- Submitted by Dahlia
(Baking Ingredients in Chennai)
I have shared several baking recipes in my website. Most of those I made when I was living in the United States. I developed my passion for baking while I was there. The baking items were so easily available there. There used to be a whole aisle in all supermarkets that had all sorts of things that you would need for baking. It was so interesting and easy.
Things changed totally after we moved back to India. I tried to recreate all my cake and cookie recipes. It was a struggle for me to find all the ingredients initially. I managed to make a few basic cakes in my new LG 3-in-1 oven, which had the microwave, convection and the grill mode. The cooking time also varied. The hot and humid climate in Chennai (the place I live now) made it difficult to whip up cream and work with cookie dough. I asked my friends but found that most of them used their oven only for re-heating food. I found very little help.
My mom used to bake cakes in her electric oven, since when I was a child. I remember my dad specially going to the shop to buy exactly measured out butter, flour etc. The whole cake baking process used to be such a tedious one. Of course, she enjoyed baking cakes during Christmas, New Year and our birthdays. She used to bake coconut cake, plum cake and sponge cake most of the time.
Today after much searching I have managed to find most of the items here in Chennai. I want to list down the exact places and the online sites where I purchase. It will be helpful for those of you who are interested in baking. I will keep updating the list as and when I find something new. If you want to share some useful tips, please do so by sending a comment. It will be helpful to everyone.
In India, all the big brands sell both electric oven and microwave oven with convection mode. My mom had an electric oven which she used to take from the top storage racks whenever she wanted to bake. OTG is also a good option. I went for the LG 3-in-1 oven which has the microwave mode, convection mode and the grill mode. This occupies less space and can be used for multiple tasks.
I use the microwave mainly for reheating or for cooking vegetables. For cake I do not prefer microwaving, except for my Instant mug cake recipe.
Convection mode is good for baking cakes, cookies, pizza, bread or even non veg. Heat comes from an electric coil on top. A fan in the back of the oven makes sure that the heat gets evenly distributed. Also, the glass turntable keeps rotating the pan making sure all sides receive heat. Most of the time the cooking time may vary depending on the type of pan you use. It could be 5-10 minutes less or more.
Grill mode I use for making Rotisserie style Chicken. It can also be used to get a crispy topping in baked dishes.
For all those who want to start baking, I would recommend investing in a microwave oven with convection mode from any good brand. Baking can be done on stove top using a heavy bottomed kadai or pressure cooker too. I personally feel it takes too much time and gas cylinders get empty faster. The colour of the cakes are not even as in the oven because the heat come only from the bottom. The texture will be fine. I have given the amazon link of the oven that I have been using for the past 7 years now.
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2. Baking Pans
Baking pans like the round cake pan, square tin, muffin cups are easily available in big supermarkets. Most commonly seen are the aluminum pans. They work perfectly fine except that you need to grease the pans thoroughly with butter and dust with flour. Otherwise you will have difficulty removing the cake out of the pan.
I have bought non-stick pans from local shop known as Variety Center. Chennai people will be familiar with the shop. It has many branches. I have also purchased a few from Poppat Jamals. Non-stick pans are easy to grease and clean. I own a 9" round spring form pan, 8" square pan, 6 cup muffin tray, loaf pan and a bunt pan. Other than these, I got a 9" round pan along with the oven. These pans are sufficient to make variety of cakes, cookies, pizza and bread. Beginners should at least have a 7" or 8" round pan. I have given the link for one below.
The other type of pans are one made with silicon. These do not need dusting with flour. Just a slight greasing will do. It is flexible which help to remove the cake easily. On the other hand, silicon pan are difficult to transfer to the oven. I have a 7" round silicon cake an and a set of 12 muffin cups.
Finally there are also ceramic, cast iron and glass pans available. It takes a long time to cook in these. I have a rectangular ceramic baking dish and a glass pie plate.
3. Baking Tools
Other tools required for baking are measuring cups and spoons, hand whisk, electric whisk, spatula, digital kitchen weighing scale, kitchen thermometer, cookie cutters, cake decoration tips, parchment paper, cup cake liners etc.. All of these I bought from Saravana Stores, Padi branch. I have also seen them at Nilgiris and Variety center. You can also find these online.
If you are just beginning to bake, start with just a hand whisk. As you get confident, you can think of investing in an electric hand blender or stand mixer. Electric hand mixers are available in all popular brands. I own a Presteige mixer.
4. Ingredients for Baking
The ingredients needed for baking are flour, cocoa powder, chocolate bars, chocolate chips, vanilla extract and other essences, frozen berries, canned berry glaze, baking powder, baking soda, yeast, cinnamon powder, vanilla pods, icing sugar, brown sugar, whipping cream, cream cheese etc. The list goes on.
Most of these ingredients are available in Nilgiris Supermarket. I have also bought these items in Sathosh Supermarket, Annanagar. Some specific ingredients like flaxseed powder, maple syrup, frozen berries, vanilla pods, different kinds of nuts like hazelnuts can be bought from Wait Rose, Browntree or Nuts and Spices.
The only things I haven't been able to find so far is whipping cream. I do get whipping cream powder but honestly the taste is not the same as the one made with heavy whipping cream. Recently I found Amul's whipping cream online, a red colour packet. It is available in Big Basket. I have not been able to find the Non-dairy whipped topping in any supermarkets so far. I heard that Wait Rose has it but yet to check out. I'll surely update once I find that.
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