2010-08-15

Vegan Cupcakes and Baking and Why You Need an Oven Thermometer

Before you bake these cupcakes, get an oven thermometer.

I attempted my first baking recipe yesterday. In the new apartment, that is. The kitchen is new, not the baker. I've been around the block a time or two when it comes to batter and dough (so if you're new to the blog, Darling, don't panic- I've got armloads of gluten-free recipes waiting for your brilliance to coax them to life). See that sparkling little cupcake gem above? Try it's zesty orangeness on for size. Because the recipe I was developing for you... Well. 

It failed. 

What was it? you idly wonder. Zucchini bread. A bread that should have been moist and tender and bursting with juicy bits of zucchini. A perennial August favorite I haven't sunk my teeth into since going gluten-free nine years ago. So I was due.

What happened?

Here's the thing. The thing I have to share with you that could change your gluten-free baking life. The back story: the stove is new. As in brand spanking new. No gluten has ever darkened it's white enamel door (a psychological plus). And it's a gas stove (heats quickly, super efficient). So what I am about to tell you may surprise you.

The oven temperature was off. As in way off.

How do I know? I had an inkling. I bought an oven thermometer. I installed it. And I set the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. When the preheat light went off I opened the oven door. It read 400 cussing degrees.


What?

How can a brand new oven be off by 50 degrees? Turns out ovens can be off by all kinds of degrees, Babycakes. A little high. A little low. This is not uncommon. New or old, stoves can be persnickety. So if you're one of those readers who find my baking times too short or too long? Get an oven thermometer stat and take your oven's temperature. Play nurse to that Bad Boy. And find out exactly where you're at. Because the sunken loaves with gummy centers you felt guilty about? Might not be you at all, Darling. The burnt cookies that made you feel like a Martha Stewart failure? Could be your over zealous gas burner.

To test this out we set the oven  temp to 300 degrees. And guess what? The thermometer read 350 degrees. On the nose. 

So Steve rustled up some cookies to cheer me up in my zucchini bread grief. And not just any cookies. These Peanut Butter Quinoa Cookies. Because a girl needs a dunk worthy cookie for breakfast.

And there will be zucchini bread in the near future. Oh yes.



These peanutty quinoa cookies will cure all ills (use Sunbutter if you avoid peanuts).





Karina

24 comments:

  1. We just moved into our new place (well two weeks ago) but thankfully I packed my oven thermometer when shipping everything from California. It is a lifesaver. My oven is off (low) by a good 20 degrees!! The oven is fairly new but everyone should have one of these for their ovens.

    Sorry about your bread! But those cookies sound amazing
    -Jenny

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  2. It always takes time to adjust to a new oven, I burnt almost everything in mine the first weeks-I know you and your oven will bounce back in a whiff, I'm looking forward to that zucchini bread...

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  3. I second the oven thermometer! I set my oven halfway between 350 and 375 to get 350. (It is from the pre-digital era.)

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  4. A good reminder - something that I should have bought a LONG time ago.

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  5. You are a keen kitchen detective!

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  6. I am sorry for all these questions I have, but I just bought a thing of Tahini paste (Joyva) and I don't know what to use it with but I hear that is a good thing for people who are GF/DF to eat. any suggestions?
    thanks so much :)

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  7. I'm wondering about my new oven because I made slow roasted tomatoes (which took 8-9 hours in the old oven) and they were done in 6.5 hours! I'm happy you got a gas stove, completely biased in favor of gas!

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  8. OMG! I never thought of doing this! Thank you. Maybe this is the problem with my oven.

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  9. I think putting the oven thermometer in the oven when we moved into our new house was one of the first things I did! It's too hot by about 35 degrees.

    PS> I cannot wait to see a zucchini bread recipe from you!

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  10. Oh, your blog is so amusing and entertaining! I love the way you write! Now I know why my GF chocolate cake spends a good ten minutes more than it is supposed to in the oven. (Will post this recipe, as Im so delighted that my "old gluten cake" works just as well gluten free!)

