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I’m sure you’ve noticed that Christmas is coming– and fast. I’m also sure that you’re more organized than I am. You probably purchased all your Christmas gifts months ao, and you’ve got them stored in a box in the closet, wrapped and tagged and provided with thoughtfully written Christmas cards, full of love and good cheer. Me… well, I’ve been waiting. Now, less than two weeks from the day, I’m ready to start preparing. Thank goodness for internet shopping (to those of you who will be receiving gifts, please don’t take this as a sign that we don’t care. We very thoughtfully clicked on the “add to cart” button).
Now, though, the best part of preparation is upon us–the recipe reading, and the food choices, and the cooking, and the baking. I hope you’re having a wonderful time thinking about Christmas eating, whether you’re planning to make what you always make or whether you’re branching out and trying new treats.
If you’re thinking of trying something new, the Supper in Stereo test kitchen has something wonderful to offer. I think this is a perfect dessert. First, it’s perfectly pretty and Christmassy, with the rich, cream-white of the meringue complemented by the regal magenta of the cranberry curd. Second, it’s a medley of textures. The meringue is crisp on the outiside, velvety smooth and slightly chewy in its middle; the cranberry curd accents the slight chewiness of perfectly baked meringue with smooth, chilly, perfection. And that’s before your tongue even starts registering flavour: you’ll taste sweetness with a hint of vanilla before the astringent, rich curd hits your tongue to offset the sugar rush. These disappear quickly, so light that you register only delicious without noticing that you’re already full from dinner.
I made a variety of meringue shapes for this– it worked well in a meringue pie crust, which I created by spreading a smooth layer of meringue into a greased and lightly floured pie tin. I was worried about the runniness of the curd for serving, so I actually popped the meringue pie, complete with curd, into the oven at 350 F for 10 minutes, to set the curd a little more. That worked great, and though the pie collapsed into shards a little when I cut into it, it held its shape well, and made for easy serving.
I also made mini-pavs with a top that popped off easily after cooking, so that I could hide a velvety surprise of curd in the meringue’s bellies. This was my favourite serving technique, pretty and individually sized, so you could even set out a bunch of these on a platter. They’d still need napkins, though, as they’re two or three bite treats. To make a top that comes off easily, I made a smooth round of meringue and than dollopped an extra pyramid of meringue on top. When I baked them, the meringues split slightly at the edges of the top dollop, which then pulled of really easily, leaving a curd-holding crater in the middle. Put some curd in, put the top back on, and you’re ready to go!
You could also just make smooth circles of meringue, making the edges slightly higher than the middle so they can hold a tablespoon or so of curd, like pretty costume jewellery. It’s up to you.
I was pleased to find this recipe in Nigella Lawson’s “How to be a Domestic Goddess,” as when I had the original idea for cranberry curd, I thought I’d have to make my own recipe. I followed Nigella’s recipe exactly, and it turned out perfectly. I’m providing volume conversions, but can’t guarantee them as I followed the weight measures provided in the cookbook. The only other change I made was to scale the recipe for the size of the bag of cranberries I bought, which was 350 grams, unlike the 500 called for in the book.
350 grams cranberries, fresh or frozen (this is the size of a package of cranberries in my supermarket–probably about 3 cups)
140 mL water (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon)
70 grams unsalted butter (5 tablespoons)
350 grams granulated sugar (1 1/3 cups)
4 large eggs
a food mill or, if you’re me, a fine-mesh strainer
1. Combine the cranberries and water in a saucepan, and cook over medium-low heat until the cranberries split open.
2. Push the cranberries through a fine-mesh strainer with the back of a wooden spoon, or if you’re lucky and have a food mill, pass them through that. Return the seedless puree to the saucepan.
3. Add the sugar and the butter, melting them into the puree at low heat.
4. Next, add the eggs, which you have beaten in a separate bowl. Make sure the sugared puree isn’t too hot, so you don’t cook the eggs on contact (it’s a good idea to remove the cranberries from the heat to cool slightly while you beat the eggs).
