The Fresh Loaf

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how to get the most out of oven space?

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browndog's picture
browndog

how to get the most out of oven space?

 

(This is a continuation of a discussion started here.)

I was starting to feel guilty hijacking weaverhouse's beautiful sourdough thread, xma, so I thought we could step over here. I agree about the potential for pan size--fantes carries a couple types of $7 7x I think 9 cookie sheet, you might take a look at that. I quite like their selection and service, I use them often when I want kitcheny stuff. I've just started baking my rounds on seperate sheets, a 12" pizza pan and my 10" cast iron griddle. It's working well for just the two, and there's still enough room to pop a bowl over them if I want.

The fresh loaf is so terrific--Asian, huh? and tiny? Well, me too, 5'1" right after a good stretch. I saw a movie (all right, I admit. Shaolin Soccer, it was) where an Asian, Chinese in this case, steamed bun featured somewhat prominently in the script. The bun was a kneaded white bread sort of thing, it looked delicious, though as you say, who connects bread with Asia?

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xma's picture
xma

Hi browndog, good idea moving to a new blog. (Sorry, weavershouse!)

I'll also check out the 7" width pans in local stores here. I know I've seen 7"x11" brownie pans but I think even that length is a bit short for the loaves I usually make. And the loaves will turn out ugly if they have these 1" ridges on their sides and ends , right? Oh, the gut-wrenching dilemmas we go through! :)

Yes, I know those Chinese steamed buns. I tried to make them once, but I think I don't have the right kind of steamer--instead of being smooth, mine ended up being pockmarked because of the vapor that dripped on the buns from the steamer's cover. I tried looking for bamboo steamers but they're either too small or too big. And besides, the buns are widely available here so I didn't bother.

If you want to try it even just out of curiousity, here's a recipe. I'm not sure if this is the one I used because I have two here in my files; one seems strange because it has lard, baking powder AND yeast. Anyway, I'm giving you the basic flour-water-yeast- but instead of salt, it uses sugar.

1 teaspoon yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup water

1 1/3 cup all purpose flour

Mix and knead until smooth. Let double. Divide to 10 pieces, bench rest for 10-20 minutes and roll into buns. I put them on wax paper cut to pieces to prevent them from sticking on my work surface and the steamer. Proof for 20 minutes and steam for 10 minutes or until firm and cooked through. Serve hot. This goes well with ham; we eat it with, for lack of a better term, Singaporean street food ham which is on the sweet side.

The other recipe I have specifies bleached flour. I know I tried it with unbleached and as expected, it didn't turn out as white as they usually come.

I was a bit scandalized by the amount of yeast called for in proportion to the flour. But then again, can you imagine sourdough Chinese steamed buns? Hahaha!

browndog's picture
browndog

Thanks, xma, I may give those a whirl, I don't believe I could buy one within a hundred miles (though I don't get out much.) I have a good-sized steamer that has a couple little vents you can crack, maybe that would solve the dripping problem. Yes, I suppose for you it would be like baking your own baguettes in France, why bother?

Chinese sourdough--I'm sure there would be a person or two here ready to roll up their sleeves and have at it!

Yes, I agree you wouldn't want brownie pans. The sheets I saw were flat. Good luck on your quest, anyway. If I steam some buns I'll let you know how they turn out.--If one happens to be vegetarian, what would you suggest they go with?

xma's picture
xma

Hi browndog.  Gee, that's a tough one.  Those buns usually come stuffed with various types of meat.  I can only think of a spinach filling meant for dumplings.  Or maybe something cooked in peanut sauce, if you're into Malay sate type of cooking. I'll look up a recipe for you this weekend and post it later. 

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

No need to apologize. I didn't mind and if you two are coming over here, I'm coming too! 

