Archive for the 'Dehydration' Category

13
Jun
12

Banana Fudge And Berry Tart (Dehydrated)

[ Equipment: dehydrator or oven, 9-inch pie pan (7-1/2 inch diameter bottom). For more information about the terminology in this recipe, see Low Temperature Baking: A Journey of 3 Paths ].

This recipe began as an idea for a dehydrated pie. The crust is a variation on dehydrated peanut butter cookies, one of my earliest warm-air-baked cookies on VaporBaker. For a softer crust, increase the amount of peanut butter or a legume butter, as suggested below. Adding more coconut flour would give a crumblier crust. The banana fudge could be served on its own. I’d shape it in a fancy mold and present it with a drizzle of sweet fruit coulis.

I ground my own oat flour from processing traditional rolled oats. The coconut flour is just unsweetened coconut flakes chopped down in a food processor too. I would not substitute the blueberry craisins, as they play off the chocolate background very nicely without commandeering attention. If the local market doesn’t stock blueberry craisins, a mix of chopped dried sweetened cranberries and dried blueberries could work.

At 210 calories per serving, I think of this tart as an affordable dessert, but it could be even lighter with low-sugar ingredients. The maple syrup could be one of those no-sugar syrups. I’ve tried one (Maple Farms) and it works fine. Granulated sucralose or other granulated sweetener could stand in for the sugar. A legume butter in the pie crust dough would cut the calories of the peanut butter. (I don’t recommend a legume butter in step 1 of the assembly, because the peanut butter is meant to be a waterproof coating for the dried crust.) That’s a total reduction of over 400 calories per tart or 50 calories per serving.

This semi-raw tart can be made 100% raw by replacing the maple syrup with a liquid sweetener like honey. Although the tart can be optionally chilled before serving, it is a true dehydrated pastry that doesn’t need refrigeration. The recipe dehydrates at a higher 150°F/65.6°C temperature, to accelerate the preparation, which may impact flavor slightly. However, this tart has flavor to spare.

Makes 8 servings
– 210 calories per serving
– Oven Temperature: 150°F/65.6°C dehydrator

Tart Crust:

  • 1/2 cup oat flour (coarsely ground – see text)
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour (see text)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons peanut butter or legume butter (see text)
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup

Banana Fudge:

  • 1 large banana (8 inches)
  • 1 medium zucchini (5 to 6 oz.)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup blueberry craisins

Assembly:

  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 3 or 4 dried apricots

Tart Crust Method:

1. In a medium bowl, combine the oat flour and coconut flour.

2. Stir in the maple syrup and 2 tablespoons peanut butter to form a moist, pebbly meal.

3. Press the dough into a greased, 9-inch pie pan, covering just the bottom of the pan.

4. Perforate the dough every 1/2 inch.

5. Dehydrate for about 2 to 3 hours until the dough has pulled away from the sides of the pan. If pushed a little, the entire crust should loosen in one piece. Do NOT unmold the crust. Set aside.

Banana Fudge Method:

1. In the small to medium bowl of a food processor, finely chop 1 zucchini.

2. Add the banana and maple syrup. Process until mixture becomes a whipped puree.

3. Add sugar and cocoa powder and process for about 1 minute.

4. Add vanilla and cinnamon, and process until well combined.

5. Pour mixture into a baking dish and spread out. Dehydrate for 3 to 4 hours until about 1/3 original volume. Every hour, stir the mixture to break any skin formed on the surface.

6. Mix in the blueberry craisins.

Assembly Method:

1. Soften 3 tablespoons of peanut butter in the microwave (about 15 to 20 seconds). Spread a thin layer of peanut butter over the top of the tart crust.

2. Cover the top of the crust evenly with the banana fudge. Spread the fudge with the back of a spoon.

3. Slice the dried apricots into thin slivers and sprinkle over the fudge.

4. If desired, cover and chill the tart for about 30 minutes to an hour before serving.

Advertisements
12
May
12

Chicken Stuffing Bread (Dehydrated)

The flavors and texture remind me of bread stuffing for chicken. To convert the recipe to 100% raw, omit the bouillon and crushed cereal. I only had tomato-chicken bouillon powder in my food bin. The cereal serves as a solid leavener, and is optional. It’s best made with fresh celery; week-old celery is almost no better than cardboard. Any commercial oat flour should be fine, but it’s just as easy to grind oatmeal in a food processor. The coconut flour keeps the bread pliable; otherwise the texture turns a little hard and brittle after a long period in the dehydrator. I finely ground unsweetened shredded coconut in a food processor to make coconut flour. The 1-1/2 hour dehydration time is at a temperature of 150°F/65.6°C. A lower temperature of 125°F/51.7°C will preserve enzymes and vitamins better, but increase the time to between 2 and 2-1/2 hours.

