Baking Essentials For The Baking Enthusiast

Owning a kitchen filled with the latest appliances and gadgets is a dream for most baking enthusiasts. Who wouldn’t like a sleek stand mixer to make the fluffiest meringues or a blow torch for creme brulee? However, some appliances are too expensive and are not feasible for an amateur baker to procure. While you can make do without a few niche items, there are something that a budding baker must have in their arsenal. Owning a kitchen filled with the latest appliances and gadgets is a dream for most baking enthusiasts. Who wouldn’t like a sleek stand mixer to make the fluffiest meringues or a blow torch for creme brulee? However, some appliances are too expensive and are not feasible for an amateur baker to procure. While you can make do without a few niche items, there are something that a budding baker must have in their arsenal.

  • Oven:

Baking is impossible without a good oven. The oven can be a gas oven, electrical oven, microwave oven or even an OTG oven. All types of ovens have their pros and cons and features that may be useful. A gas or electric oven maybe suitable if you bake very frequently and in bulk amounts, while the convection setting on a microwave oven is best suited for the occasional home baker. If you fit in neither category then an OTG is a great idea as it blends the space saving and low price feature of the microwave oven with the higher capacity and better control of the in-built oven.

  •  Hand blender or stand mixer:

Most of us drool at the thought of a sleek stand mixer adorning our kitchen that makes whipped cream, meringues and more, but stand mixers can be prohibitively expensive, instead a hand blender is easy to use, can do the same work with a little more effort and is priced extremely reasonably. A heavy duty hand blender can do wonders for your baking experiments from creaming butter for your cakes to transforming egg whites into foam.

  • Balloon whisk:

Even if you already have a hand blender, a balloon whisk is important for the kitchen. It helps in whisking liquids, eggs, etc. It is also great for folding in the flour for cakes that use whipped egg whites like chiffon cakes without losing the volume of the egg whites.

  • Ramekins:

A must for any baker who wishes to make souffles, mousses and creme brulees, ramekins are pretty little bowls that one can bake and serve in.

  • Measuring items:

Cups, spoons, dry and wet. One must have one of each type of measuring items at hand. Baking requires precise measurements and often the difference between a disaster and a masterpiece is a simple measuring error

  • Baking parchment:

Used to line the insides of your baking tin or sheet, baking parchment is a special type of paper that will help you easily remove cakes and cookies after baking.

  • Baking tins:

Baking tins can be of many varieties, ranging from loaf pans to bunt tins, muffin tins, pie tins or trays. Each type of tin fulfils its special purpose and it is ideal to have at least one of each type and failing that at least one regular tin and one baking tray. For making cheesecakes get a spring form pan with a removable bottom.

Great baking needs practice and patience and quality baking equipment is an essential element to make great bakes. While there is a great choice in some equipment choices, like gas oven vs OTG oven, most equipment mentioned here are a must for any baker who wishes to transform the way they bake.

Energy Efficiency Tips

Be more energy efficient in one’s home with these simple steps. Be more energy efficient in one’s home with these simple steps.

1.Save water Judicious consumption of water will lower one’s water bill. Limiting the usage of electric water heater or gas for heating the water not only can be more economical but also save energy. Frequent check of all faucets, pipes and toilets for leaks and installation of water saving shower heads and ultra-low-flush toilets would avoid wastage of water.

2. Cooking Gas vs Electricity Reduce the load of your electricity grid by using gas for cooking and heating instead of electricity, as gas cooking stoves create less overall heat that electric stoves. Cooking on gas stoves induces controllable heat which is immediate, precise and helps the oven to quickly heat up as compared to electric stove.

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3. Painting the roof with reflective paint Painting the roof with reflective paint or putting white tiles can reduce the heat flow into the building from the roof. Cool roof leads to reduced building heat-gain and helps in reducing the temperature inside rooms by 3-4°C. It also helps in decreasing the energy consumed by ACs and cooler price paid for this is a fraction of the saving that could come your way.

4. Solar Solar water heating system converts the sunlight (solar power) into heat for water heating using a solar thermal collector. It is a cost effective replacement for the electric geyser, as it transmits the heat to the water. Most solar water heating systems requires less maintenance and the water can be used for various household activities, thus making it quite economical. Solar water heater systems  are lightweight and compact in size.

