A week ago I got a project from my mom's friend which I had to make 50 small jars of cookies for her. She has a palm sugar business in Manado and she sells palm sugar (duh) and alcohol made out of palm sugar - I didn't even know that's possible. So she was going to join a big business fair in Manado and she wants to design a basket of her products. But she was saying that selling plain ol' palm sugar to the mass is rather boring, so she ordered the cookies to show ready-to-be-consumed product made out of her palm sugar.
|These are palm sugar & almond cookies|
The order was 50 small jars of shortbread cookies. 1 jar contains 15 cookies, so 50 jars equals 750 cookies. Might not be as many as other home bakeries that gets cookie orders for Idul Fitri or Christmas, but 750 cookies surely made me question my sanity at that moment, especially when you only have an electric oven with a size of a microwave. Gulp.
With a lot of blood, sweat and tears, I somehow managed to pull off 750 pieces of cookies in one night (from scratch). The oven can only carry 1 tray at a time so there were a lot of tray shifting and cookie slicing action.
Seeing me doing all that, my parents felt that it's time for me to get a bigger oven.
The next day, we went to a baking supply store and got me a shiny 80cm x 40cm Golden Star gas oven. The oven I have been dreaming of.
To my overseas readers, Golden Star is Indonesian company producing and selling kitchen equipments and has been a trusted brand for a lot of home and big bakeries for years.
Say hello to my not-so-little-friend!!
I put the oven upstairs in my designated outdoor-slash-rooftop kitchen,
which has a good ventilation so the house wont get too hot when I'm baking.
However, this oven is still manual. There is no indicator knob to turn the heat up and down. The only knobs on this oven are the knobs that control the flow of gas, which is how you control the flames inside. Luckily, there's a built in thermometer on oven's door, so it helps a lot to see whether the oven has reached the desired temperature or not. There are some unique techniques that I need to practice with this oven. Well, as any other gadgets, I still need to do a lot of experiment with this beauty so I know how this things work and eventually (and hopefully) I will be the boss of my oven!
There's a cool trick the oven-guy told me the day I got my oven installed at home..
So on the day the oven arrived, the only thing that I need to prepare were just the gas tank and pandan leaves. Pandan leaves, you said?
Yes. Pandan leaves.
Was a bit skeptical about it..
What in the world do you do with pandan leaves in a new oven?
Bake a pandan cake right after I get my oven?
So I got the pandan leaves ready (I asked my neighbor for it, since she has quiet a few in her garden), and the oven guy came. He started to do all the mechanical things and when he finished, he asked me to put the pandan leaves on 2 baking pans and shove it in the oven. He then taught me how to do the flame setting and then told me to toast the pandan leaves inside the oven for 30 minutes until it gets crispy and dry. whuttt?
He later explained to me that we are toasting the pandan leaves to get rid of the factory-paint smell inside the oven. Because pandan leaves are very fragrant, it is the weapon of choice for this task. He said coffee can also be used for this, but for many years, pandan leaves has been the prefered choice because its fragrance compliments most cakes, while coffee can be a bit overwhelming.
So I did what they told me to do, and toasted the leaves for 30 minutes until there is no significant paint smell coming from the oven anymore. The next day, I was beyond excited to try baking with this new oven but I was too lazy to make anything from scratch (oh, the irony). Lucky I still got some leftover frozen palmier cookies at home, so it was just a matter of defrosting, cutting and then baking them. snap. snap. snap.
The oven shows that it does a good job in distributing the heat properly, my palmiers got a chance to puff up, turn golden brown, without having the sugar gets too burnt. Was using the bottom heat only for this. My mom was so happy when I brought a mountain of palmiers downstairs.
Well I guess I am incharge of snacks in this house now.
ps. My family are hardcore snackers.