5. Cook slowly over low heat, stirring constantly. Do not allow the mixture to heat up too quickly, and never allow it to boil, or your eggs will curdle. Your curd is ready when it coats the back of a spoon. Cool slightly before transferring to jars to keep in the fridge. This recipe makes about 3 cups of curd.
Meringue for Pie Crust or Mini-Pavlovas
This is another Nigella Lawson recipe, for which I changed temperature and time settings slightly. My meringues didn’t come out perfectly white, so if you’re after that, go ahead and lower the temperature and lengthen the time in the oven (eg. 1 hour at 225 F, followed by several hours drying time). Other than those time considerations, this recipe is fantastic. The vinegar really makes a difference for texture, as does the cornstarch. I used the weight measurements, so I can vouch for those, but like above, I’m also providing volume conversions. This recipe made one pie crust and 18 good-sized (about 3 inches wide) meringues.
8 large egg whites
pinch of salt
500 grams granulated sugar (3 cups)
3 teaspoons cornstarch
1 scant teaspoon vanilla extract (optional– omit if you want snow-white meringues)
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar (white vinegar also works)
1.Preheat the oven to between 250-275 F. My oven runs a bit cold, so I went with 275. Remember you can go cooler and extend the cooking time if you wish. Prepare a pie pan by greasing and lightly flouring it if you are making a meringue pie crust. Line baking sheets with parchment paper for the mini-pavs.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or with a hand-held mixer) whisk the egg whites until they hold peaks, but aren’t stiff.
3. Add the sugar by spoonfuls while you continue to beat. When the sugar is added, continue beating until the meringue is stiff, glossy. A good test is that a bit of meringue pressed between your fingers no longer feels grainy from the sugar.
4. Dust with cornstarch, and sprinkle the vanilla and vinegar over the meringue. Gently fold to combine.
5. For pie crust, gently spread a thin layer of meringue into the pan, building it up along the edges, taking care not to overlap the edges of the pan (remember it will puff slightly). For the meringues, use a spoon to smooth out 3-inch circles on the parchment paper. If you’d like a cap that pulls off easily, dollop a bit of meringue on top of your smooth circles. The meringue should crack at the seams between the round bottom and pyramid top.
6. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, then turn off heat, stick a wooden spoon in the oven door to hold it slightly ajar, and allow meringues to “dry” in the oven for several hours or even overnight.
TO ASSEMBLE CRANBERRY CURD PAVLOVAS
-to make a cranberry-meringue tart, spread curd about a centimetre deep in prepared meringue pie shell. Bake at 350 F for about 10 minutes to set the curd a bit more
-for capped meringues, gently pull or cut off the top of your meringues, dollop a few tablespoons of curd inside the belly of the meringue, and replace the cap
- for smoother buttons of meringue, spread a layer of curd over the top of the meringue, and top with a swirl of whipped cream, if desired
Yes, it’s true. Things have been pom-centric around here lately. But I promised in my last post that I’d tell you the method I used for juicing a pomegranate. Here it is. I borrowed the basic idea from All The Marmalade, who has a great explanation and grenadine method.
Open a pomegranate and release the arils, in whatever is your favourite way (here’s ours). Once the arils are released, you need to crush them up with some sugar to macerate (think of what happens when you toss frozen berries with a bit of sugar– all that juice? Same idea.). My first attempt at this was a disaster: red hands, shredded saran wrap, and a stained potato masher was all that I got.
Then I had an inspiration– my potato ricer! It has holes larger than the seeds, so none could escape, and I could control the pressure so as not to crush the seeds with the juice and make it bitter*.
I scooped the seeds into the ricer, squeezed them gently over a bowl, then dumped the whole, crushed arils in with the released juice. A stay overnight in the fridge, and everything was ready to go.
