The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Baking stuff

It has been so long since I last posted an entry on my cooking. In fact, that was back a couple of months ago when we were staying in New York for a couple of months during Rob's job training, and I had a lot more time to try new and different recipes. Now, it seems like I have almost non-existent free time, and what little free time I have is taken up doing chores or running errands or studying Japanese. A few weeks ago while shopping for things we needed for the apartment, I impulsively bought an electric mixer and an expensive tube pan which cost almost 3000yen! I've always loved the lightness of sponge cake (which is very similar to angel food cake and chiffon cake) but the couple of times I tried to make sponge cakes without adequate equipment (no mixer for one) turned out disastrously enough to not try again for a good few years. Sponge cakes are notoriously difficult to make, and even though I was happy with the volume and taste of the one I made on Monday, I have a lot of room for improvement for the texture. Rob reassured me that it was still a pretty good outcome considering I am still not used to the oven which is a convection (fan-forced) oven. In the last few weeks, I've made four batches of brownies in this combi oven, and I have finally found a good temperature and cooking time to make nice non-cake-like brownies). I wonder how many cakes it will take to make one I'm happy with? [edited to add: Thankfully not too many - click here for Orange Chiffon Cake.]

Voluminous cake!

I achieved yet another accomplishment in baking on Monday - I finally proved to myself that I can indeed make and bake bread without a breadmaker! It was a gradual progression from full reliance on breadmaker to knead, proof and bake the bread (did this for a year while in Perth), to using the machine just for kneading and doing the proofing and baking myself (for another year in rural Japan when I had a crappy breadmaker that did not bake properly) to finally do the whole breadmaking by hand. I don't have a choice, since we don't have a breadmaker due to very limited space in this small kitchen, and I want to eat wholemeal bread which is a rare thing in Japan. Plus good bread here costs a lot! Anyway, I was pretty happy with how this loaf turned out - good crust, nice crumb and doesn't taste too bad!

We'll both be working on Christmas Day itself, but we'll be having an early celebration on Sunday in our tiny apartment with the Japanese family we met in Hakone. I found a 6kg turkey to roast, which I am quite apprehensive about since I have never roasted a turkey before, and it is notoriously easy to get dry tasteless meat. Hopefully all that practice with baking in the oven will afford me some advantage points! Wish me luck and hopefully we won't have to go hungry without a turkey on Sunday!


  1. If you're interested, there's a girl's blog that I read and conveniently enough she's just tried out a turkey recipe with much success!
    Here is the link to her blog:
    Good luck with it and hope you have a great xmas :)

  2. Thanks for the link - I saw your comment after the lunch so I wasn't able to use her recipe.. I used my friend's recipe which she tells me is always requested by her family for Thanksgiving back in America. Turned out quite nice.
    Merry Xmas!