know.

And it really does need getting to know! The oven is a bit of a loose cannon. If you try turning it on to 180C right away, it trips all the electrics in the flat and you're suddenly standing in the dark, without power. If you don't try and rush the oven into things - turn it on at 100C and ease it up slowly 15 or 20C at a time - it seems to prevent it a freak out. It's a time consuming process and you end up feeling like you're oven sitting! Even then, once it hits 180C, half the time it has a diva moment and shuts down anyway.

Which means if you want to cook anything at a high temperature - you know, at a temperature that might actually cook things - you have little hope of success. The oven says no, not for you. That makes it really hard to cook things like bread.

Still, some days, the oven gets to feeling more cooperative than others, and you can get something approaching a decent loaf out of it.

Here's one I made from this recipe for easy white bread on the BBC:


It turned out not too bad, freaky oven and all.

(By the way, if any of you are electricians and think my oven's tantrums are a sign it may blow up and take out my new kitchen, please let me know…)

Aside from the oven lottery, one of the delights of my new kitchen is the space - which I used up a nice chunk of recently by buying a big dehydrator. I've been dehydrating all sorts of veggies and even recently attempted some homemade flax crackers.

I managed to work a pretty darn good curried carrot version, but also had some minor flubs with a kale and tarragon combo (just say no!).

Can you guess which one I got a picture of though? I post it here as a warning to other cooks who may recklessly try to make similar crackers. Look upon my crackers, ye mighty, and tremble...


One way to ensure decent baked goods (or raw goods for that matter) is to buy them. While the Free From Bakehouse in Borough Market only does one vegan cupcake normally, it's a solid effort (and they're not far from work) so I like to keep them in business. Behold, the spiced plum cupcake:


I recently shared one of these with a cake-fiend friend, and she pronounced it one of the best cakes she'd had in a long time. Not sure I'd agree, but still, it can be no bad thing.

Elsewhere on the cake front, bad news: a while back the delightful Cat and the Cream cupcakes disappeared from London. This is a massive shame, as there were hands down the best vegan cupcakes around. Rumour has it that Cat and the Cream will return later this year, but until that happens, we're all slightly worse off in Vegan Land.

I normally picked up my Cat and the Cream cakes from Whole Foods. In their absence, Whole Foods has turned to a company I'd not heard of before, Trina's Delicacies, to fill the vegan void. The offering below was my first crack at their wares.

The verdict? Nice, but no Cat and the Cream. And at £3.50 though - about a third more expensive than the Cat and the Cream - it's a treat my stomach likes, but my wallet can't stomach.

14 comments:

  1. That cracker looks really impressive- regardless of how it may taste. You're going to force your legions of fans to buy dehydrators if you don't stop it. Have you tried the pastries that have been filling up the Vx case of late? They look so appealing.

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  2. Bummer about your tricky oven! I hate it when a favorite place goes out of business. Hopefully, your bakery will indeed pop back up.

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  3. Pretty jealous of your palatial kitchen. I have a postage stamp of a kitchen unfortunately and all the cupboards are stuffed to the brim. A lot of my dishes actually live in a corner of my living room instead!
    I'm not really a cupcake girl as I can't hack all the frosting so I'm not too fussed about the loss of Cat & the Cream. I definitely want a dehydrator though. Sadly off limits at the moment given the aforementioned kitchen...

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  4. Making friends with the oven is no small task. I'm still working out a deal with mine. Do you have a landlord who fixes things that are not working in a normal way? I agree with Abby that the cracker looks good, but since you were the one who tasted it, you get the last word. The texture looks spot on, though.

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  5. The crackers look great. I am tempted to get a dehydrater just to make them and kale chips. I don't know anything about electrics but I would try to get your oven checked out. I say this as we are in the middle of buying a lovely house that looked like nothing needed doing to it and the electrical survey came back with the electrician saying that it's the worst house he's ever seen with things put in upside down, lights that were melting, an unearthed shower, danger everywhere! Hopefully it'll be something simple to sort out but I'll be worrying about you Joey!

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  6. I'm sorry, I'm a worrier, I googled it! It sounds like it's quite a common problem and once it's identified exactly what is causing it fairly easy to fix
    http://www.ehow.com/info_12150587_double-oven-tripping-circuit-breaker-preheating.html
    http://www.mybuilder.com/questions/v/6372/oven-tripping-the-electricity-when-turned-on
    http://www.mybuilder.com/questions/v/6372/oven-tripping-the-electricity-when-turned-on

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  7. That sounds so frustrating about the oven! Hope you can fix it!
    meanwhile, who needs an oven when you have delicious cupcakes like the ones here? Spiced plum sounds incredible!

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  8. Bummer about the oven! But the bread looks good :)

    And the spiced plum cupcake sounds delicious :)

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  9. your bread looks so beautiful and even more impressive given your oven - it makes mine seem reliable (though mine just turns itself off every now and again - very annoying when I open up to see if something is cooked and it is just cooling down half cooked. And at least the dehydrator is a good way to avoid using the oven - buying cupcakes is even further removed from your oven - and they look gorgeous

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  10. That's too bad about your oven woes! It's so hard when you have things that you need for basic everyday tasks that you're always fighting to make work. I'm excited to hear about what you're making with your dehydrator. I still haven't gotten one; although, it's been on my wish list for years now. Maybe someday!

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  11. Beautiful bread, and it's all the more impressive considering your oven difficulties! The crosshatching pattern is nothing short of art. I've been craving a homemade crusty loaf like crazy lately, but have been too lazy to act on that urge. Thanks to your inspiring yeasted creation, I'm going to stop wasting time and start preheating my oven!

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  12. Amazing looking loaf of bread given your oven problems. No chance the landlord can get that fixed for you? Jealous of your new dehydrator, the kale chips look great even if the flavor is a little off. I'm getting to be quite a connoisseur of store bought vegan cupcakes too. :-)

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  13. Wow, that bread looks perfect, bakery window-ready!

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  14. Congratulations on moving to a fabulous home with a fabulous kitchen & plenty of space (I love lots of space)! Wishing all the very best settling in and making it your own! Ugh, I have that happened before, there’s an old industrial flat we stayed at (it used to be one of the oldest banks in Buenos Aires) and if we used a washer or an oven, everything else shuts down and we had to restart the power or use it one at a time! So I understand your frustration! :( Yay for a bread recipe from BBC and that white bread looks beautiful, as you know, I love reading recipes/articles from BBC, The Guardian and The Telegraph, they are so much better than the U.S. newspaper!

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