Makes 6 servings
– 92 calories per serving
– 125-150°F/51.7-65.6°C

  • 1 cup oat flour, coarsely ground (see text)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour or finely ground dried coconut (see text)
  • 1/2 cup very finely chopped or pureed celery (about 2 stalks)
  • 2 teaspoons tomato-chicken or other bouillon or 1 tablespoon soy sauce or 3/4 teaspoon salt (see text)
  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered chili peppers
  • 3/4 cup puffed wheat or puffed rice squares cereal – optional
  • 2 egg whites


1. Put puffed wheat or rice squares into a small plastic bag and crush with fingers or pulse a few times in the small bowl of a food processor.

2. In a small bowl, whisk the oat flour and coconut flour until well combined.

3. In a food processor, blend the egg whites and chopped celery until mixture is thick and foamy, about 1 to 2 minutes.

4. Add bouillon powder and chili powder to celery foam to flour and pulse a few times until combined.

5. Pour celery mixture into the flour and stir until combined. Add the crushed puffed wheat or rice squares and stir until combined.

6. Scoop dough into a greased 8-inch square pan. With the back of a spoon, press dough into bottom of pan.

7. Perforate dough every 1/2 inch with a 1/8 inch skewer. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.

8. Dehydrate at 150°F/65.6°C for about 60 minutes. Slice into 6 rectanges. Lift and transfer upside down to baking sheet covered with a non-stick mat. Slices should be at least 1/4-inch apart.

9. Continue dehydrating for another 30 minutes at 150°F/65.6°C.

10. Serve or store in an airtight container. The last picture below is the bread without a solid leavener (cereal). It’s a bit more than half as thick as the leavened bread.


03
May
12

Rooibos Hazelnut Spread Cookies (Dehydrated)

A semi-raw cookie with 5-ingredients with a nice balance of flavors. The powdered Rooibos tea comes from a Rooibos teabag. Bosc pears tend to be drier than other pears. Pureeing the Bosc pear adds just enough moisture to bind the dough, but is mild in taste and doesn’t overpower the tea. I tried doubling the amount of Rooibos to 2 teaspoons (the entire teabag), but felt the acidic balance tipped against the chocolate. If increasing the amount of tea for stronger Rooibos flavor, I would add a bit of sugar in the pear mixture to blunt the sharpness.

The store-bought chocolate-hazelnut spread (Nutella or equivalent) isn’t raw, but I’ve seen recipes for a raw version that could probably work as a substitute. I shaped the cookies by pressing the dough level into a tablespoon measure and gently prying them loose with same skewer for perforating the cookies (the perforations speed drying time). At the given dehydration temperature and drying times, the cookies bake up soft on the inside.

Makes 16 cookies
– 50 calories per cookie
– Oven Temperature: 125ºF/51.7ºC

  • 1 cup oat flour (coarsely ground – see text)
  • 1 teaspoon powdered Rooibos tea
  • 1/4 cup hazelnut chocolate spread
  • 1 medium bosc pear (3.5 oz)
  • pinch salt

1. In a small bowl of a food processor, finely chop 1 Bosc pear.


2. Add the Rooibos tea, hazelnut spread and salt. Process until smooth.


3. Add wet ingredients to oat flour. Mix to form a dough. Let dough rest for 5 minutes to solidify to consistency of wet clay. If dough is too soft to hold its shape, mix in 1 or 2 tablespoons of oat flour and let rest another 5 minutes.

4. Form cookies from 1 level tablespoon of dough and place on lined dehydrator tray or a nonstick baking sheet for oven dehydration. Perforate each cookie with a 1/8-inch skewer 4 times.

