The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Don't try this at home!

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Syd's picture
Syd

Don't try this at home!

Floyd's question  on Varda's Pain au Levain blog entry:


 



The wet towel idea freaks me out.  They don't catch fire?  Do you pull them out after a few minutes?



reminded me of an incident that happened a few weeks back but forgot to post about.  Liike many others on the forum I have been using Sylvia's  wet towel steaming method for a while now.  It works wonderfully and I am a firm convert, but you do need to be careful that the towels don't dry out or take them out before they do.  If not, this could happen to you:



A little bit longer and they could have caught on fire.  I don't know what was wrong with me on that day.  I just got distracted, I guess.  If you are the absent minded type then this is not the steaming method for you!


Syd

jcking's picture
jcking

What if one were to cover the pan with aluminum foil and then poke a dozen small holes in the foil? Steam would escape and oxygen flow (fires need air) would be restricted. Spillage would be avoided.


Jim

Syd's picture
Syd

I am guessing you would have to get a really tight seal to exclude all oxygen.  And poking holes in the top would preclude the main benefit of this technique which is to get lots of steam to your dough quickly.  I think you would be better off just making sure the towels are sufficiently wet not to scorch.  Setting a timer to remind yourself to remove the towels should do the trick.  I am normally very attentive of my loaf while it is in the oven but somehow on this day I got distracted.  I suppose it only takes a little negligence for an accident to happen.


Syd

jcking's picture
jcking

Is someone up to giving it a try? Steam is powerful stuff, I believe it would push through the holes no problem. Of course it would not be possible to exclude all the oxygen, just thinking it would slow it down. I threw out this idea as I'm racking my brain to think of a porous material that wasn't flammable to replace the towel. I usually have one on two timers going to remind me to do something, though sometimes I have trouble remembering what that was:) So keep that towel wet buddy, till a better idea comes along.


Jim

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

like for grilling

jcking's picture
jcking

Or try sand like playbox

MadAboutB8's picture
MadAboutB8

This happened to me as well last weekend. I lost three towels, because, like you I kept the towel too dry in there for too long...underestimating how dry the towel can get.


I think the key is to have the towel soaking wet throughout the whole time. Need to pour more water every 5 minutes or so.


Sue


http://youcandoitathome.blogspot.com

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Is the towel still useable for this purpose, or is an odor emitted?

jcking's picture
jcking

Mr Frost, are you asking about the charred towel or the foiled covered pan or a slight bit of humor?


Jim

Syd's picture
Syd

I threw them out because I didn't want anyone else to see that I almost burned the house down!  But they did have a smell to them and I am not sure that the could have been used again.


Syd

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

I always think, "well, if you have a fire in the house, the oven is the place for it."


Just don't let it out. lol

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I have to agree with you, Syd.  [if you are the absent minded type then this is not the steaming method for you].


 Always use caution with any steaming of ovens.  


When I remove my towels from the oven after pre-steaming and, timed steaming and, they have cooled enough, plenty of water can still be wrung out from the towels...I think my bread would burn before the towels would...not that I would leave the towels in that long!  I use plenty of water.  More hot water can always be added after they are microwaved.  When I microwave them they are very wet, but not enough so that water drips from them, when the 'rolled' towels are lifted from the microwaveable pan into my metal loaf pans.  I like using the high sided loaf pans, so the towels don't hang over the sides. 


Sylvia


 


 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Two things crossed my mind...  maybe the towels contained a mixture of threads and ... the towels were flat in the oven as opposed to folded/wadded in a small tall pan.  

Syd's picture
Syd

They are, indeed, 100% cotton, Mini but I laid them flat in the oven as you guessed.  They weren't folded/wadded in a tall pan.  So I suppose they had a larger surface area to evaporate which would have made them more vulnerable to burning.  Thanks for pointing that out.


Syd

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

And make millions!  They're always looking for new ideas for jeans!  :)


I think in a small pan, it works more like wicking and the water stays longer in the fabric.  


Mini

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

my towels turned a bit brown on top as well but they were still damp on the bottom.


The next time, I used more water.