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Everything posted by HungryC

  1. A traditional bread oven bakes from retained heat--not the direct heat of a live-fire oven. You build a fire in a typical WFO, wait for the oven to reach the desired temp, then remove the fire, swab the hearth, load the bread, and close up the door. The bread bakes in falling temperatures--hot initially, slowly decreasing over time. I took a WFO class with Jeffery Hamelman--he added steam to a 3 meter hearth oven using a common garden sprayer--water was sprayed onto the walls of the oven just before the door was closed for the bake. Are you shutting the upper and lower vents in your ceramic cooker and baking using retained heat? My big green egg will retain heat for quite some time, but it will not maintain 450-500 (my desired initial temp for a rustic hearth loaf) for the needed 45 minutes to cook a decent sized boule. Without a live fire, the temp will hover around 375 for an extended period. Too much heat is lost when the Egg is opened to insert the bread.
  2. Rocks (and chains, I guess) can get a lot hotter than water and therefore can store a lot more heat - which the water can use to change phase from liquid to gas (steam). The amount of water will limit the amount of steam and the size/amount of stone will determine how much energy is available for the conversion.Komodo-steam.jpg I've been waiting to reply to this while I made various experiments. Here's a great link on the physics: Counting Calorieshttp://www.mansfieldct.org/schools/mms/staff/hand/countingcalories.htm The key numbers: It takes 80 calories to thaw a gram of ice, 100 calories to bring that gram to the boiling point, and a whopping 540 calories to then turn that gram of water to steam. Different sites discuss the relative heat stored by different substances. Cast iron holds about 13% as much heat energy as water, degree by degree. Stones hold about 20% as much heat energy as water. So if one runs the numbers, a 15 lb cast iron skillet at 500 F will boil off around 250 ml of water. It makes scant difference whether one uses hot tap water, or boiling water, and the convenience of using ice cubes isn't that inefficient. Of course, one will eventually boil off more water, but once the stored heat is released as steam, the eventual rate will depend on the rate at which one's oven can reheat the pans/chains/rocks involved. Slowly. For an initial burst of steam one can basically ignore this later effect. Bouchon bakery is proposing rather more mass than one 15 lb cast iron skillet, and these numbers make it clear why. However, stainless steel is rather expensive in any form (chains, balls) and substitute metals such as galvanized can release poisons; they're avoided in the barbecue community. Rocks can explode. Cast iron would appear to me to be the most cost effective and easily handled/moved form of thermal mass for this purpose. Pictured is the first of these skillets, in a Komodo Kamado ceramic cooker (http://www.komodokamado.com/): Lodge Logic Pre-Seasoned Skillet (15-inch)http://www.amazon.com/Lodge-L14SK3-Pre-Seasoned-Cast-Iron-Skillet/dp/B00063RWUM Lodge Logic L17SK3 Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet, 17-inchhttp://www.amazon.com/Lodge-L17SK3-Pre-Seasoned-Skillet-17-inch/dp/B00063RWVG Based on these calculations, I'm planning to buy a second 15 inch skillet to stack on the first for my ceramic cooker, and I'm considering a stack of two 17 inch skillets on the floor of my indoor oven. It looks pricey, but not compared to swapping ovens. The thermal mass can only help for most applications, so they'd just live there. The stack of two buys me the liberty to use ice (shown here to be only slightly less efficient), which is safer indoors, and less likely to spatter and dampen my fire outdoors. (I wish there was a term of art for forum responses of the form "I don't use sous vide and my food comes out fine!" Of course it does! Such responses don't give credit to commercial bakers who understand this problem far better than any amateur, and consider ample steam worth the trouble. As in, more steam than most of us have ever experienced, making bread for ourselves. If one can't make the comparison, one just doesn't know.)I bake in my BGE, and I find that the airflow through the top vent effectively negates any impact of the steam. In plain English, any steam generated quickly goes up the top vent & doesn't hang around long enough to keep the crust flexible in the initial baking stages (to allow for max oven spring). The closed pot method works just fine in the ceramic cooker, though the bottom browns much faster/more thoroughly than the top. I solve this by flipping the loaf out of the pot about 10 minutes before the end of the cook, turning it face down to improve the color of the crust.
  3. I'm interested in your lettuces...as the temps warm up, how long before they bolt (get bitter and want to flower)? I can grow them in early spring, but as soon as evening temps stay over 70 degrees, they'll grow three minuscule leaves and then flower. So replanting is futile.....does hydroponic give you a longer window?
