Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Baking 101 - Meet my Oven - Part 1

For someone who learnt baking on her own,writing this post does sound a bit over the top,really.I am a late learner when it comes to baking,started baking just 3-4 years back.I do have to my credit(NOT!) inedible flat discs which came out of the oven when I put in delicious cake batter,or rock hard balls of bread which went in soft and fluffy and many more of that I wouldn't wish to divulge.

However,thanks to food blogs,youtube videos and dedicated baking sites,I can say I bake very well than that now.
Another hurdle I had to cross was the oven.I have a small counter top Microwave Convection oven which according to me takes a bit of your time and understanding to get accustomed to.I've been getting many mails regarding the kind of oven I use and timings I follow for baking in it that I thought this post shouldn't be delayed any further.

Here are a few FAQ's I come across 
  • Can I bake in my Microwave oven?
There are three types of Microwave ovens

a)Solo Microwave
b)Grill Microwave
c)Convection Microwave OR Grill/Convection Combi Microwave

If you use your oven extensively for re-heating food,like to do a bit of grilling and a good amount of baking,I'd highly recommend you go for a Grill/Convection Microwave oven.

Solo Microwave oven,as the name suggests can only be used for reheating food.You can however try out baking 5 minute Microwave cake or Instant Brownie or Dates Cake in it.Perfect for those sudden cravings but for 'real' baking' you have to go for a convection microwave.Same applies for Grill Microwave.

Top three Microwave baking recipes
Convection Microwave,however is just like a regular oven with microwave features.You can use the features of Microwave as well as bake in it like any other regular oven.
  • Can I use metal tins in my Microwave?
If you have the aforementioned Convection Microwave,yes you sure can.When the convection mode is switched on,there are no microwave rays hence you can safely use your regular cake tins and glassware with great results.

But if you are cooking in a combi-mode like Microwave-Grill or Microwave-Convection,use only Microwave safe dishes like Pyrex,Borosil etc.
  • How to set the temperature/pre-heat my Microwave?
Another most often asked query is how to preheat the microwave.The manual which comes with the microwave clearly specifies not to run the microwave empty,so I am guessing that is what confuses everyone.When you are using the microwave features - like re-heating,cooking vegetables or anything else,yes running an empty microwave can cause harm.

But when you are pre-heating the microwave,you are activating the convection mode and it is totally safe to operate the microwave empty.

For preheating the oven - first set the temperature in which you want to preheat,for eg 180C.The oven will start heating up and when the required temperature is reached,will start beeping.This is when you open and put in your cake,cookies etc and then close it.Again set the temperature,180C for eg and set the time 30.00(for eg) and press start,that's it.
  • Will the baked good look and taste similar to those baked in an electric oven?
I haven't yet compared a cake,cookie baked in a microwave and an electric oven.So cannot do justice to the question.However,I find that when you bake in the microwave,the cake,cookie gets baked evenly since it is placed on the rotating pan and it also saves the trouble of rotating the pan midway during the baking.
  • Should I place the pan on the wire-rack provided in the starter kit?
Many ovens(like mine) come with a heating coil on top.If you place the cake pan on a wire-rack,it will be too close to the heating coil which may cause your cake to brown fast and not cook in the middle.You can safely place your cake pan on the rotating plate and bake.If you feel the cake is not browned enough,during the last five minutes of baking,you can place the cake on the wire-rack and continue with the baking(something similar to the broil mode in regular ovens).

Here are my top five baking recipes in this blog-all baked in my Microwave Convection Oven.
I don't know if it sounds contradictory,but I did invest in a Regular oven lately,a Morphy Richards 28 ltr.Will be doing a post on that too shortly.Stay tuned!

If you have any more specific queries,please post them in the comment section and I will update the post with the answers.

Also don't forget to check out my guest posts at 


  1. Nice and informative post Divya..Good job

  2. This is such a wonderful and beautifully drafted detailed post :)

  3. hi divya, lovely post... after reading your earlier posts, i bought a microwave convention oven 1000 W and i'm mighty pleased with it, however, i have one issue - i follow the exact instructions, preheat the oven (but my oven does not beep, so I heat for 10 minutes approx) and place the cake on the rotating pan, when i test after the time, my tester comes out clean but when i flip the cake for cooling, the bottom centre will be totally uncooked. would you please advise why this happens? thank u so much for your help... love ur blog, it's very helpful for novice cooks like me... :)

    1. Hi Rafeeda,the center/bottom remains uncooked while the top looks cooked could be due to the high heat on top.Try reducing the temperature and cook for a longer duration.Or you could even cover the top with a foil and cook further if a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out wet after the scheduled baking time.Try baking at different temperature/timing till you get an ideal temperature to bake irrespective of the recipe.

