Baking bread in a rice cooker, baking a cheesecake in the ‘microwave oven’

Posted on 30.06.2015

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File under ‘things that might only happen in Japan’. IMG_4008As some of my readers might know: there is something MAJOR missing from my kitchen in my Tokyo house, and it’s pretty devastating.

We don’t have an oven.

In general, no one does. They aren’t a standard part of homes, and aren’t in wide use (even though if you watched the original Sailor Moon series like I did, you would know that both Serena AND Lita had ovens in their homes. They are the exception, not the rule).

I have a gas-burning stove top with 3 burners, and a broiler/grill underneath. We also have a rice cooker and a microwave that has oven functions. I was really suspicious about these ‘oven’ functions on the microwave, but generally interested in the idea of baking bread or cake using the rice cooker.

After two conversations with two different students, I decided this was the weekend off I was going to go for it. I had a huge fear in the back of my head that I’d blow up both the rice cooker AND the oven, and possibly my entire house. But both students reassured me that I’d be fine, and this was a normal thing to do. So I bit the bullet, bought nearly $20 worth of Philadelphia cream cheese, and went for it. IMG_4786

I followed the recipes down to the last line, and got everything prepped and ready to go. The corn bread was going to take a lot longer to bake than the cheesecake, so I made that first and got it into the rice cooker, pressed ‘bake’, and let it go. I’d done a lot of reading online about how long to bake bread in the rice cooker, and just about every article or recipe I read said to turn it on for a normal rice-cook cycle, possibly twice or three times. Turn it out and over when the top looks done. Got it. In it went. Fingers crossed.

After that, I did a test-run on the oven to see how it worked. I ran it for one minute with nothing in it, and quickly realised it was pretty dirty inside. So I had to pause for an hour or so to let it cool down and clean it out. I made the cheesecake mixture while I waited. After that was done, I baked the crust for 10 minutes, and all seemed well. No explosions, and my friend sat and watched it while I did other things, to make sure there was no smoke coming from it. So I poured the cream cheese mixture in and turned it on for another 45 minutes. IMG_4793

And then, we waited. I checked the corn bread from time to time, and turned it when I guessed it was ready. We saw the cheesecake rising in the pan, and not exploding. We had some friends over and we were just hanging out in the kitchen, talking while the cake and bread were cooking and baking.

Everything came out perfectly. Crumbly corn bread that tasted great, perfect cheesecake with no cracks. This is quite exciting for me, since it means I can get back to actually baking. I’ve really been missing NOT having an oven, and now that I know my tiny little microwave-sized one can handle actual baking, I’m going to be making SO MANY more things than I have been for the past year and a half. It really felt odd to be without an oven, even though I’d been without one before and handled it.

IMG_4797It seems funny that being able to bake bread in a rice cooker and bake in my microwave would be exciting things, but it feels like having a limb cut off when you’re not able to make most of the food you love, and have to rely on a frying pan and a tiny grill. So I guess now we can expect some more food posts. Maybe.

In other news, while we waited for everything to cook/bake, I cleaned my entire house.

Multitasking. I has it.

Posted in: food, home, life