Saturday, January 27, 2007

Baking Challenges

I have no doubt cooked more since arriving here than I have in a number of years. I am actually baking bread! Whats more, I'm enjoying doing so!
I have adapted to a European oven and its settings, which are quite different from ours in the States. Many ingredients are available in Szolnok, but few are available in Ujszasz. Since any items purchased in Szolnok must be hauled in bags, first by bus, then by foot to the train station, on the train, back by foot to our flat --- this really limits what we will purchase in Szolnok. Therefore, I am cooking with a select group of basic ingredients and trying to be creative within that selection.
Breads have been plain old white, potato-cheese and corn flour yeast bread. More recipes are waiting to be tried out.
Deserts are limited to basic ingredients also. I've used apples a lot since they are readily available. I will try banana bread and walnut bread soon. The walnuts are harvested from our yard and first must be cracked and the nutmeats removed.
In our flat we have one bread loaf pan which I use for all baking, both breads and deserts. I have been looking for an 8x8 square cake pan for a month now. No luck yet.
Someone needs to make a fortune by selling cake mixes, etc. here in Hungary. No such things are available even in the biggest grocery stores. Everything must be made from scratch. There are only 3 kinds of cookies available in stores and they need to be dunked first before eating! No cake flour, so I stay away from cakes because they turn out coarse.
Also, no baking chocolate or chocolate chips.
Rye, whole wheat, etc. flours are not available. White bread is a Hungarian staple.
More as I branch out and try other things!


Anonymous said...

In Budapest there is a huge variety of different types of baking flour available, way more, I think, than the average store in the States would have (Hungarians are generally avid bakers). I don't know how good your Hungarian is, but maybe it's there and you can't understand the label (that has happened to me so many times!). The baking chocolate goes by the name Katica, and is quite good, looks like a candy bar in a red wrapper! Good luck next time!

sara said...

Hey Donna!
I've been doing quite alot of baking myself since I've been here and have found a few different varities of flour- one was wheat and I think the other was graham. Basically I've just been buying interesting things that I find on the same shelves as other baking ingrediants and then opening them up, smelling, tasting and experimenting- I did manage to find yeast, baking powder and baking soda as well and struck out when a mystery packet ended up being volatile salt (the disadvantages of the tasting method) Last week I (happily)confused all of my teachers when I brought in zuchini bread! happy baking!!