The world is changing and changing fast. The other day my daughter was looking at some old photos of me. There is one of me, circa 1985 up to my shoulders in snow making a snowman. She said, "Mummy, it never snows like that anymore. Is it because our planet is sick?" Wow what a statement from a 5 year old! But the sad truth is that this is a reality. The world is warmer and getting even warmer. Which is great for our Indian summers in London, but not so great for rising sea levels.
I am guilty of being wasteful in how I consume, as much as the average person. I take longer showers than I probably should do, take the car for journeys when I'm running late, buy food not in season, as I just can't do without it even though it has to be flown in from Kenya. Come on we all do it! Perhaps it is all too late to even collectively make a difference? Maybe it is mankind's scientific and technological exploration that will save us? I truly believe we will find a way, but it is the whole principle of not being wasteful and learning to be respectful of our resources and our environment. There is only one planet earth and the circumstances that brought us to existence are remarkable, so we have a duty to at least try.
So what has all this got to do with baking? Making patisserie can be very wasteful unfortunately. There are often many steps and processes using many bowls, pots, pans, piping bags, ovens etc. When I first started out I made a big big mess; I probably over used my oven when I didn't really need to etc. But now with trial and error I think I have come up with some amazing cheats that will help to save you time, money and make you feel like an eco-warrior in the kitchen!
Here are my top 5 tips
1) Use reusable equipment. Since discovering silicone my life has changed. No longer do I need to waste time or resources cutting out heaps and heaps of greaseproof paper to make macarons or choux. I get perfectly round beauties with my trusty silicone macaron moulds. Just a quick rinse and they are ready to use again. Also use a silicone piping bag instead of disposable plastic. Silicone bakeware is available in the Mon Dessert Baking Kits and lasts forever!
2) Know your oven. Often you get a recipe and it says the temperature you should cook at and you end up with a burnt mess or cannot understand why one side is raw. This is because a lot of oven thermostats are not accurate. Use a thermometer and test it out on different spots in your oven. In addition multi shelf baking. Newer ovens allow for multi shelf cooking at even temperatures which allows you to save further as you don't need to bake one item at a time. I use a Neff which has quite frankly saved my life, but if you do not have the money to splash out on a new oven, again use an oven thermometer to really know the temperature on each shelf.
3) Use a microwave. Now that we know that microwaves do not cause radiation poisoning, we can happily ping away. Professional chefs always use quick cheats. Surprisingly I learnt from my time in professional kitchens that the microwave can be a very, very useful tool; it saves time, washing up and energy. It is much more efficient to melt chocolate in a plastic bowl in the microwave that make a Bain Marie by boiling water, using a gas or electric hob. Then there is the bowl and the pan - the key is to melt the chocolate in 30 second bursts and stir. You'll end up with lovely glossy melted chocolate.
4) The freezer is your friend. I love raspberries in the winter and I cannot live without cherries! Stock up on seasonal fruits and veg and freeze whole or make purées and freeze in ice cube trays. This way you can make fruity clafoutis or framboiser all year round, yummy.
5) Wash up in bulk in the dishwasher. Rather than washing up as you go along wasting water, keep filling your dishwasher and when it is really, really full switch it on eco mode. Your kitchen will always look tidy as everything will be hidden away inside the machine. You'll save water, energy and it will keep your hands young looking forever...
Stockists and further reading…
- Ovens, by Neff http://www.neff.co.uk/product-showroom/ovens.html
- Dishwashers, by Neff http://www.neff.co.uk/product-showroom/dishwashers.html
- Silicone bakeware by Mon Dessert http://www.mondessert.co.uk/shop-baking-kits
- Oven Thermometer, http://www.salterhousewares.co.uk/kitchen/kitchen-accessories/salter-kitchen-thermometers/analogue-oven-thermometer.html
- Microwave oven, http://electriq.co.uk/category/products/microwaves/