Are you both talking about the steamed buns Floyd posted back in February or are you talking about something else? Whatever, they sound yummy.

browndog, I don't get out much either and that's fine with me but today my husband dragged me out to get my drivers license renewed. Glad he did and glad that's over.                                                                                                weavershouse

browndog's picture
browndog

Weavershouse, that's funny! ..Can't you do it by mail, like me? Or did they do some of the dreaded poking and prodding, to prove you really can drive? Yes, we were talking about the same buns, looks like Floyd and I even watch some of the same movies. (Stephen Chow, oh my.) --(And my book came, by the way. You were right--weird, but captivating. You open it up and bam, you're in the thick of it.)

and xma, apparently there's nothing new under the fresh loaf sun--here I thought we were on to a first, but look!

Quite a discussion--even a vegetarian filling! And I didn't know they were supposed to be filled; if you find anything veggie in your files, I'd love to see it. We love Asian food, spicy peanut noodles (the equivalent of macaroni and cheese in the States?) and Szechuan anything being favorite. My kid actually likes tofu (the more fried the better, of course.) I notice Floyd's recipe has the yeast and baking powder, and also sugar but no salt--that's the thing that really surprises me. I do think I'm going to try these, it would buff up my brownie points with the boys, especially if they turn out. We could watch Shaolin Soccer (again) and eat buns, hurray!

 

 

browndog's picture
browndog

Xma and weavershouse, look what I did tonight! I couldn't find red bean paste and it was late when I finally started dinner, so the little buggers are unfilled, (and we didn't watch the movie, either) but they were a hit all around and will definitely be encore performers, spinach and mushroom and beans, I imagine lots of things would work. (My husband wanted jelly, but NO, I said firmly.) I used xma's recipe with the addition of 1/4 tsp of baking powder, no milk or fat. I used a cup and three or four tablespoons of KA artisan, and two tablespoons KA cake flour. They were lovely, simple little things; we had them with a broccoli/portabella/red bell pepper stir-fry and caramelized tofu. Yum-o.

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

It's hard to tell in your photo but how big are they and do you pick them up to eat them or cut them up and use a fork? Are they heavy? Too many questions...I guess I'll have to try them myself. Jelly, hmmm. 

No, I can't renew a driving license in the mail. It's just that they ask so many questions as loud as they can and while I have nothing to hide it's just that you feel so "under the spotlight". Then they ask "Are you still the same weight?" and for over 20 years I've said "Yes" and I quess that I'm expecting that one of these years they're going to look up and say "Yeah, right! Fraud! Haul her away":D ha ha ha

Anyway, nice Chinese steamed buns. Maybe tomorrow I'll try them. One of our daughters married a Chinese man. He's a sweetheart but they met in Hawaii and live in Texas so I don't get to talk to him that much. Daughter and I use up all the phone time. When we go to visit they take us to a fantastic Chinese restaurant but I don't ever remember Ben, my son-in-law, ordering any steamed buns. I'm going to call him tomorrow to ask about them. 
Your stir-fry sounds good too!
                                              weavershouse

browndog's picture
browndog

The buns are adorable little things. Mine were about as big across as your palm. Xma's recipe calls for a cup and a third of flour and 10 buns, whereas Floyd's has more than three cups, I think, for 12. These were big enough--they were small when shaped but doubled or more by the time they came out of the steamer. Maybe it's the difference between Asian and American portions, I don't know. They were light and spongy, not at all dense or dumpling-y, and we just ate them out-of-hand. The only thing was I really noticed the lack of salt, but I consulted 3 recipes, none of them called for it. Perhaps a salted filling would counteract that, and anyway, my American boys really enjoyed them as is (except for the jelly thing. honestly I bet that would work fine as long as you sealed them good, otherwise yuck. They have the texture to complement sweets.) And they were easy! The detail about proofing and steaming on parchment is very important, they are sticky after they sit.

I have an Okinawan sister-in-law who, upon first arriving in this country 35 years ago, brought arm-loads of Asian culture with her, and I was too young to notice. Now she and my brother live in south Florida and their kids are scattered so I never see any of them, but I know McDonald's figures large in their lifestyle, to this day I wish I'd paid more attention years ago.