5. Dehydrate at 125ºF/51.7ºC for 2 hours. Top surface of cookies should feel dry and crisp.

6. Turn cookies over. Dehydrate for another 2 hours.


7. Cool and serve.

31
Mar
12

Soaked and Sprouted, Three-Grain Essene Bread (Dehydrated)

[ Equipment: food dehydrator or low-temperature-capable convection oven, an 8-inch square cake pan. For more information about the terminology in this recipe, see Low Temperature Baking: A Journey of 3 Paths. ]

The Essenes were a religious community that lived in various locations in the Middle East. According to the Wikipedia, Essene bread is a low-temperature-baked bread made with sprouted wheat. I found several recipes for it on the web, baked at temperatures ranging from 115F to 300F. Like flour soaking, sprouting the grain helps release nutrients and neutralizes phytic acid. My version of Essene bread contains sprouted and soaked grains as well as an optional solid leavener – puffed wheat. Without the puffed wheat, the bread is 100% raw.

The 3 grains are wheat, oats and lentils. Typically, Essene bread is made with sprouted wheat. I had whole wheat flour in the food bin. This is my first raw recipe made with raw wheat flour, soaked for several hours in an acid medium. Soaking frees up nutrients, takes away the raw taste and softens the grainy flavor of whole wheat. Lemon juice can substitute for the vinegar. If the flour soaks at room temperature (typically how it’s done), it darkens a little. The color stabilizes if the batter chills in the refrigerator.

Lentils are beans but I’ve seen them in Essene bread recipes. The trick with sprouted lentils: don’t let them sprout too long or they turn too bitter for a raw bread – at least for my palate. They’re best (munchable and sweet) when the root tails measure between 1/8 and 1/4 inch. Oat flour: buy raw or make by grinding oats in a food processor. I like a coarsely ground oat flour for dehydration baking.

The picture above is a close-up of the holes in the bread from skewer pressings and the expansion of the puffed wheat. As the bread dehydrates, small spaces develop around the grains of puffed wheat to aerate the dough. The puffed wheat expands when moistened and then shrinks when dried, leaving gaps. Re-dried puffed wheat tastes crunchier and adds a toasted flavor to the bread.

Makes 6 servings
– 120 calories per serving
– Oven Temperature: 125°F/51.7°C

  • 3/4 cup coarsely ground oat flour
  • 1/2 cup lentil sprouts (1/4 cup dried lentils) or other sprouts
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 teaspoons vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon powdered garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper or chili powder
  • 3/4 cup puffed wheat

1. In a medium bowl, soak 1/4 cup lentils for 8 hours. Drain, rinse, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 16 hours. Lentils should have sprouted with roots about 1/8 to 1/4 inch long. Set aside.

2. In a small bowl, mix the whole wheat flour, water and vinegar. Let sit for at least 8 to 24 hours in the refrigerator. Taste the soaking liquid. Soak is ready when the liquid no longer tastes tart or acid.

3. In a small food processor, pulse chop the puffed wheat until grains are about 1/3 size. Alternatively, put the puffed wheat in a small plastic bag and crush them to about 1/3 size. Set aside.

4. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, salt, garlic and chili powder until well combined.

5. In the small bowl of a food processor, puree soaked flour (with soaking liquid) and 3/4 cup of lentil sprouts for 1 to 2 minutes until smooth.

6. Add the sprout-soaked flour mixture to the oat flour and mix until moistened.

7. Add the crushed puffed wheat and mix until evenly distributed.

8. Grease an 8-inch square pan. Drop dough into pan in chunks. With the back of a spoon, press dough into bottom of the pan.

9. With a 1/8-inch skewer, perforate the dough to the bottom, the holes spaced about 1/2 inch apart. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes. Dehydrate at 150°F/65.6°C for about 30 minutes. Reduce to 125°F/51.7°C and dehydrate for another 30 minutes.


10. Cut bread into 6 slices. Lift each slice with a spatula. Turn over and transfer to a baking sheet covered with a silicone mat. Perforate each slice with a skewer and continue dehydrating for another 30 minutes at 125F/51.7C.


11. The bread is sturdy enough to hold the sandwich by hand, but it’s even neater when wrapped in wax paper.

18
Mar
12

Apricot Chamomile Scones (Dehydrated, Low Sugar/Fat)

[ Equipment: food dehyrator or low-temperature-capable convection oven, an 8-inch round cake pan. For more information about the terminology in this recipe, see Low Temperature Baking: A Journey of 3 Paths. ]

After my dehydrated lavender brownies, I wanted to try a dehydrated pastry with a denser, more crumbly texture. Once again, I thought about using the dough from one of the dehydrated cookie recipes, but even a spoonful of that dough without the solid leavener contains enough calories to wreck a healthy eating habit. A regular blueberry scone from Starbucks coffee house weighs in at 120 grams and 460 calories. An equivalent weight apricot chamomile scone from this recipe contains 384 calories. Neither scone would qualify exactly as diet food, but the apricot scones have a lovely soft texture, with lots of raw grain (if made with raw oat flour) and fruits, with a surprising sweetness that really satisfies.

