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Cooking in College: Taking culinary skills from the stove to the oven

Baking is a little different from cooking most things on the stovetop. Stovetop cooking generally requires more constant attention, but baking, contrarily, is a more hands-off approach to making food. The secret to it is preparing the ingredients properly.

Unlike stovetop cooking, the measurements in baking have to be fairly precise to achieve the desired texture and taste. When making cookies, for example, the kind of flour and the amount of flour in the mixture will affect whether the cookie turns out crumbly or like a cake.

If you don’t have any already, it’s worth investing in precise measuring tools, both cups and spoons. They’re essential, especially if you’re a beginner to cooking. After some time and practice, you’ll be able to eyeball and estimate a teaspoon or one-fourth of a cup, but that only comes after using proper and accurate measurements.

With that said, I still use measuring cups and spoons whenever I’m baking anything to be as accurate as possible. It can be tedious, but the attention to detail is worth the reward of a great baked good, like macaroni casserole or some sugar cookies.

The best part of baking is that once the preparation is done and the oven is preheated, the pan or tray can just sit in the oven, and you can forget about it until your timer goes off. In most cases, baking is a low-maintenance form of cooking.

Whether it’s a casserole or a baked dessert, take some time out of your week to pop something in the oven, like some banana bread.



Prep time: 20 minutes
Bake time: 1 hour
Servings: 8-10

2 eggs
1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of oil
3-4 bananas, mashed
1/4 cup of sour cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs and sugar using an electric mixer. Keep mixing until the mixture is a uniform texture.

Take the bananas and rip them in half. In a plastic, sealable bag, crush the bananas using your hands to properly mash them. Aim for a uniform texture.

Add the oil, mashed bananas, sour cream and vanilla extract to the mixture, and mix it all again using an electric mixer.

Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl, and whisk them together to spread out the baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

Slowly add some of the flour mixture to the bowl of wet banana mix and use the electric mixer to smooth out the texture. Be sure to add the flour mixture a little at a time to prevent causing a mess with the electric mixer.

Spray some nonstick spray in a loaf pan, and then pour the banana and flour mixture into the loaf pan.

Place the loaf pan into the oven and let it bake for one hour. Check the interior of the bread by poking it with a toothpick. If the toothpick is still really wet, let the bread bake for another ten minutes.

Continue to do so until the toothpick is relatively dry, then remove the pan from the oven. Let the banana bread sit for five minutes to let the interior heat bake the bread some more.

Slice the banana bread into slices and serve.

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