5. Light bulbs Energy saving incandescent and, CFL bulbs & LED’s ( light emitting diodes) save about 25%  and 75% of energy respectively. They are the most popular ways of reducing energy in every household. CFL bulbs not only saves energy but also goes well with the interior decor and ambience of the house since it comes in warmer colours, diffuse filters and focused lighting design. Although CFL & LED bulbs are quite expensive, however the investments made in the beginning helps in saving a lot of electricity bill which adds to future savings.

6. Energy efficient appliances.Research has proven that purchase decisions are largely driven by the cost of owning the appliance ( paid at the time of purchase) and we tend to overlook the cost of using the appliance ( paid in installments in the electricity bill).A three star rated appliance can reduce energy consumption by about 20% in a house. Similarly a five star rated appliance can reduce energy consumption by about 30%. Any star-energy rated gadget or equipment can produce some significant power savings. Further usage of air coolers instead of air conditioners can significantly add to the energy saving. In fact cooler price is also low so you only save money in the long run.

7. Use maximum day light Turning off lights during the day and maximum use of daylight can reduce the burden on local power grid and can also by in large economical.

8. Switch off appliances when not in use Electric appliances like coffee machine, microwave, television, desktop computer keep on using electricity and energy even when not in use. Organisations have saved millions of dollars by asking their employees to shut down their desktop computers after office hours.

Simple Kitchen Hacks

I love kitchen hacks! They save so much time and energy in the kitchen that it is almost unbelievable! Ever since I discovered them I have started enjoying cooking even more. Just zip, zap, zoom and I am out! Here are a few hacks that really help me in the kitchen:

  • Keep a damp towel under the chopping board to prevent slippage:

This is by far my favourite hack. Slippery chopping boards apart from being unsafe also make it difficult to finely chop vegetables. Keeping a damp towel underneath the board prevents it from slipping and makes chopping a breeze.

  • Buy a food processor:

Ok, so this is not technically a hack, but it makes life in the kitchen so easy that it almost should be one! Deciding to buy Morphy Richards food processor was by far the best decision I have ever made. It makes my life so easy in the kitchen by helping me choping, slice, grate, blend, whisk, shred and more!

  • Reheating pasta the right way:

Leaving a small space in the middle of the plate while reheating pasta ensures even heating all the time.

  • Reheat rotis:

Reheat rotis without turning them into frisbees by wrapping them in a damp paper towel and then microwaving for 30 seconds.

  • Degrime and degerm at the same time:

Your kitchen sponge is a hot bed for harmful bacteria. Kill two birds with one stone by microwaving it for a minute. The steam from the wet sponge loosens all the dirt in the microwave making it easier to clean while the microwaves kill the bacteria in the sponge.

  • Sharpen your knives:

Sharp knives not only help you cut faster but they are also safer.

  • Bring wooden spoons back:

We all know the situation. A beautiful wooden spoon you have been using for ages suddenly starts to smell so you throw it away with a sad feeling in your heart. But things don’t need to be that way! You can simply boil and dry them and they will be as good as new!

  • Lime scale no more:

Disgusted by the sight of yucky limescale in your electric kettle? Leave a vinegar solution in it overnight to clean it right up!

  • Fight fire with… Baking soda?:

Yup! That’s right! I you are dealing with a small grease fire, sprinkle baking soda on it. Baking soda releases carbon dioxide when heated thus helping to extinguish the fire.

So those were my simple kitchen hacks, if i could advice you to try any of them then I would suggest that you buy Morphy Richards food processor. It truly helped me deal with my chores in a jiffy. I even use it to make flaky pastry dough and creamy yummy mayonnaise. It is also super easy to clean! Also using it for 8 months now has taught me quite a few tip and tricks about this miraculous machine, but I will leave that story for yet another day! Thank you for reading!

The Joys of Baking!

 Baking is my passion. I have inherited it from my mother and grandmother both of whom were excellent cooks and bakers. One slice of my mother’s pineapple upside down cake was enough to quell the tuition teacher’s anger over incomplete homework and the carrot cake was particularly useful to calm down the aunty next door when she came to complain about yet another broken window. So as you can see baking is in my blood, and thankfully, I’m not too bad a baker either. My pound cake may not bring tears of happiness in ones eyes but it does disappear in a rather alarming fashion in the presence of my friends and colleagues.

But something needed to change about the way I baked. You see, I was using my mother’s old baking oven, those round ones with a window on top to check the progress of the cake, but as years went by it started to break down more and the fraying wires made each cake fraught with danger. As sad as it was to let it go, I decided to make the change and purchase an OTG oven to solve my baking problems. It was as I thought, time I tried my hand at grilling too.

