Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Is Your Oven Telling You the Truth?

I live in an apartment. So I don't have the luxury to purchase my own stove/oven range. So far, a good kitchen where I can bake in has always been the highest factor in deciding on a place to rent. I've lucked out so far to always have had a working (yet small) oven. I guess I've ran out of luck when I moved to this new apartment.

Don't get me wrong, the apartment is awesome. It even came with a new oven. Unfortunately, one that overheats... :-(. I reported this to my landlord. She called Sears to send their technician, who then claimed that the oven is under-heating instead of overheating. Hmm.. I wonder how that explained my burned macs *grr*.

Anyway, I need to proof my case, so after much researching, I found a few simple tests to determine how accurate your oven temperature really is. Since I am now stuck at home, waiting for Sears to send another guy who happens to be "running behind", I figured I'd write this up. It might come in handy to others or even for myself if I need to run tests again in the future.

Test 1: Purchase an oven thermometer
This one's easy. It's pretty cheap too. Just get an oven thermometer and hang it on one of the oven racks. If it registers higher then what your oven is set to, then chances are your oven temp is off. The downside to this is when the technician comes with a more hi-tech gadget and tells you that your thermometer is wrong... it's hard to beat that.

Test 2: The Ready-bake Biscuit
Buy a can of ready-bake biscuit from any supermarket. Follow the baking instruction to the T. If you get golden brown biscuit, then your oven temp is a-okay. If you get burned biscuit on the other hand.... then chances are your oven is overheating.

Test 3: The Cook's Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen Water Test
I saw this on TV a while ago. According to ATK, if you put 1/2 cup of tap water in a pyrex cup in a 350degree oven for 15 minutes, the water should registers 150degree when you temp it out of the oven.

I've done all three tests, and everything suggested that my oven is overheating. Alas, I am now sitting at home, waiting for the Sears guy, who's running WAY late to come and fix the darn oven *sigh*.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Dawn to Dusk

It is now May and I can't believe that I've been interning for almost five months. I've learned so many things and am truly enjoying it. I gotta admit, the morning schedule is a killer. I swear, waking up in the morning reduces my IQ. I can get into a very normal sounding conversation with somebody, and then five minutes later forgetting the whole content of that conversation *shake head*. Pretty sad... It also feels strange going out to work when it's still pitch dark out. The streets are empty and there's hardly anybody out. But then again, it's amazing to see how much you can get done by the time the sun is out.

I still have a couple more weeks to go in this rotation. My days are filled with breads and Viennoiseries. I started my typical day prepping for the schools breakfast (pictures above; poor quality since they're taken with my phone). Aside from waking up in the morning, I actually really enjoy this rotation. I'm not so afraid of yeast anymore and have a newfound appreciation to great artisan breads.

The next couple of weeks I'll hopefully have my hands on laminating croissants. If not, I'll make it my mission to at least practice with a smaller batch of dough.

After the two weeks, I'll be going back to the pastry station. I CAN'T WAIT!! ^_^

I'm loving my life now. Work is hard, but satisfying. I hardly have time to do baking on the side anymore. Not that I can anyway since the new oven in my apartment is still not working properly (overheating issue).

I'm so glad I made this decision. I guess some dreams are worth chasing.