    2. thank u so much divya for your feedback... i will try that suggestion when i bake my next cake... i did bake a cake on saturday and it turned to be a dud... same din cook properly and the top became so hard... :(

  4. I too had the exact problem as you Rafeeda...my thinking is that may be we should put the cake pan on the lower grill provided separately....if you do try it..please post here.

    1. Hi Anon,you can place the cake pan directly on the rotating table,no need to place it on the grill rack.

    2. Hey divya..
      Is it safe to put aluminium cake tin directly on the glasa turntable

  5. Yes, you are the right consultant for MW baking. Have gone through your guest posts the time you posted itself and had made up my mind to 'torture you when I shift from my conventional round oven to an MW ;)

    Very informative post, Divya!

  6. Looking forward to your review on the morphy Richards.I too am planning to buy it. Wondering whether the 28 ltr will be too small and whether I shd go for the 42 ltr.Please focus on this aspect too in your review.Thanks

  7. Hello Divya, this post was quite useful, and looking forward to the one on your Morphy Richards oven. I've been agonizing over which electric oven to buy, what size etc. And I'm very sure I don't want a microwave!

    waiting for your oven review!

  8. Very informative one for a beginner like me!!
    I too get some probs while baking :( For instance my main one is that the cake becomes hard sometimes..Is it because of overcooking?
    And the second one is the cake takes a mountain shape even if I am filling batter in the mould for only 1/4th portion..
    Please advise :)

    1. Cake is hard - One reason could be overcooking the cake on a higher temperature.Another could be over beating the batter after adding the flour.

      Mountain shape - Not sifting the flour with baking powder/soda,or using a small pan than mentioned in the recipe.

  9. Hi Divya,

    My cousin sister has recently purchased an oven and I would like to get her some gifts related to baking when I visit India. Would you be able to recommend something? She stays in Pune and has basic pans so I was planning to shop for difficult to find ingredients and present them all in a gift basket. She has only asked for cupcake liners which I am stocking up in different designs and themes. I got a silicone baking mat (SILPAT) for her and some cake, brownie, cookie mixes since she is new to baking. I also bought some good quality baking chocolate, packets of yeast and am hunting for egg sunstitute powder. Is there anything else that can go in my gift basket?

    1. Your cousin sister is lucky!

      Different shapes of baking pans - Bundt,Brownie tins,ring molds,springform tins etc.
      Cocoa powder,Chocolate chips(the big sized ones),Pam Spray etc.
      Yes,Yeast is a good buy.

    2. Thanks for your reply Divya! I want to surprise her so asking you here. I was thinking of bundt pan too, a smaller 6 cup one so its often used even with less batter and gives a full bundt shape. what do you think? I'll get the Pam Baking spray; I never would have thought of that, thanks for the great idea! One question about cocoa powder, does it loose its taste with time? wondering how big a tin shall I get.

      I bought all kinds of baking chips for her (chocolate in different types, peanut butter, butterscotch, cappuccino) but my hubby says they'll melt on their way from airport to freezer at home. Here they stay solid at room temperature, do they get sticky at room temp in India? We had got best quality truffles for family last year and they melted on their way home but since they were individually packed we could freeze them and enjoy them later, baking chips are so small we fear they'll form one big sticky ball. Please advise. Thanks a lot for your help. And trust me, I am luckier than her to have her as my cousin sister :) I love her a lot!

    3. Yes a 6 cup bundt is ideal for regular sized cakes.I think Hersheys and Valhrona cocoa powder comes in 200gms sizes,they will be fine at room temperature without any problem.

      We get small sized choco chips in India at many places that's why I suggested the big ones.Not sure about the melting part,maybe you could get a small quantity and try:)

      Also remembered Parchment sheets,cookie cutters.I'd suggest mason jars too,she can keep all the baking stuff in it!Sprinkles,silver dragees etc.

    4. Thanks for your quick reply and suggestions, I really appreciate it.

      The SILPAT mat acts like a parchment paper for lifetime, no need to grease it too. Cookie cutters are a great suggestion, I can see her using it to make savory baked snacks for my neice too. Silver dragees were banned in some states here but I can easily get sprinkles. Thanks a lot Divya, my cousin is going to be mightly surprised!

  10. Divya, this post really helps me because I have this exact same oven. I found that the standard 180 degrees burns the top and the inside is not cooked enough. After a lot of fidgeting found that 140 is the best in this and increase the cooking time.
    I am not sure if this would differ for other ovens, even if the model is same

    1. Yes Akila.As I mention every now and then,each oven is different and it is not necessary that one temperature for baking works in another.see which one works best for you.

