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.