"Pan" news and stories
While I don't bake at home often, on those occasions that I do want to get steam in the oven, I have a method that works very well. Start off by putting a sheet pan or baking pan (something with walls) on the bottom-most shelf of the oven. Place on that something that is heavy and retains heat. Some people use lava rocks that you can get at garden centers, but I use nuts and bolts. A colleague told me about that once, and I found that worked well and they were far easier to come by than a lava rock.
Bring your oven up to temperature with the nuts/bolts/pan set up in place. Whatever medium you use, make sure to give it plenty of time to hot. When the oven has been heated to the recipe-prescribed temperature, put your bread on the rack, pour some water (about a cup) over your steam-creating rig and close the oven door as quickly as possible. The hardware will evaporate the water, creating plenty of steam for that artisan loaf. Make sure to let everything cool down thoroughly when you're done baking before removing it from the oven.
Filed under: Methods
I once whined to my mother (aka: Knower of All Things Culinary, and Go-To Person for All of Life's Quanadries) that I couldn't make a decent crepe without a crepe pan, and she waved my complaint away with her hand, insisting that while a crepe pan is nice, it's definitely not necessary.
On NPR's Kitchen Window series, we're reminded of this glorious food. Really, how can one simple butter-flour-milk mixture hold so much potential? NPR provided two simple recipes - one for a sweet crepe, and one for savory. I decided to tackle the savory one, substituting Morningstar faux chicken strips for real chicken. (The greenish blob on the top is 365 Brand Pesto - I really have to work on presentation).
As I attempted the little devils, I came to some important conclusions:
1). Let the butter soften before mixing it in the food processor. Otherwise, you will wind up with weird lumps in your batter.
2). Make sure your pan is really, really hot and really, really well-oiled.
3). If you do not like gummy, rubbery crepes, add ONLY 1/4 cup of batter and cook until the thing is lightly dotted with brown spots.
4.) If at first you don't succeed...
As you can see by the myriad conclusions, it took one or two tries before I figured it out. Granted, they aren't as good at the ones at Philly's Beau Monde, but I was pretty darn proud of myself. But if anyone has any tips for next time (I still have some batter left), please - I'm all ears!
(Oh - and mom was totally right about the pan thing).
Filed under: Newspapers
Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Rub pan with a thin layer of lard or vegetable shortening. Place pan upside down in oven with rack positioned beneath it to catch extra drippings. Cook for 2 hours.
Repeating this seasoning method several times helps create a better nonstick surface. Also, try to wash out the pan while it's still warm and dry with a paper towel to preserve the seasoning.
I am a big fan of my Baker's Edge pan and use it just about every time that I bake bar cookies or other treats I might ordinarily use a rectangular pan for, including brownies and cheesecake bars. The pan's unique design allows for more even cooking and a higher crust-to-center ratio for baked goods. Cooking for Engineers set out to scientifically test the pan in a side-by-side bake off with a 9"x13" rectangular pan. Their goal was to test the evenness of the cooking, as compared with the standard pan, and to see how the crustier batch appealed to tasters.
The Baker's Edge cooked very evenly and produced pieces with appealingly chewy edges (unlike the hard edges that can result in regular pans), but the brownies weren't quite as popular with center-piece lovers as the brownies from the larger, more traditional pan. A few batches later and C for E found that a slightly shorter baking time made the whole batch of Baker's Edge brownies just like center-pieces.
Their overall verdict was that the pan worked extremely well, with the only real drawback being that it was difficult to get out the first piece. Of course, as the chef, having a sample piece for yourself isn't such a bad thing, is it?
Filed under: Food Gadgets