      I have not tried baking swiss roll in my microwave because the pan doesn't fit.I have tried removing the rotating table and keeping the pan and baked it anyway,but it was not evenly baked.

    2. what model oven do u use?i use IFB microwave +convection.when i bake a cake with std 180 deg mentioned in recipies it gets hard and burnt within 15-20 minutes.will this 140 deg works for cakes in ifb?

  11. Another query, have you tried a swiss roll in this kind of micro/convection? I had a doubt with that. We need to use a rectangular sheet for the baking. Wouldn't that hit the sides as the base would try to rotate and the sheet would be large and obstruct that? Might sound like a silly question :(

  12. i have IFB 25SC3 mw-convection oven.i need to know how to operate convection mode,as i am fond of cooking i oftenly experiment new dishes.

    which mode is suitable for baking recipes

  13. Hi Divya,

    I bought a Samsung convection microwave recently. When I bake cake in it, the top crust becomes moist and sticky the next day. The rest of the cake seems perfectly fine. I tried different recipes. The cake crust looks dry when it comes out of the oven, but gradually becomes moist. Any idea why this is happening?

    Divya Nair

  14. Hi Divya,

    I bought a Samsung convection microwave recently. I tried 5 different cakes so far. All of them had one problem. The top crust turns moist and sticky, that too the next day. Although when the cake comes out of the oven the crust looks perfect. Any idea why this is happening?

    Thank you very much for the lovely recipes. I tried out your walnut chocolate brownie. It was delicious.

    Divya Nair

  15. My cakes and breads cook well but they don't brown on the top. I' ve tried milk + sugar+butter wash(I'm a vegetarian) . But, that lovely colour still eludes. Can you please give me any suggestions

  16. hii divya

    i have IFB 25SC3 mw-convection oven.conv or micro +conv s good for cakes ...can v use aluminium foil and butter paper i this oven for baking

  17. Hi Divya,

    I bought Onida Black Beauty Convection model, pls suggest for preparing cakes and cup cakes what cookware i have to use

  18. Hi in solo model can we bake minimum things like biscuits and small cakes pls let me know?

  19. mam, i wud like to ask :
    i have an IFB SRC 30 which has all three functions along with rotisserie. i baked my first cake, a chocolate vanilla eggless cake and it turned out excellent. next i tried another eggless, a banana cake but this time i made the mistake of putting the baking tin on top of the grill rack. cake was good except that the top part of the cake was overbrowned and too hard. should we use the grill rack or just put the baking container on the glass turntable. also , the recipe said to bake for 35 mins at 180 and i baked for only 32 minutes. if i had not removed at 32 minutes it would have been worse.
    pls advise.

  20. i placed the cake container on the grill rack, is it a mistake because the cake top became overbrowned, more closer to black.

  21. hello mam i bought IFB solo microwave so can i make snacks like veg puff,biscuit,cookies etc...if yes then how should i use because the convection mode is not there in my microwave......

  22. I have a IFB30SC3 .Several times i baked cakes using recipee from net but all of them went in vain. i bought a cake tin nd used that in convection mode as directed in the process but it also become unsuccessful........ just help me especially with the exact timing and mode of operation

  23. Hi Divya,

    That's a very informative post, thanks a lot. I have an IFB30SC3 MW oven. Even when I use the ingredients as specified in the recipe, and use the specified temperature (180 C) as in most of the cases, my cake becomes hard from the top (starts burning) but still remains uncooked from bottom.

    Can you please help me. What mistake am I doing here.

    Thanks a lot,

  24. Hi Mam,
    Just need guidance that how to keep two cake tins in microwave oven because many recipes calls for two cake tins.
    Is there any way or I have to do the same exercise twice.

  25. Hi Mam,
    Is there any way to bake in two cake pans simultaneously in microwave oven because many recipes calls for two cake pans.
    Or I have to repeat the whole exercise twice.

  26. Hi Divya, I'm also using IFB microwave convection. I pretty much like it but most of the time my muffins, cookies and cake doesn't get brown from base. Can u help?

  27. i have samsung convention 28l microwave, please let me know how to pre-heat oven for baking, and how the fast pre-heat button works which is in display, once when i pressed fast pre-heat button, smoke was coming heavily from microwave after 1min, so i stopped it immediately

  28. really ,,this is very informative and valuable post.i have IFB convection but i want to buy another convection oven.that's why this is very important post for me and i hope you help me which oven is really good and good performance and long lasting.


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