Apricots and chamomile complement each other’s flavors, both mild and sweet. The recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of chamomile flowers. These are the whole flowers for a strong cup of tea. I made the coconut flour by coarsely grinding dried, unsweetened coconut flakes in a food processor. The coarse grind gives a crumbly texture to the dough, reminiscent of a baked scone. The sugar is a blend of regular brown sugar and sucralose. An equivalent amount of regular white sugar or powdered sucralose (packets) should work just as well as the specified granulated version. The rice squares function as a solid leavener and help aerate the dough and build volume. They’re totally optional, because the scones are delicious without them.

Makes 8 scones (approx. 80 gr. each)
– 240 calories per scone
– Oven Temperature: 125°F/51.7°C

  • 8 dried apricots
  • 2 heaping teaspoons chamomile flowers or 2 chamomille teabags
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 cups oat flour (coarsely ground – see text)
  • 1 cup coconut flour (coarsely ground – see text)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sucralose or sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup rice squares cereal (optional)
  • 1/2 cup raisins

1. In a small bowl, infuse chamomile in the boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes. Add apricots and soak for about an hour.

2. Remove apricots. Drain liquid, discarding chamomile flowers. Set aside apricots and liquid.

3. In a large bowl, mix the oat flour and coconut flour until well combined.

4. In a small food processor bowl or hand blender cup, puree the apricots, egg white and chamomile tea.

5. Add sucralose and brown sugar and blend.

6. Add vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt and blend until smooth.

7. Pour liquid mixture into flour mixture and mix until thoroughly moistened.

8. Add raisins and mix.

9. Add rice squares cereal and gently mix until well combined. Try not to crush the cereal.

10. Pat the dough into an 8-inch cake pan. Perforate the dough by pressing a 1/8-inch skewer all the way down into the dough at 1/2-inch intervals.

11. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for about 30 minutes.

12.  Bake at 150°F/65.5°C for 30 minutes. Then reduce temperature to 125°F/51.7°C and continue baking for 3 hours.

13. Invert scones onto a cookie sheet with a baking mat. Perforate the dough again at 1/2-inch intervals.

14. Bake at 125°F/51.7°C for another 3 hours.

15. Slice scones into 8 wedges and serve.

21
Feb
12

Mint Lavender Brownies (Dehydrated, Low Sugar/Fat)

[ Equipment: food dehyrator or low-temperature-capable convection oven, an 8-inch square cake pan. For more information about the terminology in this recipe, see Low Temperature Baking: A Journey of 3 Paths ].

These semi-raw, moist, chewy brownies scented of mint and lavender have been packed with grains, fresh and dried fruits and nuts, but weigh in at less than 1/2 the calories and 1/5 the fat of commercial raw brownies made from date and nut pastes. The solid leavener (puffed rice squares cereal) transforms the oat flour dough into a pseudo-cake with a soft, coarse crumb. It’s also the only non-raw ingredient and could be omitted to make 100% raw brownies.

It was my first dehydrated cake. In raw cuisine, a cake is constructed from layers of date and nut pastes, often chilled or frozen for firm slicing. I wanted a cake with a lighter texture, however. Plus, a cake on VaporBaker should be baked; chilled cakes didn’t truly qualify. The raw cookie doughs from my earlier dehydration recipes would be too firm or crumbly to fashion into cakes. They had binders of a nut or legume butter sweetened with honey or a syrup, binders that broke apart too easily for a chewy-type brownie.

For this recipe, I coarsely ground oatmeal in a food processor to make oat flour in a ratio of 1-1/4 cup oatmeal per 1 cup of oat flour. A maple syrup, raisin and banana puree formed a very flexible binder, because the hydrophilic fruits dehydrated slowly into a sticky adhesive. A large banana alone pureed with the syrup could probably have held the cake together as well, but the raisins helped darken the binder to blend well with the cocoa.

The brownies can be made without a leavener, but puffed rice squares substantiated the texture by adding volume without impacting the taste. Regular puffed rice cereal (individually puffed grains of rice) might not work as well as the squares, which trap more air in the dough. Do not substitute a puffed grain containing gluten (such as puffed wheat or puffed kamut). The gluten stretches too much when moist for a rubbery mouth feel.