  4. I have a crappy, late 90s Amana gas range purchased from Sears. The thermostat is reasonably accurate, and the heat is fairly even. I'm not sure why you can't control the temps in your gas oven...are the controls broken? A metal thermometer with large-face dial can sit on the oven rack and is easily visible thru the window, if you have doubts about your internal oven thermostat. Shouldn't cost more than $20. Also, most oven thermostats are adjustable--if your oven's has gone off, you can fix it. The thermostat can be calibrated, and it can also be replaced.
  5. No direct experience with Brickwood, but just a few observations--the Brickwood oven form is most emphatically NOT an oven shaped for pizza. True pizza ovens have low, wide domes (see the Napoletana shape at Breadstone Ovens or the low-ceiling oven shapes at Forno Bravo). The whole point of a WFO for pizza is the intense heat reflected downward by the dome--it's what allows the upper and lower sides of the pizza to cook at the same rate. Without the downward reflecting heat, you'll get performance no better than your BGE. Furthermore, the gurus at pizzamaking.com don't have very kind things to say about the brickwood design. See this thread, and you can search for others. Since I got my Baking Steel, all my WFO desires have been cured. But if I were buying an oven (or an oven insert to finish in place), I'd buy the Napoletana oven linked above from Antoine at Breadstone.
  6. So if you're a bread baker, make a 100% whole grain loaf studded with lots of nuts (ie, protein). It will be a high-fiber, lowered carb "treat". Knead it by hand to expend some calories, enjoy a slice or two, and stick the rest in the freezer for future cravings. I'm not a big fan of complete denial. Exercise is the key--not skipping wonderful breads. I'd rather bust a** at the gym and eat brioche.
  7. Most of the time, I have leftovers. If you're a lunch packer, the "right" container can make the whole process more pleasant. I like the Nissan stainless round thermal container, which has 4 nesting plastic containers inside of it (think Japanese style tiffin), but my favorite lunch tote is the "Box Appetit". A square container large enough for a sandwich, it has two smaller containers--side dish and sauce or salad dressing, for example, and a matching fork. The lid serves as a plate with a "dip" depression. See it here: http://www.momastore.org/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay_Box-Appetit-Lunch-Container_10451_10001_69138_-1_26669_26670 I enjoy my leftovers so much more when they're not squashed into recycled yogurt containers. On the other hand, the recycled yogurt containers don't need to make it home, so no washing or toting required.
  8. A textural contrast is nice w ice cream.....how about a cardamom spiced cookie? (Riffing on Turkish coffee flavors). Thinking of a wafer-style texture or something along the lines of langues de chat.
  9. What species do you target? Is everything frozen on-boat, or do you have other forms of on boat processing. How long is your average trip? Longline, net, bandit/reel? A fleet boat for a processor or an independent selling to a wholesaler? Fisheries are quite different in AK than in my neck of the woods (Gulf of Mex).
  10. If its truly a silk pie, it is mostly butter, with eggs and sugar. The standard US version, often called a French silk pie (dunno why), is 1/2 cup butter, 2 eggs, a couple oz melted chocolate, and vanilla. You mix the sugar and butter, then beat continuously while adding the chocolate, then the eggs (one at a time). I'd imagine a peanut butter version might need additional eggs to get to the same consistency as the chocolate (as the cocoa butter and choc solids add body/firmness once chilled).
  11. Don't wait for the snow to go.....head outside and catch some falling snow in a cup or bowl...pour over the cherry syrup. Voila, instant (edible) snowball (aka snowcone, but those things are just pale imitations of "real" NOLA style snowballs). If you really want to live it up, drizzle sweetened condensed milk over the whole shebang. Aw, yeah.
  12. Have you tried the Kettle baked chips? They are a very respectable snack chip, with no fake ingredients. Every bit as good as a thick cut fried chip, with way way way less fat. I'm a Kettle Bakes evangelist....I would like them in more flavors, so I'm trying to help Kettle expand its market share.
  13. Not sure if you can get them across the pond, but my "crisps" alternative is Kettle brand "Bakes" chips. Baked instead of fried, but unlike other fried chips, made from real potatoes (instead of the typical baked chip made of dehydrated potatoes). http://www.kettlebrand.com/our_products/bakes_chips/#/our_products/bakes_chips/?pid=19 The entire 4 oz bag is about 500 calories, so you can have a mini-binge and it won't ruin your diet. Or eat a big handful and it's around 150 calories. I pair them with dip made from nonfat greek (aka drained) yogurt....it's a pretty spot-on substitute for your usual greasy chip-n-dip. In the non crisps department, a typical US snack at the same price range but a bit healthier (more protein) is dry roasted peanuts.
  14. HungryC

