The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baking in a Toaster Oven

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Gourmand2go's picture
Gourmand2go

Baking in a Toaster Oven

Hi all


After two frightening hydro bills, I decided that I needed to investigate more energy efficient methods for baking small items.  Typically I would heat up my full-sized conventional oven to bake a crust for cheesecake which would take 10-15 minutes after preheating for probably 15-20 minutes.  I still intend to use my large oven for bread, but I suspect many other things could be done more economically in a counter-top oven.


My toaster oven doesn't have convection or rotisserie features, but it seems well designed.  It has a crumb tray, rack, and aluminum pan.  With all of those in place, I tried baking chicken strips and was impressed how evenly they browned, and it even seemed faster than in the large oven.  I think I hadn't tried it sooner because I feared the cleanup, but the materials seemed to shed any debris very easily.  I used to use my George Foreman Party Time grill almost every day and it was an ordeal to clean but probably saved me a lot of hydro, though at the time I had a self-cleaning oven that was well insulated.


This morning I tried baking a Dutch Baby Apple Pancake crust in the toaster oven.  I didn't put the pan in this time, and I think that was a mistake because the oven burned the butter I was trying to melt before adding the batter.  The second attempt was with the pan and the butter melted well enough, though the crust didn't come out quite as well as in the conventional oven.


Because this toaster oven is 10" wide, I think I might try baking a tart crust or cheesecake crust in it, but of course these items have a lot of butter so I'm a bit nervous about it.  I don't have a working oven thermometer right now to test the accuracy of the temperature.


If anyone else has used a counter-top oven for small items, I would love to hear about any helpful tricks.  I'm not planning to try anything that takes much more than half an hour to bake.


If anyone has found a counter-top convection oven that bakes great cakes, that would be of interest, too!


Many thanks!


 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Hydro to me, means water.  Hydro-electric power?


I have a griller built into my microwave and it browns lots of things too.  There are devices on the market that you can plug into the wall and then plug the appliance into it and get direct information as to how much electricity they are using.  You might be in for a few surprises.  Many toaster ovens and countertop grills are badly insulated and use lots of energy.   Compare the wattage use first.  


I don't know how big your "full size conventional oven is" or how old it is.  But it might be time for an update.  The size of American ovens used to be based on baking a full size turkey and cheap energy.  Newer ovens are more practical, well insulated and not so large with a inside space of about 18" x 13" x 16" deep  or fit into a 60cm block of space.  If you add up all the smaller appliances, you might come out with a new oven that fits your baking needs and saves energy. 


Mini Oven   (I bake in small places :)

Gourmand2go's picture
Gourmand2go

Thanks for your response Mini Oven.  Here in Canada we have a hydro company that controls the electricity.


I must find the device you speak of, otherwise I feel like I'm gambling with these different devices not to mention the butter. ;)


I have been poking around the appliance stores lately trying to weigh the options.  I might wait awhile and see how the steam injection ovens work out and whether they become more widely available.


I do need the large conventional oven for bread, however.  I have large baking stones and find that I can get everything done in two batches this way, saving time and some energy as well.


Judging just by how much these devices heat up my kitchen, I'd have to say that the toaster oven is more efficient for short-term use than the large conventional oven.  If I were baking a large bundt or cheesecake, or braising, it would make more sense to use the large oven.

EvaB's picture
EvaB

I too am in Canada but my hydro company has a way of billing, that eliminates the huge bills, and gives me an even amount to pay over the year in monthly installments, my oven fortunately is gas, but it too is expensive. I have the same monthly billing with the gas too, when I use less in summer I still pay the same bill and it evens out the higher bills in winter for heating and lighting.


One thing we have done to lower the bill is to use the flourescent bulbs, and for my large tube lights which are over my plants (I have insane amount of those and they need the lights) I plugged them into timers, they go on automatically and off the same way (well they do when the timers work, they suffer failures on occasion) and that has saved a huge amount on the bill.


I am going to look for the things that you can plug in and find out how much your appliance is using, they sound really worth while.


You might want to look into the steam option from this company, it should improve you oven function and make it more useful while saving up for the new oven.I'm sorry I don't have the web address, but its on the site somewhere, as this is where I got it, and I am looking into getting the whole thing including the stone for my baking.