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After making my decision, I went to the store to buy a new OTG oven and came right back after seeing the traffic on the road. It was then that I decided that a new way of baking deserves a new way of shopping too! So I hit the internet with a vengeance, determined to not let my dream of baking the perfect cheesecake down. And then? A miracle happened! I came across the Morphy Richards OTG online and it was love at first sight! It even had a motorized rotisserie function! Hello roast chicken and paneer tikkas! I simply couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the price! It was well within my budget and had a little to spare too! Buoyed by the feeling of euphoria I quickly ordered it and then began to wait impatiently for it to arrive.

That day dawned soon enough. The doorbell had never sounded sweeter! I eagerly removed the wrapping and stared at my new OTG oven in delight. It was sleek and stylish and well fit into my decor. But since the proof of the pudding was in the eating I quickly put it to the test for a scrumptious three-course meal using only the OTG. First up, bruschetta with olive oil and pesto. The toast was golden and crisp when I bit into it and I could not resist a quick groan of appreciation. Then I enjoyed a full roast chicken with vegetables and for dessert I had whipped up my favourite cheesecake. Both were beautifully cooked and the chicken was so juicy yet tender!

Buying the Morphy Richards OTG was honestly the best decision I have ever made for my baking. I am so happy with it that I even gifted one to my mother and demanded that she make me her famous pineapple upside down cake again! She is also thrilled with it.

So that was my story about my love for baking, what is your favourite baking story? Do you use an OTG oven? Do let me know in the comments!

The Importance Of Vegetable Chopper

I’ll admit it, I’m a huge fan of cooking shows, be it Masterchef, both Indian or international, Top Chef or Nigella, I love watching wonderful food being created and consumed. But watching these shows also has an unfortunate side effect, one feels almost compelled to replicate those delicious meals. Charmed by the effortlessness of the participants, I thought that I too can be a Master or a Top Chef and set off to recreate those dishes in real life. Alas! I am no culinary genius and my experiments with food fail the very moment I go to do the most basic of all food prep, chopping.

I cannot tell you, dear reader, how much I hate chopping vegetables! Onions make me cry, garlic makes my fingers smell for days and tomatoes collapse into a squishy mess the moment I look at them. Disheartened with my attempts, I had almost given up on my dreams of cooking something that was not a packet of instant noodles when my brain kicked into gear and the image of a vegetable cutter popped into my head like a vision from up above. Armed with this revelation, I hit the online stores with a vengeance, looking for the perfect vegetable chopper online to turn me into the Masterchef I knew I was inside.

A word about vegetable choppers, these nifty little appliances are an ideal addition to your busy lifestyle. No longer does one need to spend hours chopping away desultorily in a kitchen, wiping away tears caused by onions and frustration, with a vegetable cutter, one can chop onions as roughly or as finely as one wants, chop beans for the most delicious poriyal and chop up nuts to garnish a celebratory batch of kheer. That’s not all a vegetable chopper can do! One can make the creamiest mayonnaise, lassi and the frothiest besan mixes with the detachable whisk most choppers come with! Most modern choppers, such as the ones produced by Morphy Richards, are easy to clean and maintain and consume very little electricity and time. All one needs to do is to press a button.

Anyway, back to my adventures in hunting for the best vegetable cutter in India. After looking through various sites and shops hunting for my ideal vegetable chopper, I finally came across the Morphy Richards vegetable chopper. The price was well within my budget and the features like the detachable whisk completely sold me on the idea of buying it. The fact that I got a great deal on it helped quite a bit too! A few clicks and my chopper was on its way!

As I eagerly anticipated the arrival of my vegetable chopper, I fantasised about the lip-smacking meals that I was sure to create with this handy little device. A few days later, my wait was finally over and my new chopper was finally in my hands. Time to be the chef I knew I was inside! I started easy with chopping onions for a gravy, two minutes later, I stared in amazement at a bowl full of finely chopped onions and this time the tears in my eyes were from joy, not onions. Needless to say, my cooking has vastly improved and even though I’m not cooking show participant quality yet, I can proudly say that vegetables no longer scare me. A great vegetable chopper can change your kitchen game and I would suggest that everyone invests in one of these magical devices.

