The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Holy Smoking Oven Stone...,

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Holy Smoking Oven Stone...,

My old baking stone cracked in two last week.  Got 25 years out of it.  Not bad considering the abuse it was subject to.  Ordered a new stone from Amazon which is made by the "Old Stone Oven Corp".  It is molded blast furnace clay composite which is a light pinkish - red in color.  Read over the brochure and washed it with water as advised. Let it air dry and put it away till baking time.  Placed it in the oven and set the temperature at 450 dF as usual.  Twenty minutes later I open the oven door to place the dough on the stone.  To my surprise the stone was emitting steam like a high pressure boiler in overdrive.  I proceeded to place the loaf on the stone with its parchment paper underneath with the stainless steel steam pan upside down as a cloche.  Fifteen minutes later the cloche pan and parchment were removed and bread allowed to bake for 17 minutes longer.  The oven was opened to remove the loaf to the cooling screen.  The loaf was firmly stuck to the oven stone.  Some fast work with a French Spatula freed the loaf but with some of the crust remaining on the stone (it tasted good too). 

The moral of this story is to always heat the stone to remove all water before using it after water washing (500 dF for 30 to 60 minutes prior to baking).  The blast furnace type refractory material absorbs an almost unbelievable amount of water and would make a great steam source if it weren't for the fact that's not it's purpose.  

We're innundated with fresh Basil currently and I was thinking about a making a Pesto flavored sourdough.  Anyone have any ideas on this?

Wild-Yeast

proth5's picture
proth5

I've been thinking about terroir and how a walk in the garden should be reflected in my bread.  My particular climate hasn't produced a lot of basil, yet, but it soon will.

Basil is an herb that doesn't take especially kindly to heat.  Yes, it does get cooked, but even in a tomato sauce, one tends to want to add it towards the end of the cooking.

My guess is that pesto would be better on bread than in bread because of all the heat processing involved in bread baking.

Let me share with you my favorite basil recipe: Lemon Basil Sorbet

Syrup

1.5 cups sugar

1.5 cups water

Bunch of basil

Bring the sugar and the water to a boil and boil 1 minute.  Add the basil and let steep for 5 mins.  Strain and chill.  The syrup will keep for a long time in the refrigerator.

Sorbet

1 part syrup

.5 part freshly squeezed lemon juice (Meyer if you've got it...)

Freeze in an ice cream maker or put in shallow pan in freezer - freeze to slush and stir - repeat if required...

Eat. Quickly.  The sorbet is too delicate to keep more than a couple days - best to freeze to order...

Janedo's picture
Janedo

I agree with Pat. I made a pesto filled rustic bread that was rather nice. You can either roll out the dough and spread the pesto and then roll it up, or do a filled baguette or ciabatta.

As for the lovely sorbet, that reminds me of one of the best ice-creams I have tasted and made. It was similar but the base is cream, so a real ice cream. The milk is heated and the basil left to soak in it, then taken out. Lemon rind is added and then thin strips of fresh basil addes to the ice cream as it is churning. I have to find the recipe, it is heavenly! I can't remember if there are eggs and how much sugar. The basil lemon together is incredible.

Oh and I've noted about the stone. I'll definitely remember that! 

Jane 

proth5's picture
proth5

Currently the Mile High City is experiencing the Great Cream Crisis of 2008 (the dairy that distributes the only non-ultra pasturized cream in town is having severe problems and the cream is not being sold) else I would make that ice cream this weekend.  If I were constructing it, I would do a custard base - just because I like those.

Thanks for the inspiration!

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

I agree with the fact that Basil just doesn't cook well.  Pesto on sourdough is the sensible way to go.

Thanks for the Basil Ice and Cream recipes! 

The West Coast is cooking right now with Santa Ana Winds and won't see any relief till the end of the week.  Skies are smoke laden, the sunsets fiery red.  Air quality is "don't do it".

The reason for all the fires, as proclaimed by a local wag, is that God's making firebreaks so he can have a really big fire following the gigantic earthquake he's planning..., 

Wild-Yeast 

proth5's picture
proth5

and stay cool. 

Janedo's picture
Janedo

That's terrible! I do admit that I was sot of relieved to leave the west coast (Vancouver) where they are waiting for the big one as well. Scary!

Jane