Sunday, November 24, 2013

baking bread

We recently installed an Origo 6000 unpressurized alcohol stove.  The advantage of this type of stove is that fuel fumes cannot accumulate in the bilge for an explosion risk.  The (rumored) disadvantage is that the energy content is low and that adequate heat cannot be generated.  Well, in a week of use for both stove top and oven cooking, our opinion is that it works great.  

For me, the real test is bread. I started baking yeast breads in junior high. In making the transition from house to boat, the loss of my convection oven was up there. I had huge reservations on the ability of the alcohol oven to achieve and maintain the consistent heat needed for yeast bread. 

Today, I baked whole-wheat bread and it is was yummy. I used a recipe from the The Boat Galley Cookbook by Carolyn Shearlock and Jan Irons. Their chapter on yeast breads is scholarly and technical. (Have I said that I am a huge Alton Brown fan and love the science of food and cooking?) 

The first obstacle was the use of water from our tanks. Carolyn and Jan addressed this in their cookbook. Since we do add additional chlorine to our tanks to keep them fresh, I was leery of this as cautioned in The Book Galley Cookbook. Chlorine and yeast are not a good combination. If you have ever had an aquarium and added water directly from the faucet, you understand the dilemma. Kill the yeast (fish), or let it aerate and dissipate for a couple of hours.

Another problem that had to be overcome is that it is a little chilly in our boat on this November afternoon which makes it hard for the dough to rise. I set the pan directly in front of our small ceramic space heater which got things going.

In hindsight, I should have started the oven preheat halfway through the first rise. With the cooler temps, though, I was able to start it at the same time as the second rise in the pan. The oven/stovetop controls are imprecise. The alcohol canisters are like Sterno cans, using lids to reduce/increase or snuff the flame. Since the oven is still so new to us, deciding how to maintain an even oven temp meant that I camped out on the companionway steps, using the flashlight to check the oven temp every few minutes. 

The timer went off after 40 minutes and the internal temp of the bread was 190 degrees as recommended by The Boat Galley Cookbook. In these circumstances, the hollow sound via tapping is less than definitive for determining if the bread is done.

How awesome is this! Good crust and good crumb, the first time out. I'll be baking bread once a week, like the good old days.

1 comment:

Karen said...

Bet it was good warm on this cold November day!