Sunday 9 March 2014

Cooking with gas!

In the past few weeks, I've been baking at Heavenly Dish - the most amazing catering service in Twickenham. I've been made so welcome by all the guys that work there, who've given me both preparation space and oven space for me to make bread! Thanks! If you want an incredible lunch, or a cookery class, click on the link above - they're the best!
A rare moment of quiet in the Heavenly Dish kitchen!

I've always been used to baking with an electric oven, (ours is a fan oven), so when I switched to using the ovens at Heavenly Dish I had to adjust to using gas to make bread with. Easier said than done! I've always advocated the use of hydration when making bread (and still do) but the simple fact is that hydration is a real issue when baking with a gas oven. For example, I use a cast iron saucepan in my fan oven and pour in boiling water to create steam - this simply doesn't work in a gas oven. Gas ovens produce a drier, more spongey, crumb with more taste while fan ovens produce crisper loaves with a dynamic crust. Take your choice!

I love my loaves to have a 'sheen' which I achieve through using both steam and spraying water on the dough before it goes into the oven and once during the bake, when I bake using electric ovens.

Here are the first results. Water spray at start. Saucepan in oven which was useless!
A bit charred, no sheen, okay I suppose...

So I consulted my fab chum Steph (at Edesias Kitchen ) who I always ask technical questions. She said to use bricks or even my baking stone at the bottom of the oven, then spray with water to create steam. Sounds good, I thought, but first I'll try spraying with water much more than usual.

You can see the crust on the loaf at the top has caught. Aaarggh! I thought, what am I doing wrong? Then something so obvious hit me! It was the oven temperature. 

I was so used to baking with my oven and setting the temp for the highest setting (or at least 200C) that I was setting the oven at Heavenly Dish to Gas Mark 8, or even 9. MISTAKE! I turned down the gas to 7.5 and started to produce lovely loaves, but still spraying them every 10 minutes, plus a soaking before they go in plus a quick spray as soon as they come out. I don't do anything else to them.

They are light, filled with a heavenly combo of yeast and gas, with a crust that will improve with each toast!

I love baking. And I certainly love baking at Heavenly Dish.

By the way, we also teach there too!