Ivonne of the always-fun blog Cream Puffs in Venice has a bit of a problem: The baker-blogger is going to be without a stove (and therefore sans any normal baking routine) for a month. In a speedy outpouring of goodwill, scores of readers sent condolences, often accompanied by suggestions ranging from the useful (some baking can be done on the grill) to the useful-when-desperate (you can actually make cakes in the microwave) to the just-plain-wacky (pretend you’re Ukranian!).

This last one got me thinking about the time I spent in Paris during college, when my French roommate taught me to cook quiche, quatre-quarts, and all kinds of roasts and gratins using only a little countertop convection oven. Almost none of my friends there had “real” ovens, and yet as I remember they were all pretty consummate bakers. Are we Americans once again the odd ones out with our bigger-than-everyone-else’s-stuff stuff? Are full-sized ovens still a luxury for a lot of the world?

I would never (ever!) want to give up my gigantic gas oven now, but it would definitely be fun to experiment with raw desserts, campfire pastry , and slow-cooked baked goods—I once made a not-bad bread pudding and a tasty apple crisp for a Crock Pot dinner party. Anyone else had luck with oven-free baking? Hood-of-the-car cupcakes or sidewalk scones, anyone?

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