The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A lurker coming out of the shadows

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KansasGirlStuckInMaryland's picture
KansasGirlStuck...

A lurker coming out of the shadows

Well, as my account name states I am a Kansas girl stuck in Maryland.  Even though I have now officially lived in Maryland (Ellicott City to be exact) longer than I lived in Kansas (Topeka)(I moved right after college graduation) I will ALWAYS consider myself a Kansan (sorry you Marylanders).

 I have always loved making bread, but have had long bouts (we are talking years) of not making bread.  When I first moved out on my own I made all my own bread.  Mostly plain white from a very old copy of a Betty Crocker bread recipe book.  I would occasionally throw in a loaf of french bread (recipe from the same Betty Crocker book).  I also whipped the occasional loaf of Dilly Casserole Bread (the best no knead bread I have ever had).  But until recently I have been in a long dry spell.

 Then this past winter I discovered the John C. Campbell Folk School (http://www.folkschool.org).  (Shameless plug).  I took the week-long breadmaking class.  Think 8-10 hours everyday of making breads and then getting to eat them.  Absolute heaven.  I came home inspired and began making bread weekly.  And I became a bread recipe junkie (you people are really bad for my waistline and pocketbook).  I was also inspired to revamp my kitchen (remodeling is frowned on in rented apartments) to give myself more room to work.  Even though I have a Kitchen Aid mixer I love the process of making the dough by hand.  I fear that when I first came back from my class I may have given King Arthur catalog the false impression that a new bread shop was opening from the continous orders I put in for about 6 weeks.

 One of the best lessons I learned from my week of breadmaking was that really good bread can take 2-3 days to make.  I now know the joy of coming home from work and whipping up a poolish in a few minutes and coming home the next day to complete the actual dough with a few minutes of kneading and coming home the next day to actually bake my bread.

 While I have owned Ruth Levy Beranbaum's Bread Bible for several years I was always intimitated by the recipes.  Now I read throught the recipes and can't wait to try them.  I also purchase Peter Reinhardt's Bread Bakers Apprentice.  Several of the recipes we made in class were from that book.  What a wonderful book.  It is a great read even before you get to the recipes.

So now I come to my quandry.  Maryland (as well as Kansas) gets ungodly hot in the summer time.  AC is a wonderful thing and a blessing, but AC in an apartment is very hard pressed to deal with an oven running at 400+ degrees for an hour+.  Other than getting up at 2:00 AM to bake do you have suggestions for dealing with the heat from the oven.  I am moving into another bout of no bread baking because of the heat and I really don't want to lose my momentum.

I can't wait to read your suggestions and constantly look forward to being inspired by the recipes posted.

Anne

Drifty Baker's picture
Drifty Baker

I know what you are going through.  During the summer I do not bake as often as the rest of the year because it is too hot.  If you can take a clue from the old Kansas pioneers, cook and bake outdoors.  There is a thread on this forum about outdoor baking using a gas grill.  I have also used a charcoal grill to bake bread.  It is much harder to control the temperature but the results may suprise you.

Good luck and stay cool.

 

Drifty Baker

Go biking while its rising! 

 

oriole's picture
oriole

If you are in an apartment chances are you don't have a gas grill--I would suggest that you make a big pitcher of iced tea and bake away. Better still, get yourself a copy of "March of the Penguins" or "Conquering Antarctica" and watch it while baking. There really isn't all that much you can do about the heat if your oven isn't well insulated.

 We really haven't had a bad summer at all, but August is coming. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

When the heat of the summer slows down baking in the northern hemisphere, the southern hemisphere is just getting going. 

Mini O

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Well, since you asked, there are a few things you can do about the oven. It sounds like you have a handle on the basics of baking so this won't be much of a leap for you.

I discovered a while back that I could bake great bread with out a stone in the oven and, without preheating the oven. I suggest you get parchment paper to place on a sheet pan. The paper makes moving the dough much easier.

Prepare your dough as normal and place it on the parchment that is sprinkled with corn meal. Slash as usual and place the sheet pan with dough on the middle shelf of your oven. No need for steam but you can place a thin pan with hot water on the bottom shelf if you wish. Then,--turn on the oven to the usual temperature. Add about 5-7 minutes to the usual baking time and remove the water pan after 10-12 minutes if you used it.

I know every cookbook says to preheat and if you use a stone it's not hot for an hour. Trust me on this and try it before you shake your head. You will be amazed at how little difference there is in the bread crust. Here is a link to the thread where several of us tried out the no preheat concept.
http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/1843/no-knead-preheat#comment-12597

In the summer, I bake French bread using no preheat and the oven is on a total of 35 minutes at most. I hardly notice it's on for such a short time. Hope this helps.

Eric 

breadawe's picture
breadawe

For about $200 Cuisinart offers a little oven that heats up to 500 degrees.  I can not recommend this oven as all I know is what Cuisinart claims.  If you do a search in The Fresh Loaf there are a few posts on this product.  If it works you could bake bread outside of your apartment on a deck.  The following text is from the Cuisinart web page on this product.  Good luck....and keep baking  "Cuisinart brings a classic approach to modern cooking with a revolutionary new countertop Brick Oven. Genuine bricks inside this restaurant-quality oven allow traditional brick-oven cooking in the comfort of home. Industrial styling, and three cooking options make this multi-functional countertop oven a valuable addition to any kitchen."

beeman1's picture
beeman1

I have the cuisinart brick oven. I haven't tried baking outside but I guess I could. It bakes as well as my gas oven and uses a lot less energy and keeps the kitchen cooler than my big oven. I can bake two pan loaf's or 1 large loaf. 

GrapevineTXoldaccount's picture
GrapevineTXolda...

your quandry.  Our electric prices are set to increase dramatically come August.  I refuse to give up the A/C, and therefore, I'm looking for alternative forms to my baking processes.  The brick oven (Cuisinart) sparks my interest. Our home needs a new oven, but the updates to the kitchen are on the 'back-burner' until I get the college kid out the door and planted firmly....(there goes the oven, the stovetop, the countertop, the clothes off my back.  lol)  I'm curious to know if this little brick oven can deliver; wouldn't it be wonderful if it did!

Congratulations on your return to bread baking.  I agree, those days of work toward the final product are truly worth the effort. :)

edh's picture
edh

I haven't used one myself, but Susan of WildYeast wrote a pretty positive review a while back;

http://www.wildyeastblog.com/?s=cuisinart+brick+oven

You may have to scroll down the page a ways, but she did a great job outlining the various qualities of the oven.

Stay cool!

edh