Kitchen Soldiers At Work

The time we spend in our kitchens is a lot! If you see the level of work a kitchen requires, you will be surprised to see that most of the time goes into cleaning the utensils and keeping the appliances in position. Around 50% of the time goes in the kitchen in washing and drying the things. There are other chores for sure like preparing the dish and keeping the ingredients ready. This however, requires less time. Not that low, but the rest 50% goes into this and some add-ons like keeping things in order, and switching of all appliances. However, there are kitchen appliances to reduce the preparation workload.

There is a gadget of chopping, grinding, churning and mixing. The one which can handle all this task is the juicer mixer grinder. The name suggests it all. The same comes with three different features. First, is the juicer. You get the pulp separately. Also, there is the mixer for making shakes and purees and the grinder for breaking down any hard substance that might break your teeth otherwise!

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There are other appliances as well, to mention there is the microwave convection oven! This magic box does wonders in the kitchen. Built on the concept of a magnetic field, the oven allows too many cooking functions in one. These are secondary functions for which we might buy different appliances but as there is this, we need not worry about the same. It allows the cook to have tandoor in minutes, grilling of fish and paneer. Not to forget it mitigates the OTG as it has the baking functioning! Nothing is left to order if you have the microwave. Further, it reduces the cooking time and for bachelors to have good food isn’t a difficult task anymore. Boiled rice or noodles, packed food or to defrost all done in seconds!

One interesting item you must have come across would be the food processor. The processor allows a lot of things to be done having a single appliance. The appliance here we are talking about is that which can perform multiple functions within itself. A food processor comes along with other utensils for help. It is a complete package of having a tiny kitchen inside the kitchen! The functions of a processor involve, dough making, grinding, churning, chopping of any vegetable. The tears because of green chilly or onions, all vanished with this magical product. The list isn’t over yet. To your surprise there is shredding, mashing, juicing and blending as well! The dough maker can be used for having lump-free batters as well!

To add on to your laziness, there is also the coffee maker machine, for the coffee addict who wants it but is too indolent to make it! This all to make the cooking easier and a reduction in time. So now check the speed and see how much time you saved! If you have such gadgets, you have an army of dedicated soldiers who are simply waiting for the command. That command is your will for good cooking and of course the electricity! These products do require the support of electricity. Oh yeah enjoy with the cleaning though! Not to worry, the products come as handy both ways for cooking and cleaning. Well, for the rest of the utensils, goodluck!

Electronic Revolution In the Kitchen

The Kitchen has been the home to a lot of people. Who says evolution happened just with humans! There has been changes in the kitchen as well. It has happened over a period of time but the same is evident. Earlier, all was restricted on the human hands or on stones and coal. The revolution happened with the incoming of electricity. The struggle was real before that. Everything was burdened upon the hands and was to be done manually. Chopping, grinding, even starting the gas all was time consuming and a major problem.

Then came in electricity, the best the humans could do with water although, saving the same is equally important. Since, then there has been a turn around. Now we had electrical appliances for every job. From mixers to electric induction cookers, we have come a long way! Think of a job and the mix of power and technology has got you the correct appliance for the work! The downfall in the manual labour has been drastic with the incoming of technology.

We have an appliance for whisking, beating the eggs, making dough or even cooking the chapattis. Further, there has been the food processor which gives you all these functions in one product. How easy cooking has become. Further, the amount of time that is saved is tremendous, because all you need to do now is put the vegetable in the product and press a button, ready in seconds! Also, such appliances aren’t pocket pinching. Too many features in one and the competition in the market makes the prices go down. The boon has been spread wide and nice with so many brands coming in the picture, you get a lot of option. Not just that, the features and add-ons of an appliance keeps increasing.

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The incoming of e-retailing have given more comfort to the consumer. You can buy juicer mixer grinder online, even the microwave oven or the tiny wand called hand blender. All the products have got a place in the web market. Further, the brands themselves have put the shops online! All the brands you see locally have marked a position in the online retailing as well. This doesn’t mean that that the domestic market has been slaughtered completely. There are people who still prefer the real market experience, having a demo, knowing the appliance personally.

The kitchen appliance market is big and ever growing. Whatever the manufacturers find is being done manually is given a shift on the technology side. This not only gives them an edge over the others, but also provides the consumer a rest period from all the household chores. The cook in the house who are also working are given a break from the workaholic life that they live.

All the products or technological developments happening in the world do mitigate the need of manual labour, the same has its advantages and problems. To tackle the issues faced in a kitchen, a lot has been done and the same doesn’t have any end.