(And I'd probably have to be dragged to the DVM too if I couldn't renew by mail. I still don't have a picture license for that reason, didn't realize until recently that a) I therefore can't leave the country and b) I'm an anachronism.)

xma's picture
xma

Wow, I was just away for a couple of days from TFL and you've already posted the steamed buns!  Thanks to weavershouse, who has enlightened us about previous postings about them.  And I must say, the idea of using jam for steamed buns just sounds so... well... icky to me, hehehe.  But hey, talk about fusion food, right?

I tried looking for some recipes of fillings, and as I expected, they're mostly pork.  I asked my sister about a spinach filling, and she said as far as she knows, it's just quickly stir-fried in VERY LITTLE oil but with LOADS AND LOADS of garlic, add salt and pepper to taste and stir fry just until it's dry enough but the spinach still has some crisp in it.

And if you're feeling adventurous about going Asian, I've once tried (granted, it was in Bangkok's international airport) the red bean paste filling discussed in Floyd's entry, but (and it's a big BUT) the steamed buns were made with green tea instead of plain water. And it's not the anemic type of green tea that you get in dainty little sachets packed in the UK, but real, Japanese green tea powder in its full potency.  Hah!  But oh man, that was good!  :)

As for the size of buns, it's really anything goes.  The small ones are usually plain, and about 2-2.5 inches in diameter.  But anything between 3-5 inches are usually filled.  I don't think I've ever seen one any bigger than that.

browndog's picture
browndog

Thanks, xma, I'm waiting for weavershouse to tell us about hers now. And you, meanwhile, should whip up a batch of, oh, I don't know, Scottish shortbread, Mexican wedding cakes (mmmm...,) croissants, apple pie? or something...

The spinach with LOADS (and LOADS) of garlic sounds very good and very simple, just the ticket for me. In my world you can't have too much garlic. And after looking for a source for the red bean paste I come to understand it's a sweet..? and considered dessert-y? I'm resolved to having to make it myself if I want to try it.

Well, I like green tea, can't think of that as a detractor, but don't know the Japanese type you mention. (When my Okinawan sister-in-law went looking for green tea 35 years ago in midwestern USA, all she could get was Lipton and that did not cut it.) I'm sure I could find it--what should I expect, something like fireworks? I have heard of gunpowder green..

Definitely will be making these again, they were FUN. (And aren't you supposed to get permission to leave for a couple of days? Hope you were having fun, anyway.)

xma's picture
xma

because I did go Mexican this weekend!  I made yeasted corn bread and a cake called Tres Leches.  

I've been tinkering with yeasted corn bread lately. I've tried four recipes--from The Italian Baker, Hamelman's Bread and Floyd's on this site--and since I recently got Glezer's book, I thought I'll try again, but ended making up my own, and it's the softest, fluffiest yeasted corn bread I've tried.  I'll post my baker's percentages on Floyd's later.  And by the way, I almost ended up with Siamese twins again, because I went for higher hydration and didn't follow Glezer's instruction to use loaf pans, so the loaf S-P-R-E-A-D.

The Tres Leches cake was a recipe I downloaded from the internet ages ago, and I don't remember what site.  Do you know that cake?  The name comes from the combination of fresh milk, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk.  It's like rum cake but soaked in milk instead of rum and butter.  I thought at first it would be yuck, but it's surprisingly not soggy at all, and best eaten cold.

