Sunday, February 28, 2010

Half-Baked No More

Baking has been around since the dawn of time. There are pictures of bakeries depicted in ancient Egyptian tombs. Larousse Gastronomique cites the baker as the oldest of the food professions. As long as humans have ground grain into flour, we have been baking.

Baking is in my DNA. My grandmothers both baked and my mother provided me with my early training. I remember an elementary school homework project where I baked a simple butter cookie called Petticoat Tails. Somewhere in my unwieldy files, I still have the handwritten recipe sketched out in my expressive grammar school penmanship.

I love the tactile feel of baking, the soothing rhythmic motions, and the sensual aroma of anticipation that fills the room. Early on, I became quite fond of licking the beaters. I own so many different types of baking pans that the closet where they are stored resembles an abstract work of art.

I grew up using a gas oven, and I was more than a little dismayed to discover when I moved into my house that the oven was electric. For the first time in my life, I started to experience “baking flops.” The temperature was never right, and forget about browning. The oven was temperamental to say the least. Cakes looked pale and anemic, and there were times when cakes would fall, or even burn. There were too many times when I was forced to throw out the first attempt and start all over again. Eventually I learned to develop a certain empathy with the electric oven and produced some pretty good results, including a popular line of Retro Cakes.
I love the tactile feel of baking, the soothing rhythmic motions, and the sensual aroma of anticipation that fills the room.
But life in the kitchen is all about the journey and now I have traveled back to baking with gas. The electric oven is just a memory, replaced with a shiny new Viking Stove.

It’s a gentle giant with a traditional baking setting and one for convection baking as well. Handing someone like me a convection baking setting is like giving someone who writes on a chalk board an IPad, just to see what will happen. I may actually have to read the instruction manual.

This Apple Crumb Pie is one of my first forays into the brave new world of baking in a gas oven. The raisins plump up from the juice of the apples, and I’m kind of reveling in the golden bronze color and the delicate, buttery crunch of the crumb topping – something I wasn’t able to achieve with an electric oven.

I’ve got gas, and it’s a good thing.

©2010 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved


Fresh Local and Best said...

Congratulations on the new oven! It's beautiful! I've never baked in an electric oven, and did not realize the related challenges. The apple crumb pie looks absolutely sumptuous. I look forward to seeing more baking successes.

John Barritt said...

Congrats on the new baby! She's a beauty.


Julia said...

I would have never guessed from previous posts that you didn't like your oven. Everything always looked delicious!

Interesting what you say about gas vs. electric -- I've had the former for about 15 years, but always heard that electric was better for baking because it's more consistent.

Congrats on the new stove! I know you're thrilled.

Rosemary Flannery said...

Apple crumb looks yummy, but I think we need to talk about that baking pan cabinet!


A Feast for the Eyes said...

I smiled throughout this whole post. You have the same yellow bundt pan that I do! I can't part with it, but it eats up my cakes. LOL As for the Wolf Stove-- lucky you! Wow! What a gorgeous piece of equipment (turning green). Last-- apple pie isn't my favorite, but your version really makes me want to make it. I like apples, but maybe I haven't found the right recipe, until now.
Baking is definitely therapy for me. I love it, and I'm thankful that I do have a gas oven. Enjoy and I look forward to seeing more posts on what your new baby makes for you.

Mary said...

Oh, my God. You have just destroyed me with that oven. It's too gorgeous for words. The pie looks great, too. I can't wait to see what else you are able to make with this new toy.
Only greatness will do :-).

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

It's a thing of beauty, that Viking, and I know you will have many beautiful evenings together. Congratulations!

Kalyn said...

Woot! I love the new stove. My stove has gas/convection oven too and I can't wait to bake with it. Look forward to seeing what you'll make.

Anonymous said...

That is one muscular piece of metal. After that pressure cooker post last week and installing this beast in the kitchen, it is apparent that you are one burner away from dehydrating tomatoes. Some get a straightjacket!

Stacey Snacks said...

Congratulations on your new baby!
I want one too! (not a baby, a new oven!!!)

Liz said...

First, I love that you showed us the interior - hilarious. Second, I am jealous! My oven isn't level and it is driving me NUTS. Plus which, the knobs fall off whenever I so much as look at them and the temperature gauge is retarded. Hmmm ... that may be all the justification I need!

Velva said...

Now, that is a stove! I never thought about a gas oven vs an electric oven. Yet, I prefer a gas stove top and would only go back to an electric stove top kicking and screaming.
If that stunning pie is the result of your new Viking. I am green with envy because that is as closest to perfect as it is going to get- Awesome.

Sophie said...

Waw,...what a grand oven this is!! Have fun with it!!

You have a lovely foodblog!!

The apple crumb pie looks so tasty!!


Many greetings from Brussels, belgium!

~~louise~~ said...

Oh you lucky boy!!! The new house has an electric oven and I am NOT happy about it!!! Not only do I have a problem with baking, which now I can officially blame on the electric oven, it is a pain in the you know what when it comes to making pudding.

It was a toss up between gas or a new shed. I went with the shed this year but I'm hoping to switch to gas in the future.

Thanks for sharing, T.W. that pie looks fabulous!!!

tasteofbeirut said...

I admit I am envious! I have wanted a gas oven forever and especially this Viking! Wow! Now you have to bake every day, no excuse! Great pie, by the way

veron said...

T.W. what a wonderful post to come back to! there is nothing more exciting than a new oven!!! Congratulations! Your apple crumb pie looks mouthwatering! Love your collection of pans. :)

Helene said...

What a beautiful stove. I like that you said that 'Baking is in my DNA'. I feel that baking is part of my life. I did start baking really young and love it too. Beautiful crumb pie.

Lynnette said...

Congratulations on the new oven. I must admit I am envious of the oven not the cabinet! The apple crumb pie is just georgous as is all you do! Happy baking!

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

That is beautiful... both the pie and the oven.

What's cooking now?

Juliana said...

Nice apple crumb pie, would to have it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream...yummie! I have a counter top convection oven and love it :-)

Susan from Food Blogga said...

She's a beauty, TW! As for licking the beaters. I did that last week when I was baking chocolate cake. It was the best part. No doubt about it.