I’ve been experimenting with low-fat, low sugar ingredients, but only recently extended that paradigm to dehydrated pastries. Alternative no-calorie sweeteners like sucralose didn’t behave like sugar other than as a sweetener. For example, the sugar-free maple syrup from Maple Grove Farms (the only brand in my local market) lacked the body and tack of regular syrup, so I left it to the banana-raisin puree to supply both flavor and adhesion for the dough. For those who avoid sucralose and all the other alternative sweeteners, I have also given sugar-based options.

The perforations in the dough helped speed the evaporation of moisture. The brownies are heated at a relatively high temperature of 150°F/65.5°C for the first hour to warm up the dough quickly and reduce the overall dehydration time (less than 3 hours total). Those with more time could dehydrate at 125°F/51.7°C throughout.

Although these brownies must refrigerated because they contain fresh fruit and will spoil at room temperature, they will harden when chilled. A few minutes in the dehydrator brings them back to life.

Makes 12 servings
– 100 calories/3g fat per serving
– Oven Temperature: 125-150°F/51.7-65.5°C

  • 2 cups coarsely-ground oat flour (see text)
  • 1/2 tablespoon lavender flowers
  • 1 teaspoon crushed mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup natural cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup sucralose-sweetened maple syrup or dark agave syrup (see text)
  • 4 packets powdered sucralose or 1/8 cup sugar
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely ground coffee bean or instant coffee
  • 1 cup puffed rice squares cereal (Rice Chex)
  • 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds (optional)

232 cal/15 g fat

1. Cover raisins, lavender flowers and mint leaves in hot water and soak about 1 hour or until plump. Drain, reserving raisins, lavender flowers and mint. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, mix oat flour (w/lavender), salt, cocoa powder until well combined.

3. In a blending cup, puree maple syrup, raisin mixture, vanilla extract, salt, coffee powder and sucralose with an immersion blender until smooth (or do this in a blender).

4. Add banana, cut into small chunks, and blend until smooth. Total volume should be around 1-1/2 cups.

5. Pour wet ingredients into flour mixture and stir until moistened.

6. Stir in sunflower seeds.


7. Add puffed rice squares cereal and stir gently until evenly distributed. Try to avoid crushing the cereal.

8. Grease 8-inch square pan. Press dough into the pan. With 1/8 inch skewer, perforate the dough through to the bottom of the pan at 1/2-inch intervals.

9. Dehydrate at 150°F/65.5°C for 1 hour. Reduce heat to 125°F/51.7°C and dehydrate for another 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Brownies should be firm, moist but not soggy. Score into 12 squares.

Store brownies in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Warm them before serving.

15
Dec
11

Appliance Review: LTB In A Cuisinart Convection Toaster Oven

[ Equipment: digital convection oven, cookie sheet, 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 x 2-1/2 (inch) loaf pan, 8 inch square cake pan. For more information about the terminology in this recipe, see Low Temperature Baking: A Journey of 3 Paths ].

Until now, all the slow-baked pastries I’ve made have been 7 inches or less in diameter, the maximum size that will fit in my temperature-controlled slow-cooker oven. When I resolved to try making them in standard size pans (8 inch or larger rounds and squares), I ordered a digital convection toaster oven (a Cuisinart CTO-395 with Exact Heat sensor) for these bigger jobs. The CTO-395’s 0.6cu capacity sits somewhere between a regular toaster oven and a full-size counter-top oven.

The circulating heat and top/bottom heating elements not only bake food faster but also more consistently, even at 250°F/121°C. General LTB recipe guidelines still apply, however, and the convection feature does reduce baking time. The CTO-395 dehydrates foods very quickly too. With a second baking rack, I’d be able to dry two trays of food at once. Cuisinart sells extra racks for $14 each.

The digital thermostat keeps the temperature fairly stable (no more fidgeting with the heat dial), but I continue to monitor it with a thermometer. Since this toaster oven consumes around 1800 watts, it’s not even close to matching a slow cooker for energy efficiency. For large scale LTB baking (entertaining) and recipe testing, it’s my appliance of choice. Prices for digital counter-top ovens have fallen drastically. many going for less than $100 US. I’ve seen the Cuisinart CTO-395 on sale for less than the price of a high-end plain bread toaster.

