Monday, October 16, 2006

More on Bread Baking

I have been thinking about bread - again. My home oven sucks. I can't have a wood oven in my business because of the age and construction of the building. The required vent system would equal the budget of a small country. With all you geniuses out there, is there no one who is a thermo-engineer who can make a LIGHT WEIGHT material oven lining that would be easily removeable when not needed? There is one out there that is NOT light weight that I have never used and do not want to spend all that money to try. It also looks small but I have never seen one up close.

Most bread needs about 450 degrees F. so there is stove power but the evenness, and just the quality of heat is lacking in almost all home ovens. If you could maintain the heat and keep it even some breads baked at home could be edible. I have tried tiles in my oven, some fire bricks and dark thick sheet pans. None are as good as the wood oven with the stone floor I used to have.

I am also working on a good proofing box. I thought of making a clean wood box with a light bulb in it and a good thermometer. Even a big box would be portable, and I even thought for apartment dwellers with no space for storage, maybe it could be collapsable or easily re-assembled when needed. It could be stored under the bed in the meantime. What do you think?

Le me know if there is a solution to the thermal lining thing. We can join forces and not only encourage more bread baking at home, but we might might make a little money. Gates and Buffet have too much of it and I'll bet anything I have that neither of them has a wood oven at home. If they would just give me some money I would gladly supply them with bread.

8 Comments:

Anonymous DM said...

The problem with the light weight materials is that they don't tend to hold heat very well or very long. Maybe some of those high-end ceramics would work. It'd be hideously expensive but light. FWIW, my father has one of those hearthkit oven inserts, it works really really well. It does have several issues though, 1, it weighs a ton, 2, it takes about an hour to preheat the oven, and 3 if you leave it in the oven , you restrict yourself to only using one rack.

I love the idea of a foldable/collapsible proofing box though. It's be so nice to have something like that.

6:14 AM  
Blogger Mary Beth said...

I'm using two "stones" in my oven and it does seem to help quite a bit. I thought at first that I would end up rotating the loaves top to bottom, but that doesn't seem to be the case. maybe a hair darker on the bottom at the end.

Anyway, the two stones seem to provide enough evenness and heat retention, but they do keep me in shape moving them in and out (although lately all I seem to do is bake so they tend to stay IN) and they do increase the pre-heat time. I'm guessing there's no way around that anyway though. If you want a really hot, very uniform oven, it's going to take awhile to come up to temp.

Re proofing box - the ones I see out there are too small. I've been leaning towards trying a clear plastic "under the bed box" because I think it would be deep enough and easier to fit multiple loaves on sheets etc.

10:21 AM  
Anonymous sara said...

If you don't resolve the proof box problem, you can at least keep your dough out of the way of draughts by using a microwave (NOT SWITCHED ON!) to proove it in. The dough may take a while to rise but at least you don't need space for another bit of kit in the kitchen. You could even make it a bit more cosy in the microwave by heating up one of those wheat-bags which soothe your aches & pains in it first (leaving it in the microwave during the proving). (I only just thought of that - should try it myself before suggesting it...watch this space!

11:01 AM  
Blogger Happily Ever After said...

I must first say WOW to the fact the one of my favorite chefs ever has a flippin' blog!! Kudos to you!! As for bread making... I bake bread almost every day in my crappy home ELECTRIC oven! I do use a stone insert that I preheat up to 500° to 525°, toss several ice cubes put the bread in and don't open for about 10min before checking. It works ok but will never achieve the hearth style of a real wood stone oven. If you know a better way please share it with me. I have a friend that builds chimneys and she has been working on a oven insert that has a thermal lining system similar to a flue in a chimney. I'll keep you up-dated on her progress.

As for the proofer. What I use at home is an old under the counter stainless steel freezer from a past restaurant I owned. I had a small hole drilled in the back and put a hot plate on the bottom. Fill a heavy pan with water and turn the plate on low and slowly build a slow steam. Works great doesn't take up a lot of space and keeps really clean.

Again I want to say thanks for your passion. I look forward to visiting often!!

7:00 PM  
Blogger Happily Ever After said...

I must first say WOW to the fact the one of my favorite chefs ever has a flippin' blog!! Kudos to you!! As for bread making... I bake bread almost every day in my crappy home ELECTRIC oven! I do use a stone insert that I preheat up to 500° to 525°, toss several ice cubes put the bread in and don't open for about 10min before checking. It works ok but will never achieve the hearth style of a real wood stone oven. If you know a better way please share it with me. I have a friend that builds chimneys and she has been working on a oven insert that has a thermal lining system similar to a flue in a chimney. I'll keep you up-dated on her progress.

As for the proofer. What I use at home is an old under the counter stainless steel freezer from a past restaurant I owned. I had a small hole drilled in the back and put a hot plate on the bottom. Fill a heavy pan with water and turn the plate on low and slowly build a slow steam. Works great doesn't take up a lot of space and keeps really clean.

Again I want to say thanks for your passion. I look forward to visiting often!!

7:01 PM  
Anonymous Tabitha said...

I just tried a recipe from the NY Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/dining/081mrex.html?em&ex=1163566800&en=ed94cb3e23992fdc&ei=5087%0A) that calls for baking the loaf in a cast iron (or other similar heavy material) dutch oven. The oven and cast iron pot and lid are preheated for at least 1/2 hour before cooking, the shaped dough is placed in the pot, covered with the lid and baked for 1/2 hour. I was a bit skeptical, but the resulting crust and interior texture is something I've never been able to accomplish in a home oven. Whether you use the "No Knead" Recipe or not (though it also was a pleasant surprise as far as results), the baking method is really worth a try. Of course the size and shape of your loaves are limited with this method, but it does kind of create a mini thermal lining and a smaller space for a more regular heat.

8:15 PM  
Blogger Tabitha said...

I just tried a recipe from the NY Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/dining/081mrex.html?em&ex=1163566800&en=ed94cb3e23992fdc&ei=5087%0A) that calls for baking the loaf in a cast iron (or other similar heavy material) dutch oven. The oven and cast iron pot and lid are preheated for at least 1/2 hour before cooking, the shaped dough is placed in the pot, covered with the lid and baked for 1/2 hour. I was a bit skeptical, but the resulting crust and interior texture is something I've never been able to accomplish in a home oven. Whether you use the "No Knead" Recipe or not (though it also was a pleasant surprise as far as results), the baking method is really worth a try. Of course the size and shape of your loaves are limited with this method, but it does kind of create a mini thermal lining and a smaller space for a more regular heat.

8:15 PM  
Blogger Carlo Middione said...

The ceramic cloche you can buy works too, but does not serve double duty as a deep fryer , skillet, or roasting pan like cast iron. CM

8:34 PM  

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