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  11. Karina, I actually just wrote a blog post about this as well. My gas stove is very old and is also 50 degrees off. I know this because I also JUST bought an oven thermometer. My oven idles at 120 degrees thereby making my kitchen unbearably hot all summer long. I asked. They said this was normal. It almost canceled Fat Kid Fridays. I am not sure what else to do at this point, but just keep watching it. There isn't much I can bake now a days anyway thanks to my brand new, baking: impossible food allergies.

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  12. I hear you and you have my sympathy! My new oven was the same. It was off by almost 50*, but 6mths on has settled to about 20* to low. I opted for gas hot plates but an electric oven as I find it easier to regulate the heat. Good luck, and don't be discouraged!

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  13. Thanks for the helpful tip! Can you buy a cheap oven thermometer anywhere (like Target for example)? If so I'll pick one up this week.


    -Rachael
    http://plantbasedkitchen.blogspot.com/

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  14. I think my oven is like your oven (except for the fact that its about 40 years old). I haven't bought an oven thermometer but from experience baking with this oven I have it seems to be 50 degrees off too. When a recipe calls for 350 degrees I turn it to 300 (or even a smidge less). Better to bake it slowly than burn it I say!

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  15. Ha! I remember this! Went gluten-free just after moving into a new place with an oven that was at least 150 degrees hotter than the dial's reading. Thought I was just doomed to never eat anything good again. Those thermometers are a lifesaver.
    Hang in there, though! We're crazy excited for that zucchini bread recipe! =)

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  16. Too bad about your oven being off. I hope it doesn't give you too many problems with your future baking. I just found your blog by the way and wanted to tell you how gorgeous your pictures are!

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  17. An oven thermometer is a must when trying out a 'new' oven when you've moved. It's part of my kitchen routine since I have moved so many times in my life! Sometimes you can just adjust the temp if it's just a few degrees variance but other times, an electrician has to be called to calibrate the oven thermostat. Ah, ovens I've known - everything from gas ovens to woodstove ovens, a real baking challenge.

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  18. The one thing I've realized about my gas oven (and this is the first time I've had gas rather than electric) is that not only is the temperature off, but it fluctuates during the baking time. My stove is on propane, and at first I thought that was why, but the manufacturer says no, the gas just goes on and off to try to achieve a steady temperature by heating up and cooling down! Stove thermometer -- great idea!

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  19. You know, you're right. I've neglected to get a thermometer all this time (and they cost what, less than 10 bucks?) and my baking times always seem to run short. Guess I should figure out why, huh? And you deserve that zucchini bread - so make it ASAP!

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  20. Thank you for this post! I did a zucchini bread in a bread machine last weekend and it totally failed. I thought I had too much moisture ingredients...could have been that and the bread machine temp.

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  21. I completely agree with you. I've lived in about 12 apartments in nearly as many years and each time I bring along my trusty oven thermometer precisely for the reasons you described. I'm so happy you are settled and baking--I can't wait to see what you having store for the fall.

    Take care and all the best!

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  22. Knew they were a great idea, but I thought, "Ah, but our oven is new! Surely it's accurate?" .. Thanks for setting me straight. Time to stop procrastinating & buy one.

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  23. I've never taken my oven's temp, but I have learned from experience that it is on the cool side. I always set the oven at least 25° warmer than the recipe says. I don't even think twice about it until my husband does some (rare) baking and then oops! We are in the market for a new oven, so I will take your advice and buy a thermometer.

    I made some scrumptious zuke bread a couple of weeks ago.I just followed Betty Crocker, added a few more interesting spices, some xanthan gum, and my gf flour combo (sorghum, tapioca, and brown rice). Yummy!

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  24. Do all oven thermometers work good? Or any particular ones better?

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Karina - Gluten-Free Goddess xox