The thing is, I'm all talk and no photos, right?  I'm no good at taking pictures, because whenever I bake, we're so engrossed in eating and smelling, and I never think of taking photographs until I get back on The Fresh Loaf. :)

Oh, I've never tried making bean paste so sorry but I can't help you in that department.  Yes it's sweet, and like a smooth paste even if it has bits of whole beans in it.  The best I've tried come from Japan.  If there are no Asian stores in your area, I don't know if it's worth checking online stores?

browndog's picture
browndog

 

I was in fact trying to think of something quintessentially American, and kept getting stuck on Twinkies, hamburgers, oh and of course macaroni and cheese. Steak, too, I guess, or green Jell-O with shredded carrots in it, ugh. So you see I wasn't underestimating you at all--! and I confess to an unforgivable, utter lack of imagination or culinary sophistication.

Your corn bread sounds good, I've already looked over the formula. I've often made corn bread, or Anadama bread as it's sometimes known (now there's quintessential America!) but never tried corn flour. My recipes call for cornmeal, either soaked, cooked into a porridge first, or just added straight to the flour. Molasses is a usual partner. Good stuff, but not my first thought on soft or fluffy. Maybe that's the corn flour difference, and it sounds like a good one. I'll pick some up and try it out. Also I've never used actual corn except in quick corn breads, do you think it was a successful addition re taste and texture?

Tres Leches cake is new to me. Can't help feeling that it's a shame to use milk in place of rum, :) but the combination sounds fun anyway. Funny how we go ahead and spend time and money making things we're sure will end up nasty. Such a relief when they work. I have a recipe for creamed corn cake- yep, a cake with a can of good ol' storebought creamed corn in it. Haven't yet been bold enough to try it.

And you just have to develop the reflex of yelling-- "Nobody move til I get the camera!" I did just that to my son the other night with the steamed buns. They grumble, but they learn.

 

xma's picture
xma

sounds absolutely hideous! Hahaha. And I learn something new from you everyday, just like I never knew that 'Anadama bread' is actually yeasted corn bread? I mean, I see this term often enough in recipe books (mostly those I inherited from my mom), but never really bothered looking at what's in it.

I think it's the fresh corn that made last weekend's corn bread a success. It boosted the corn flavor by about a mile, and there are nuggets of 'freshness' in the bread that won't be the same if using canned corn. Maybe frozen corn would work, but that's more expensive here than using fresh corn. Glezer's recipe actually asked for only 16% corn, and I have no other explanation about doubling the ratio other than that's how much my ear of corn yielded and I didn't want to eat or throw away the rest.  I'd also caution you about the water, because the formula I initially drew up only started with 42% water (and I added the milk to the soaker), but I added a fair amount of water while kneading, and I thought it would be unfair to say something like 'be prepared to add at least another 60g of water while kneading' in the recipe. I used Bob's Red Mill corn flour.

I don't know if I'll ever develop the habit of putting the food on hold while I get the camera. And honestly, I don't know if I want to. Bread, after all, is meant to be eaten, not made to pose for picture taking, as one of my friends said. :p

 

 

browndog's picture
browndog

>Bread, after all, is meant to be eaten, not made to pose for picture taking...<

Oh, you think not? I recently gave a loaf away simply because (I thought) it was too pretty to cut. Didn't care what happened to it under someone else's hand, as long as I didn't have to watch...I do get much too wound up in how things look, admittedly. I almost would rather bake a pretty loaf than a tasty one if forced to choose...silly, silly me.

Hideous, yes, that would be the word. My mother made it fairly often, bless her heart. Cooking was not what she did best. Or second best.

There's a story to the name Anadama; maybe you know it:

``According to California legend, an old miner was married to Anna durring the Gold Rush of '49. She was lazy and didn't do her chores very well. One day after a bad day of panning, this guy comes home to find no bread. So he grabs anything he can find and throws it together to make a bread of his own, all the while mumbling, 'Anna, Damn Her!' That's how it got it's name!''

