Olly Writes

Woodwork, writing, walks, DIY and more!

Banana Bread #2

My first attempt wasn’t all that bad. But instead of simply rehashing the routine of the very same recipe, I decided this time that I would attempt a recipe that adds raisins (one of my favourite fruits) in to the mix.

You can find this Banana Bread recipe at the All Recipes site.

I still had three ripe bananas at my disposal while my fourth one, which was beginning to turn a little brown, was the one I decided would be chopped up (but not mashed) as per the instructions.

Flour power.

I was certain I’d bought an extra bag of self-raising flour a couple of months ago as this one had been close to empty for some time. But all I could find instead was an unopened bag of plain flour. So, instead of rushing out to buy some more of the right stuff, I created a mix that included 25% plain flour and an extra couple of teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda to compensate…

There’s not been a single recipe I’ve followed where they’ve advised you to pre-heat the baking tin while the oven warms up. As I’ve been having a lot of trouble with ‘soggy bottoms‘ in my halogen oven, I decided to try it on this occasion.

You may also be able to see that I’m using the extender ring this time, which raises the height of the lid and increases the capacity (volume) inside the glass bowl. My thinking was that perhaps the extra space would allow more air to circulate around and beneath the loaf tin.

That suggestion alone makes me consider whether this oven is, at best, only suitable for cakes up to, say, 200mm (8in) in diameter, where I’ve mostly been using 230mm (9in) tins…

In go the raisins.

Ready to bake.

Even while it was ‘wet’, there appeared to be too much mix in this tin. I was ready to discover it pouring out over the sides, 45 minutes later…

Despite the addition of the riser to increase the distance between the top of the pan and the heating element; the top of this loaf came out very brown and crisp. I was already confident that it would be ready to serve and a quick poke with a skewer implied that it only remained soft inside at one single corner…

You can see quite clearly how it rose along one side, almost like a boat that’s seconds away from capsizing.

You know that episode of The Simpsons where Homer becomes a food critic and a Frenchman attempts to poison him with a tainted chocolate dessert? My cake had a definite ‘wobble’ to it, once it was removed from the tin.

But there was no poison inside; just plenty of under-cooked potassium.

I don’t think it’s smiling at us…

It wasn’t even half as well baked as I had hoped. While it was lovely and warm, it was extremely pudding-like inside and those kind of ‘cakes‘ aren’t as enjoyable twenty-four hours after they’ve cooled.

Still, I remain defiant that I can find a way to bake something reasonably well in a halogen oven. I’m searching for a ‘one method to suit them all‘ and, through all my trials, I have so far encountered too many errors… Or, am I just hoping to create the perfect cake?

My next effort is most likely to be a sponge or layer cake and I’ll try to base it on a 200mm diameter tin. If I can crack the secret there, I may be able to apply similar workings to other recipes. I have a birthday coming up in March, which will mark the one-year anniversary of my first cake attempt and it would be nice to have made further progress by then.

One website I found suggests reducing the temperature by around 20°C when converting recipes for these ovens. I might also try covering the top with foil again.

My biggest obstacle, I believe, is the halogen oven itself. If you’re familiar with the technology; it relies on infra-red heat, which is why the tops of cakes (and most foods) will cook much quicker than the rest. I’ve started using a halogen heater for added warmth recently (a bit like one of those patio heaters – more on this soon) and I’ve become reminded of how it doesn’t radiate heat as much as it directs.

Thanks for reading.

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