    Circulating the oil

    Rather than sloshing the pan, why wouldn't you just push the tangle of potatoes over to one side? Would accomplish the same thing without an attempt to stir boiling oil.
  15. HungryC

    No Fat Vegan Cooking

    I was just going to chime in the same thing: what's wrong with olive oil? The Mediterranean diet seems to be getting (yet another) round of positive publicity from the health press based on (yet another) study demonstrating its health benefits. And if you're seriously vegan, then my fat free veg cooking tips won't help you, as they often involve meat/poultry stocks/broths or reductions.
  16. HungryC


    I routinely plant the root ends of purchased green onions in my home garden.....cut about 1/2" to 1/4" above the rootlets, allow to dry for a day, then stick the little nubs into the ground. They will readily regrow green tops, which you can cut as desired. If you leave the base intact and just harvest the tops, you have an endless supply at your convenience. My oldest plants are 3-4 years old.
  17. HungryC


    I sometimes see them called bunching onions. To confuse matters even more, the regional name in my area is shallot (though ppl do not mean the true bulb shallot--they're talking about green onions).
  18. Protein is important--you want to match the protein content to the recipe. Stronger/higher protein flours are unsuitable for tender things like piecrust, cakes, muffins, and baking powder biscuits, while it is necessary for a proper bagel or thin NY pizza crust. But factors other than protein percentage impact performance.... Performance: as I mentioned upthread, flour is complicated. Factors like starch damage, extraction (particle size), age, "falling number" (amount of amylase, an enzyme) and so on all impact your baked goods.....better brands are consistent in all of these factors from bag to bag thanks to blending and a high degree of quality control. Less desirable brands have a high degree of variation from batch to batch, which lead to a high level of variation (more or less water required, browning/crust color differences, size/oven spring differences, etc).
  19. With all due respect, it sounds like you haven't made the Lahey recipe (link above). No, it's not much like the Tartine method. For an explanation of the former, see Bittman's original NYT article. Frankly, the Tartine loaf is 1000 times better than the Lahey no knead loaf.....and the stretch and fold method results in far better texture than the straight no knead. I haven't made a Lahey no knead loaf since the initial craze swept through. It's a fun loaf, but better flavor and texture are out there. I think of it as a gateway loaf.....
  20. Ace Hardware stores carry Wicked Good, another dense, long burning hardwood lump good for low & slow cooking. You can buy it online through Ace's website and have it shipped for free to the nearest Ace store for pickup. It usually arrives in a week or so. See it here: http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=12791311
  21. If the water is clean enough to drink, then yeast can drink it too. I routinely use a very hard, highly treated tap water to make bread---it is MS River water with the effluvium of an entire continent, from midwestern agricultural chemicals to local refineries. My water makes lovely no knead loaves. I have never noticed any absorption differences and have used bottled artesian water for demos with no problems. Ditto for tap water in other locales. Keep stirring. It won't mix itself. No knead doesn't mean no mix. If the dough is super shaggy with wet and dry patches, give it a rest. The dough's hydration will even out after a few minutes and help you along. I teach a beginning breadmaking class multiple times a year, and so many of my students simply under estimate the sheer time required to perform the initial mixing. It requires effort and strength, even in a highly hydrated dough. Some students find hand-mixing too onerous and only use a mixer. Others prefer to use their hands directly in the dough. Try making half batches and see if it gets any easier. As a final thought, your bowl or container may be too small to allow for thorough mixing.
  22. Diastatic malt powder is the breadmaker's equivalent of Cialis. It is especially helpful with wholegrain loaves. Promotes rise, browning, improves texture, etc. It is made from powdered sprouted grain (usually barley). Flour is a pretty complex substance....bakers like to think about protein percentages, but many other factors (quality of protein, ash percentage, extraction) come into play. Jeffrey Hamelman's book "Bread" has an excellent overview of flour components & their impact on baking, as well as the impact of milling, storage, and so on. It even has sample farinograph charts.
  23. The differences between the brands are more about performance rather than flavor.
  24. Matters to me....KA is very consistent in protein level and overall quality, year round. I like that it is an employee owned company, not a faceless conglomerate. KAs customer support is unparalleled. Have you ever called the Bakers Hotline? A live person answers and helps you figure out your baking issue, free of charge (other than long distance).
  25. Mixing is a skill. Some folks are more efficient than others. The tool used makes a difference. If I try to mix a wet dough using a wooden spoon, it will require more strokes than a Danish dough whisk. I like to use a combination of dough whisk and flexible plastic dough scraper. Start with the whisk, then when things are mostly amalgamated, switch to the scraper to clean up stray dry flour bits. But don't worry about how long---just keep stirring until well moistened. Or do an initial stir, then wait a few mi items and stir some more.
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