Today was my little brother's 25th birthday. And when I rang him this morning to say happy birthday, he informed me of a rather surprising fact - he baked cookies! I'm fairly certain this was his first foray into baking, so I was more than a little impressed. Apparently what warranted this was that his work has a "If you don't bring some form of baked goods, we'll ignore your birthday" approach to things. And it seems that my "store-bought baked goods are a crime" theory has made some impact over the past 25 years!
We then proceeded to have a conversation that went approximately like this:
K: So are work giving you a cake?
C: Nah. We have to bring our own stuff.
K: Did you BUY something???
C: Nope. I made your cookies!
K: Seriously?? Which ones?
C: The usual ones.
K: The double chocolate chip ones from the kids' cookbook?
C: Yep, that's the ones!! They ended up a bit dry though...
K: That's strange. How much oil did you use?
C: I followed the recipe.
K: Hmm. Very odd. Wait - where did you put the oven tray??
C: Right at the top. Why?
But then I started thinking about it some more. Baking with the tray on the top shelf of an oven is pretty much always a no-no. It's especially relevant with our oven in Melbourne which has griller functionality, so the heating element is located at the top of the oven. Meaning that the aforementioned cookies were placed right under the heating element...
But nowhere in recipes does it ever say that placing trays on the top shelf of the oven is a bad idea. It just says "Bake at 180 degrees for 20 minutes" or whatever. How are you supposed to know? Perhaps it's just supposed to be common sense. But when you're talking about someone who's baking for the first time - probably having only used the oven once or twice before - and they don't have someone there to TELL them not to use the top shelf of the oven, why is it assumed that they'll work it out? Especially when you're talking about a recipe from a kids' cookbook?? Okay, so in the case of a kids' cookbook, the expectation is probably that a parent will do the oven-related stuff. But that's totally not the point!!
So, here we have the warning I would have given my brother had I known he was braving the wonderful world of baking: unless the recipe specifies it (which I've yet to see), NEVER use the top shelf of the oven...
And yes, Cam - that applies even if there are other trays already on the shelves lower down.............. ;)