Spin Control


Microwave recipes often have instructions that read, "Place the dish in a microwave oven with rotating plate." Does that mean that you can't cook the recipe if you don't have a rotating plate? Not necessarily.

In some ovens, microwave energy enters the cooking cavity from the top; others have entry points from the top and sides. The energy may flow into the oven like a straight stream of air, or it may pass through something that resembles a metal ceiling fan before it comes into the cooking cavity. (You can't see these fans because they are located behind the oven wall.)

Just as a ceiling fan moves air, the stirrer blade moves the microwaves so that they will bounce off the oven walls and hit the food from all sides. This, obviously, cooks food more evenly--without a rotating plate. Some ovens use circling antennas that direct the microwaves and basically do the same thing.

Often, if an oven doesn't have that system, it will have a rotating plate on the oven floor to move the food through the microwaves as they enter the oven. (Some ovens may have both stirrer fan and rotating plate.)

If you find that your oven doesn't cook evenly--and doesn't have a rotating plate--it is very simple to rotate the dish once or twice during cooking. However, if for soups, stews, puddings, sauces or other more liquid foods, you should stir for even cooking. In this case, a rotating plate will not take the place of stirring.

If you are making something that can't be stirred (a cake, brownies, a whole chicken or meat loaf, for instance), or the pieces can't be rearranged, you may have to rotate the dish.

Or try this: Cakes or brownies are particularly sensitive to uneven cooking, but if you lift them up above the floor of the oven by placing them on top of an inverted cereal bowl they will cook more evenly.



1 tablespoon butter plus 1/2 cup, softened

1 cup finely ground unblanched almonds

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 tablespoons kirsch (cherry liqueur) or any orange liqueur

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

1 cup fine dry bread crumbs

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/3 cup raspberry jam

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Cut 2 circles of wax paper to fit inside bottom of 8 1/2-inch round cake dish (glass or ceramic). Place 3 small dabs shortening on inside bottom of dish and arrange wax paper circles on top. Grease sides of dish with 1 tablespoon butter. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons ground almonds onto buttered sides, pressing with fingers so they stick.

Cream together remaining 1/2 cup butter and granulated sugar in medium mixing bowl. Add eggs, kirsch and lemon zest, beating well.

Combine remaining almonds, bread crumbs, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon and cloves in separate bowl. Stir into egg mixture, blending well.

Spread batter evenly in prepared dish. Place cake on top of inverted microwave-proof cereal bowl (no metal trim). Microwave on MEDIUM (50% power) 7 minutes. Then microwave on HIGH (100% power) 1 to 3 minutes or until cake tests done, rotating 1/4 turn 2 or 3 times, if necessary. (Top may appear damp but should not be wet. Wood pick inserted in center will come out clean.)

Let cake stand on counter 10 minutes before turning out onto cake plate. Peel away wax paper.

Place jam in 1-cup glass measure. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) 40 seconds to 1 minute to melt. Pierce top of cake about every inch with metal skewer. Pour jam evenly over top to glaze and sink in. Let set 10 to 15 minutes before decorating.

Right before serving, place paper doily on top of cake. Sift powdered sugar over top. Remove doily. Makes 8 servings.

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