Image by Peter Muka
We use our microwave all the time and have come to appreciate and rely on it as a time-saver. The key is to get familiar with your particular make and model.
It is hard to standardize a recipe’s directions for the microwave because high power on a 1500-watt unit is different from the same power on a 900-watt unit. For instance, it is handy to know how long it takes to soften ice-cold butter, readying it for creaming. You will also want to know how to melt butter completely without it exploding in your microwave and coating the inside (yes, this has happened to us).
Most How-to-Use booklets do not address the things we want to do in the bakery kitchen, so our suggestion is to start slowly at first and experiment. When in doubt, use a lower percentage power and go in 10-second bursts. Your practice will pay off; we liken it to riding a bike. Once you get it down, it becomes easier and easier and you will use it more often. After you get comfortable with your machine, consider using it for the following:
- Softening butter for creaming – Starting with cold butter, begin with 10-second bursts on High power. You want the butter to be pliable, but not at all melted
- Melting butter – Unwrap sticks and place in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover loosely with flattened (non-foil) butter wrappers to prevent a mess, or use a piece of microwave-safe plastic wrap.
- Melting chocolate – Always have chocolate finely chopped and start with 10-second bursts at 50% power for dark chocolate and 30% power for milk or white chocolate.
- Melting butter and chocolate together – Chocolate should be chopped finely and butter should be in small pieces. Try 10-second bursts at 50% power.
- Softening blocks of chocolate for making curls – Try 10 seconds at High power. This largely depends on the chocolate and will require some experimentation.
- Softening citrus so that it yields more juice – Microwave for 10-15 seconds at High power.
- Warming milk so that is room-temperature – Start with 10 seconds at 50% power.
- Cooking a potato for “potato” breads – Poke holes in a medium-sized potato to allow steam to escape, then microwave for 5 minutes on high power, turn over, and heat for another 5 minutes.
- Gently warming cookies so they taste like they just emerged from the oven – Zap on High power for 10 seconds.
- Defrosting various ingredients – For this, we suggest following manufacturer’s instructions, as each unit is quite different.
- Slightly liquefying honey for pouring – Begin wth 10 seconds at High power.
- Softening peanut butter or Nutella for easier measuring – Begin with 10 seconds at High power
- Sterilizing sponges – Make sure sponges have no metal fibers. Microwave on High power for 2 minutes.