I found that little quote online, interesting because New England also claims Anadama, with the angry farmer/husband making bread because he's sick of the cornmeal mush his wife gives him every day. Well, since you promise me soft and fluffy, I will definitely be trying your version.

xma's picture
xma

because I do appreciate a beautiful loaf of bread. My colleague who said what I quoted is a budding photographer, whom I was going to ask to take a photo of the sea water bread. But instead of getting his I-don't-know-how-expensive camera, he wolfed it down! Can you believe that! Don't worry, we're still on speaking terms, but I doubt if he has a future in food photography. Seriously though, in my hierarchy of priorities I'd rather taste the bread than look at it, which explains why I never think of taking a picture until it's gone.

xma's picture
xma

we're back on our turf again. :)  Honestly, I don't think there's anything I can say about oven spring and cold start that hasn't been said on this site yet.  I just followed mountaindog's method, with the exception of, is it JMonkey's or ehanner's?, method of pouring about 1/4 to 1/2 cup hot water on the bottom of the oven before turning it on. 

As for shaping batards, Hamelman's instructions in Bread is the best method for coming up with the fat-in-the-middle batards I like so much.  I know Floyd posted a video on how to do it; I'll look for it later if you haven't seen it.  The other methods I've seen work better with the leaner, more uniform girth between middle and toward-the-end-of the-loaf--this is the shape where I've been practicing my baguette-style scoring.

I can't believe I'm saying anything about this.  You turn out such beautiful loaves!

Bythe way, remember my age-old dilemma of positioning my loaves in the oven?  (Yeah, the original topic of this thread, hehe.)  I thought that based on my experience with the oatmeal bread, I positioned the corn loaves on the bottom rack, and as I said, they spread and ended up looking like ciabatta.  (Granted, there was the corn kernels issue that prevented me from tightening the surface tension.)  On the other hand, the semolina bread I placed on the second-to-highest rack got good oven spring.  Oven positioning when using cold start is driving me crazy... 

browndog's picture
browndog

Well, it's good to be reminded that you can get good spring with cold start at least sometimes. I realize the topic has been thoroughly chewed, and I'm so uncomfortable with the environmental impact issues that if you told me (as many have) that you can have properly-baked bread or cold start, I'd have to settle for medicore. The frustration comes because I know (you guys prove it) that it can be done. But every time I pull out a less than ballooning lean loaf, I tell myself--"See, it's because of no preheat or stone or..." grrr. Shucks, I have had a few successes, which tend to be forgotten. The glitch is probably elsewhere and I need to look harder for it, right now I think it may be the dough a little over-fermented or -proofed. I'm still grappling with the very different requirements of artisan and sourdough from what I'm used to. Even the surface tension you mention is something I know very well in a lower hydration bread but have never found anywhere else. Once the dough gets wetter than tacky I'm in alien territory. Flour, water, folding, I don't know...and I'm venting here, sorry. Identity crisis thing going on, my word...

Videos take a year and a day for me to download so I usually skip them unfortunately, thanks though. Honestly it's not the actual shaping I struggle with as much as that surface tension thing in wetter dough that presumably lets the loaf hold its shape and yes, get good ovenspring.

Funny about your positioning experience, once in a while we're chatting and I think "what was the original topic?--oh, yeah..." kinda like real life:) I have to really watch not to burn or over-thicken my bottom crusts, so I've been double panning or using an insulated sheet lately. The insulated sheet does protect the bottom but it seems to impair browning. Trade-offs again. I usually bake center shelf, but have moved up a notch as per Maggie Glezer's suggestion. Sometimes they color up great, and sometimes they just plain don't.

Oh, I've been messing about with baking under cover, that gave me a couple beautiful loaves with better spring and fantastic color before it just...didn't. The turkey roaster lid might work for you if you only bake one at a time, *sigh* indeed...

xma's picture
xma

with each other about less-than-perfect results.  Sometimes I feel like I'm the only ugly duckling here when I see the picture-perfect loaves posted by bill, ehanner, etc.  Oops, talk about identity crisis--it's not me who's the ugly duckling, but my loaves. :) Then I always remind myself that even Hamelman said somewhere in his book that sometimes you get the occasional bread you'll rate a 90, but never a hundred, because where will that leave you?  Of course, I cringe at the thought of what he would rate my breads, hehehe...

