A disgruntled librarian packs it up and leaves fabulous New York City behind,
going on random global adventures,
while simultaneously promoting literacy
and spreading the love of the written word.

Friday, February 4, 2011

i am not a professional baker

if you read my old blog, you may remember that i have a fondness for baking.  and yet, here in buenos aires i have made very few baked goods.  why, you ask?  because i cannot figure out how.

first, i had a hell of a time finding ingredients such as baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar, etc.  it makes me wonder if everyone just makes their baked goods from a mix.  but eventually i was able to locate some (not all!) of these essential items.

but then we have the problem with the ovens ... you see, when i bake things, usually i like to set the oven at a specific temperature.  usually 350 degrees.  sometimes 375 degrees.  but this is an impossibility here.  please see the oven at left.

you may notice that there are NO NUMBERS anywhere to be found.  now, for the stove i guess numbers aren't really necessary.  but i ask you, how are you supposed to figure out what temperature to cook things when all you are given to work with is a picture of a big flame and a little flame?  at first i thought maybe we just had a shitty oven, but then i learned that everyone has ovens like these in their homes.

so i asked an argentine how you are supposed to bake under these conditions, and he was quite shocked that i had a problem with this system.  "why do you need to know the temperature?" he asked, "certainly you can tell if the oven is hot, no?"

yes, i can in fact tell when an oven is hot.  i have that power.  but i explained that i wanted to know the exact temperature.

"why," he asked, "are you a professional baker or something?"

well, this stunned me a little.  am i asking for too much? am i being a baking prima donna?  so i decided to quit my whining, and i set off to bake some cookies.

now, let me tell you that cookies are hard to find here in argentina.  sure, they sell oreos and chips ahoy in the supermarket, and i have become quite fond of the dulce de leche sandwich cookie goodness which is an alfajor,  but try to find a good old fashioned homemade chocolate chip cookie and you're shit out of luck.

so it was with great sadness when my cookie baking experiment turned out like this.  first off, i have no idea why the cookies did not expand and rise like normal cookies.  instead they remained as little balls of cookie dough.  (i blame the baking powder).  second, the oven temperature was obviously too high making it impossible for the cookies to be baked on top without being severely burned on the bottom.  and finally, although the non-burned parts tasted okay, they more closely resembled biscotti than a chocolate chip cookie.  (again, i blame the baking powder).

this baking disaster took place in our old apartment, and during the baking the window of the oven actually FELL OUT of the oven door.  i'm sure that didn't help matters.  anyway, i have yet to attempt to bake again in our new apartment.  probably because i am not a professional, and am therefore unqualified.


  1. How the heck are you supposed to bake with no numbers. I am totally stunned. I mean...seriously, what the crap!?!?

  2. Do they sell little oven thermometers that you can put on the shelf inside? Baking needs such precision that I can't imagine how else you could do it with an oven like that. I'm going to have to re-think my plans to settle in South America if it means no choc-chip cookies (although my waistline would improve immeasurably)

  3. I had to include your chocotorta on my Valentine's Day blogroll because it is ridiculously sexy.

  4. i suppose there are oven thermometers somewhere, but i have yet to find them.

  5. and yes, the chocotorta is a damned sexy dessert ... kind of like a south american tiramasu.

  6. does anybody - besides professional bakers -bake in argentina?