Steam Maker Bread Baker Company
49 Grey Avenue
Allendale, NJ 07401 USA

Gourmand2go's picture
Gourmand2go

I'd be better off if they billed me every time I bake something!  ;)


The appliance meters run between $150 and $300 USD.  It probably would pay for itself, but it would be better if you could get one from the hydro company and just rent or borrow.


I do have the fluorescent bulbs, but the mini tubes caused terrible eye problems for me.  They flicker at a very fast rate that you wouldn't notice but can be irritating to your eyes, because they're constantly adjusting to the fluctuations.


Part of the huge hydro bill was opening the oven door to spritz the inside.  I no longer do this every 30 seconds.  Once or twice will have to do.  But not having to open the door to steam would be ideal.


I can see why the brick or mud oven would be popular with anyone who has a woodlot.

RobynNZ's picture
RobynNZ

Perhaps you could consider covering your bread while it bakes rather than opening the door to spray. You will need to remove the cover but it only means opening the oven once quickly. Many people posting on this site choose to cover their bread for the first 15 minutes.  Use the search box and look for 'magic bowl' or "roasting tin' or  'cover' etc. 


 

EvaB's picture
EvaB

BUT am happy with the rated to pay over the whole year rather than in big bills and wind up having tons of frustration.


I do think the steamer would be cheaper than the appliance meter, not the low end one, but the $300 one, since by post the whole thing including stone, cover and steam generator comes to $285 to ship it to me, and it would be less in the US of course, so am going to go that route as soon as I can scratch up the funds.


Failing that, do you have a large roaster cover you can place over your bread as it bakes, this would solve the having to spritz often, and that would definitely lower the bills.


I am trying to gather up enough brick to build myself an oven, we have 4.9 acres and lots of trees which fall down or otherwise cause problems (sattelite TV reception) so a brick oven would take care of two birds with one oven!

Gourmand2go's picture
Gourmand2go

You can always make your own bricks--I believe they sell moulds for it but you can make the moulds too.  Bags of cement are less costly than bricks.  I like the hand-made look, too.


I rarely bake loaves, unless I'm planning to give one away.  My favorite thing is breadsticks, but usually I'll make pizza crusts and rolls as well.  I like the extra crust you have with small items, but it's more awkward to transfer a batch of small items and harder to cover.  On the other hand, I find that additional spritzing makes no noticeable difference with smaller items, maybe because they cook more quickly. The last time I made breadsticks I poured water into pans and left it at that.


The most obvious thing I've noticed about the quality of conventional ovens is the gasket that seals the oven door.  Poorly made ovens typically have a flimsy rubber gasket that goes 3/4 of the way around the oven door, whereas a well-made and insulated oven will have a steel mesh wrapped gasket that goes all the way around the front of the oven rather than on the door itself.


@EvaB:  Sounds like a fun project for the summer.  I've been looking for a new place to live with that project in mind.  If you search on Flickr there are photos of different types of brick and mud ovens, some that are built into a deck or patio.  Some are made without bricks, I think.


 

EvaB's picture
EvaB

Are not that easy to make, and I know the first time I had a bunch ready to cure, it would decide to rain for a week! That is just the way my life goes, I've thought of that though, and may wind up doing it, who knows, I could probably dig lots of clay and make adobe brick and fire it in a clampette, but that would be a lot of work for an oven, but then again, who knows.


First I have to find out why my stomach is acting up like it is, and then I might feel more like doing more work.


DH is home for three weeks, so am going to get him to help me haul more brick, and hopefully get enough so I don't have to go the make my own route.


Good luck on finding some place you can build one, and enjoy it if you get it.

Gourmand2go's picture
Gourmand2go

Last night I was mixing up a cheesecake and could not get my oven to heat up properly.  I'd made bread several days before and it'd been rainy since then, so I guess the electronics were damp.


So, I had to try baking the cake in my 12x12" Procter Silex inexpensive (free actually, with AirMiles) toaster oven.


It did a beautiful job!


After a little research I learned that this particular brand has a reputation for fairly accurate temperature settings.  I have a thick wooden cutting board resting on top for added insulation.  It really doesn't heat up the room as badly as the large oven and the outside doesn't get hot, so I may try more items this way.


I'm waiting to see what my next electricity bill looks like. . . .


 


P.S.:  Found an inexpensive power monitor here:


http://store.greengadgets.ca/products/P4400.html