One thing– if you’re making grenadine from this, you will still need to add more sugar to the reduced juice, but not as much as if you were starting with bottled pomegranate juice– the sugar maceration ensures that.
Technique and recipe:
To Juice a Pomegranate
I haven’t tried it yet, but I have a feeling this potato ricer technique would still work well without the sugar if you’re just going for the juice and don’t want any sweetness. Just skip the sugar/overnight maceration step. It’s a good alternative if you don’t have a juicer and don’t want any of the bitterness of the seeds in your juice.
1. Open a pomegranate and release the arils any way you find convenient.
2. Toss the arils with half their volume of granulated sugar (eg. 1 cup pomegranate=1/2 cup sugar)
3. Place the pomegranate/sugar mixture in a potato ricer and squeeze gently over a bowl to crush the arils and release some juice.
4. Toss the crushed arils in the juice, cover the bowl with cling wrap, and leave bowl in fridge to macerate overnight.
5. The next day, remove the bowl from the fridge and strain the mixture into a new bowl, crushing the arils gently to be sure you’re getting the most possible juice. Go ahead and use a potato ricer again if you want.
To make grenadine from your fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice
1. Measure the volume of juice that you’ve obtained.
2. Place the juice in a small saucepan and bring to a bare simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer until reduced by half.
3. Taste the syrup (cool it on a spoon first) for sweetness and check consistency. Add sugar if desired (I added approximately another 1/4 of the original volume). Bring back to a boil.
4. When the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and cool. Add a dash of vodka for preservation purposes and store in the fridge or freezer.
*On a side note, I got a great comment today on our grenadine post. Chelsey said that she’s made grenadine from fresh pomegranate before, and she juiced it by whirling the arils quickly through a food processor, another technique I’ve seen online (which has the benefit of being nice and simple. I must try this.) She said she liked how she got some seed flavour in the juice that way, but she noticed a bit of a similar “musty” flavour in her finished grenadine. So my conclusion is this: the reason the fresh pom grenadine I made tasted so much better to me is that it had NO seed in it. I assume that industrially-produced pomegranate juice is crushed to smithereens, and a huge amount of the seed goes into the juice, thus imparting that flavour that we both noticed! Something to think about.
I promised a grenadine recipe to my food writing class almost a month ago. Here it is, finally. When I first made the promise, I’d never made grenadine before, so I was far from an expert. When I set out to get the formula, I immediately turned a simple recipe into a complex test of techniques and flavours. That’s the history of the Great Grenadine Experiment. The result was five different grenadines, all of which are sitting in my freezer (GGE tip#1- the syrup has a high sugar content, and that along with a dash of vodka for preservation means that it won’t freeze solid in the freezer. It’ll last forever stored this way).
When I started reading about grenadine, I found that most of the syrups you buy in the store are unlikely to contain any pomegranate at all. They’re all corn syrup, artificial flavouring and red dye. A traditional grenadine is made from pomegranate (grenade is pomegranate in French–isn’t that a beautiful word? Then again, so is pomegranate) juice that is combined with sugar to make a thick syrup. I also found a few sources that mentioned cherry juice and orangeflower water as other possible ingredients. I thought I’d play with the cherry flavour, but I didn’t try any grenadine with orangeflower water. Next time. Or if someone gives it a shot (just a dash per 1 cup should do… it’s strong stuff), please let me know what you think!
So sugar and juice– that’s all right, easy to handle. Next step–technique. I found two basic techniques online, one “cold” and one “cooked.” So I tried them both. And I also discovered that some people juice their own pomegranate while others used prebottled juices. So I tried that too. All those techniques equalled the following combinations: pom/cherry juice cooked, pom/cherry juice cold, pom juice cooked, pom juice cold, and finally, fresh pom juice (which I cooked, as I didn’t have enough juice to try the cold… I know, serious scientific method failure).
