Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Distracted by the vacuum

In need of some baking to have for my morning teas this week, I spent about five minutes this afternoon preparing a sultana loaf (p32).

The method is slightly unusual - you put the sultanas in a bowl with a small amount of butter, some sugar, salt and golden syrup. Then you sprinkle in baking soda (it says "sprinkle" but I used a sieve) and pour boiling water over the top.

It takes a couple of minutes for the water to melt the butter, which also allows time for the sultanas to soak up a bit of moisture. After that, you just add flour and baking powder, and "mix quickly". I wasn't sure if this meant you should stir really fast, or that you should just do it briefly, i.e. with as little mixing as possible. I opted for somewhere between the two, and in a very short time had the loaf in the oven to bake.

My previous attempts at loaves have had mixed results - usually they taste ok, but have a thick crust around the edge. I attribute this to my oven being too hot, and followed my recent practice of reducing the given temperature by 8-10 degrees to allow for the 'hotness' of the oven. I set the timer for just under the recommended cooking time and went off to do the vacuuming.

I was still vacuuming some time later when it occurred to me that I wouldn't hear the timer if it went off. Turning off the vacuum, I noted that the timer wasn't beeping, but decided to have a look at how many minutes there were to go.

When I checked the timer, it showed 0.00, which was odd. Why no beep? I figure it went off but must only beep for a certain time before stopping. I wouldn't have heard it, blithely attacking carpet-adhered cat hair at the other end of the house!

Luckily, the loaf wasn't too overdone. It didn't even have that thick crust I've had before - further evidence that adjusting the oven temperature is definitely the thing to do - and was only slightly drier than it should be. Of course, you don't expect a basic sultana loaf to be bursting with flavour, but it's still sweet and pleasant to eat, with nice bursts of juicy raisin here and there. Considering how little effort it took to make, I reckon it was time well spent.

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