Dede Wilson

co-founder of

Using Your Microwave

I use my microwave all the time. If you have one and aren’t using it to help you when you bake, then you are missing out on some huge time saving techniques. Using your microwave depends on your familiarity with it. All microwaves are different; one might have 1500 watts as its High Power, while another will be 700 watts or even less. It really pays in the long run to really get to know your specific machine. You need to know how long it takes to soften ice-cold butter rather than melt it, for instance. This comes from experience, as most microwaves’ How-to-Use booklets do not address most of the things we want to do in the bakery kitchen. Once you have that awareness factor down, consider reaching for the microwave for the following:

* Softening butter for creaming

* Melting butter

* Melting chocolate

* Softening blocks of chocolate for making curls

* Softening citrus so that it yields more juice

* Warming milk so that is “room temperature”

* Cooking a potato for “potato” breads

* Gently warming cookies

* Defrost various ingredients

* Soften honey for pouring

* Soften Nutella for dipping

* Sterilize sponges

The key to using any microwave is to start slow at first, so that your butter doesn’t melt and then splatter all over the oven interior. When in doubt, use a lower percentage power and go in 10-second bursts. This might all seem vague and not worth the time, but believe me, it is. It’s like riding a bike; once you know how to use your microwave, it becomes easier and easier and you will use it more often. By the way, don’t overlook the sponge recommendation. It’s a great germ killer. Every night I place my moist kitchen sponge in the microwave and heat at high power for 2 minutes. It’s the last thing I do before shutting down the kitchen for the night. Make this a routine and you will be helping you, your family, your kitchen surfaces and dishes reduce exposure to germs and bacteria.