GREAT GRENADINE EXPERIMENT
Hypothesis: I can make grenadine at home.
Method: The following two recipes, which can easily be doubled or tripled.
1 cup pomegranate juice (or pomegranate-cherry blend)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vodka (optional)
Bring the juice to a simmer over medium-high heat on the stovetop. Simmer it until it is reduced by half, then mix in the sugar, continuing to cook until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat, cool, add vodka, then refrigerate or freeze.
1 cup pomegranate juice (or pom-cherry blend)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vodka (optional)
Combine juice and sugar in a lidded jar, and shake until sugar is dissolved. Let the jar sit for a while, then shake again. Allow to sit once more, then shake again to finish. Honestly, all this shaking may not be necessary. I just really wanted to make sure the syrup was all un-sugar-crystallized. When the sugar is fully dissolved, add a dash of vodka, then refrigerate or freeze.
Pomegranate/ Cherry juice cooked: This is a dark syrup with a definite cherry flavour. Though the cherry juice was organic with no preservatives, Carlo felt that this had a “preserved” flavour that he didn’t find appealing. I liked the cherry flavour all right, but I felt that the cooked syrup tasted, for lack of a better word, a little musty.
Pomegranate/Cherry juice cold-method: This syrup was thinner and brighter flavoured, but tasted too much of cherries for me. The shaking left a bit of froth at the top of the juice, and the sugar concentration is obviously lower, as the syrup turns to slush in the freezer. I found I needed more of it to add enough flavour to the drink, but I much preferred its flavour to the cooked syrup.
Sub-Conclusion: Pomegranate/Cherry might be okay, but the proportions need to be adjusted so that it’s somewhere more like 3/4 pomegranate and 1/4 cherry juice.
Bottled Pomegranate Juice Cooked: This tastes dark and just slightly tangy. In my taste-testing, however, I found it very unpleasant. Like the cooked pom/cherry, it was musty tasting. It was actually my least favourite.
Bottled Pomegranate Juice Cold-Method: Like the cherry/pom combo, this was bright-tasting, but the lack of cherry made it a little heavier. I’m starting to think that maybe my pomegranate juice was at fault. (GGE hint #2- try a different bottled juice than President’s Choice brand)
FRESH pomegranate, juiced and Cooked: The most beautiful colour of the five, this syrup is candy-pink, thick and smooth, but it has the brighter, sunnier taste of the cold-method syrups. I’m sorry, dear readers, because this is obviously also the most labour-intensive syrup. But it really is the best. And I’ll tell you how I juiced the pomegranate in a separate post. It’s not really THAT hard to do.
FINAL CONCLUSION: Fresh pomegranate juice is the best! What do you think? Have you made grenadine before? What technique did you use?
Just for colour reference, here’s that picture from the top of the post again. It’s just grenadine in soda water. From left to right, the syrups are: cooked pom/cherry, cold pom/cherry, cooked fresh pom, cooked pom, and cold pom.
When I was a little girl, my best friend always came to school with fancy lunches full of things that were unheard of in my household: fruit roll-ups, sliced apples wrapped in saran wrap to keep them from browning, white bread. I was, I admit, jealous. From the vantage point of a 10-year-old raised on home-made whole wheat bread, apples peeled and browning in tupperware, and (okay, so I never minded the cookies) chocolate cookies made from scratch, my friend’s lunch was already pretty enviable. Then one day she showed up with a pomegranate.
I may have been bragging a little before (come on, as if homemade whole wheat bread did me any long-term damage), but I can tell you this humbly– I had never in my life seen nor heard of a pomegranate. Honestly, I don’t even know where her mom found it back then. I remember her nonchalantly pulling it apart, popping those brilliant red seeds in her mouth as if they were nothing, as if they were something she had every day, like ramen noodles or teddy grahams. She let me taste it, and I remember I was fascinated by the burst of juice as I bit into the seeds (now I know they’re called arils) and flummoxed by the little seed in the middle, which I spit out and dropped on the playground.