To tell you the truth, I tend to shy away from very high hydration loaves as I think the majority of people here in TFL gravitate to.  I don't have the luxury of having many choices in terms of flour here, especially the unbleached variety.  A case in point--remember the New York Times no-knead bread that was all the rage a while back?  I made that, not even reaching the specified amount of water, and oh man, I can tell you it was baaad.  I can go to specialty stores to get imported flour worth its weight in gold, but why would I want to do that?  So I've learned to live with it.  I think this is why I like Hamelman, because his hydration ratio is almost always perfect for the kind of flour I have. 

browndog's picture
browndog

to listen to me grumble. (Come to think of it, my first post on tfl was one very long grumble..and whine...) Every time I find myself judging a loaf for water and holes, it serves me to recall that I don't actually care about holes as such...Dense isn't favorite, but moderation in all things, eh? I need to remember what I like as opposed to what I think I should like. And we might both keep in mind that none of us (usually) posts pictures of our ordinary loaves. It's the extremes that get our attention after all...You seem to have your own baking well in hand--experimenting is not exactly a novice luxury, if you know what I mean; that's born of competence and success. Plus you can do math..! I was some impressed that you actually had baker's percentages with your corn bread recipe, yikes! I couldn't percentage my way out of a paper bag.

Well, I get over it pretty quick--the bread gets eaten and we pull out the flour and have at it again, always with a heart full of hope and anticipation. We're not always disappointed, either.

Hamelman really intimidated me initially, but nowadays his book is often the first one I grab. Since I got confident in my starter I've been liking Glezer a lot too, and I still don't own BBA. And I've never tried the infamous NYNK--I LOVE to knead, so where would be the charm in that?

By th'by, having ruled out Australia, is it safe to assume that it's Singapore where you live?

I just stopped by ehanner's scientific curiousity, gosh. Have you tried qahtan's Guiness chocolate cake? It came up a bit before Easter, don't think you were here then, were you? I'm not a beer-ite so I can't judge whether this too would be an unfortunate misuse of good stout, but my Wisconsin-raised husband had no complaints.

xma's picture
xma

Hi browndog.  Have to start this post with an apology, I'm in a rush but just wanted to drop in before I go.   Plus, I seem to be having connection problems, had to login like a dozen times.   Anyway, I picked up the baker's math from Hamelman too.  The usual recipes are a bit much for me because I like variety so I tend to make smaller batches.  Once I got on that path, I immediately saw the advantage of being able to see right away whether the dough will be too wet for my flour or not.  Sometimes I feel like a geek, and find myself converting everything to baker's math so I could compare across recipes.

And you're right, I haven't come across qahtan's Guiness chocolate cake yet.  Thanks for the link.  I'll look it up later, although I tend to bake sweets that kids would like, and I don't think beer would be a welcome ingredient.  I don't want to be 'forced' to have the cake to myself too! :)  Anyway, I heard the car's honk and gotta go.

browndog's picture
browndog

Whoa, the girl's got a real life~! Just want to say that I made that cake for Easter and again for a 'ladies' tea party type of thing, and though a couple of people picked up on the beer, I didn't find it a strong presence, though as you're baking for kids beer might not be the first ingredient you'd reach for...how 'bout this, there's zucchini chocolate cake and beet chocolate cake--potato too for that matter, you could be devious and put vegetables in their goodies.

 

browndog's picture
browndog

My dear girl, I've been wondering and wondering about you-! You notice that your last sentence (ever, as far as I knew) was, "Anyway, I heard the car's honk and gotta go."

Then nothing. Utter and complete silence, week upon week, and here's me with a detective novel imagination. It's so good to see you back! Yes, tell me your long story (unless it's sad.) If it's too long for the board, I'll give you my email.