Below are the results of some of my tests baking and dehydrating with the convection oven. With the exception of the banana chips, the tests were run with prepared mixes and doughs from my local market, so I could get some idea of how well convection ovens bake at low temperature. All required some modification to the instructions or to the mix for good turnouts.

First up is Jiffy Blueberry Muffin Mix, which I made into a cake in an 8-inch square pan, following instructions on the box.

The picture above shows slices from two Jiffy cakes, one baked at 375°F/190°C on the left and the other at 250°F/121°C. The high temperature one rose higher and fluffier, but was dry, virtually tasteless, almost like eating cotton. The Jiffy mix contains artificial blueberries, which apparently lose their aroma and flavor when baked at high temperature. The 250°F cake retained the blueberry flavor, had a moist, dense texture, and I could also taste the eggs.

To boost the LTB cake’s height, I added 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder to the mix. That cake rose higher in the oven, but collapsed, because the center didn’t heat up fast enough. In the picture above, I covered the pan with aluminum foil and cut out a 4-inch hole so that the batter in the center would bake faster.

This picture compares two Jiffy cakes baked at 250°F/121°C for 35 minutes (about 60% more time than at 375°F/190°C). The top one is the plain mix, baked in an uncovered pan. The second one contains the extra baking powder and was baked in the foil-covered pan as described in the preceding paragraph. It rose to the same height as the high temperature cake with similar browning on the edges.

The texture of the second cake is as fluffy as the high temperature but with stronger blueberry and egg flavor.

Next trial was Nestle Toll House prepared cookie dough. Out of the package, the dough is scored into 12 chunks for 12 “big” cookies.

The instructions said to break off pieces of the dough and place them on the baking sheet. To help the cookies bake faster, I flattened the chunks into 2-inch disks.

The recommended oven temperature was 325°F/163°C for about 10-15 minutes. I baked them at 250°F/121°C for about 15-20 minutes until the edges were a light golden color.

In the pictures, I only made a batch of 3 cookies, but the baking sheet (a 10-inch sheet from Wilton) could accommodate 4 of them, and up to 6 cookies with careful placement. Each chunk of dough spread out into a 3-1/4 inch cookie. LTB Toll House cookies fresh from the oven: such intense chocolate, milk and molasses flavors that one cookie satisfies like a whole box of the regular kind.

The oven can fit a 8.5 x 4.5 x 2.5 inch loaf pan, so I made a chocolate banana loaf cake from a Betty Crocker chocolate cake (devil’s food) mix. For the one in these pictures, I measured out half of the mix by weight (approximately 9.5 oz). Then I added 1 egg, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/3 cup mashed banana and about 1/2 cup water. The batter was a little thicker than as prepared by the box instructions. The baking powder helped boost the rise, and the reduction in overall hydration balanced texture vs. baking time.

Because the center of a loaf cake heats up slowly, I covered the pan with foil and cut out a hole leaving about a 1-inch foil border around the edge. The foil border is meant to mediate over-baking at the edges of the cake, while exposing the center to maximum heat and vapor dispersion.

Baked at 250°F/121°C for about 1 hour, the cake more than doubled in height. In the future, I might try 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder instead, because the center sank a little, which sometimes happens when there is too much leavening.

Although it it contains just 1/3 cup of mashed banana pulp, the banana flavor really stands out in the moist chocolate cake.

Because convection ovens circulate hot air with a fan, I expected them to be very effective food dehydrators. For the the last test, I made banana chips on the 2-piece broiling pan that came with the oven. Perforations in the top section of the pan let air circulate around the food, and the bottom section (drip pan) holds the top up to avoid scorching from the heating elements.

So that the banana chips don’t stick to the pan, I greased the perforated section with vegetable oil. I laid out 1/4-inch thick slices on the pan, positioning every slice over 1 or more holes. I didn’t treat the slices with any preservative. They turned brown a little as they dried.


The lowest settable temperature in my Cuisinart oven is 150°F/65°C, too high for drying fruits and vegetables without damaging beneficial enzymes. I propped the oven door open with a crumpled piece of foil, just enough to keep the temperature steady around 110-120°F/43-49°C.

About 5 hours later, the slices had deflated into chips. They were still soft. I peeled them off the pan, loosening them by sliding the blade of a plastic knife underneath, and dropped them into bowl lined with a paper towel. A few more hours of air-drying hardened the chips.