After that time, I never saw another pomegranate for years. Now, of course, pomegranate is everywhere. Those juicy little rubies jazz up every dish imaginable, and bottles of pom lurk in fridges across North America. But isn’t there still something impossibly exotic about a pomegranate?
Well, impossible, maybe. When I started buying pomegranates and trying to eat them with the nochalance of my old friend, I discovered one thing I hadn’t realized back then. That beautiful red? It’s really red, and it gets EVERYWHERE if you don’t know how to get into the fruit to release those little arils. Luckily, I’ve discovered a fool-proof (or at least juice-everywhere-proof) way to get into a pomegranate.
First, I cut a little cap off the top, like cutting a cap off a pumpkin. I do this at a shallow depth, to avoid cutting into the arils (see above). Once the top is off, I cut the pomegranate into quarters (like the photo at the top of this post), just scoring the skin (with the cap off, you’ll get an idea of the depth you need to cut so that you don’t cut into the arils). I pull the quarters apart, then submerge them in a bowl of water, gently pulling the little seeds away from the membrane. Actually, I’m not very gentle about it, to be honest, but with the pom underwater, there’s no danger of getting squirted with juice anyway. The arils will separate and fall to the bottom of the bowl, while the papery membrane will float to the top. When your pomegranate quarters are all emptied of seeds, just skim the floating membrane bits off the surface of the water, then drain the arils in a strainer.
Once you have the arils separated, you can store them in a bowl in the fridge, or do something crazy with them, like juice them to make homemade grenadine. Oh yes, that post is coming soon.
High time for the SiS team to learn its chops! Hanne and I recently attended NAIT Culinary School’s Art of Garde Manger & Knife Skills course. We spent three four-hour sessions in these kitchens:
There’s Hanne in the back of the room interviewing Chef Roote. Hanne was working double duty as she was on assignment for Vue Weekly. If you’re interested in all the nitty gritty, jump over here.
I tagged along because I’ve always wanted to work in a professional kitchen. I’ve read books and articles on chefs and their kitchens. I simultaneously romanticize and pragmatize this life when cooking. I want to work dans le merde, even though I know that means in the shit. I want to work in a lively, chaotic environment, but don’t want to get pushed around or yelled at (you reading this, Hanne?). I often tell Hanne, while doing the prep work for dinner, that if someone would pay me well to chop and slice food all day, that would be exactly what I’d do. But not only do I not chop and slice well enough, a chef’s work is meant for people with figuratively and literally thicker skin than me.
I was excited to take this course because I could pretend. I did the pretending in my head, so not to embarrass Hanne. Like calling the chef, “chef” or my prepared ingredients my mise or asking if I could wear a toque. I didn’t actually yell at people to get out of my way, but thought of cantakerous ways I would have while waiting impatiently for them to get THE HELL out of my way. I didn’t actually scold a guy for putting a knife in the sink… no wait. I actually did. It is a sure-fire way to dull a knife, after all. Man, I’m an asshole.
The fun wasn’t all in fantasizing. I learnt a lot. I have decent knife skills, but the chefs gave me a gamut of tips to sort out a few bad habits. The best tip was to simply move my cutting board to the edge of the counter so that my fist (the one holding the knife) wouldn’t get in the way when side-slicing an onion. Painfully obvious. “Thanks for the tip,” I said, and at the end of the sentence I swallowed the word chef and washed it down with my pride.
Chef also told me to take my time. I learnt the bear claw/knuckles knife technique around the same time we launched SiS and have spent the last year and a half NOT cutting myself with the chef’s knife. I got so good at not cutting myself that I invested all excess energy into doing it fast. But while quickly pounding a carrot into a haphazard rumble strip is fast, it ain’t good. I was told to take my time and be more precise, which you may have read about in Hanne’s chowder post. What I learnt in this course paid off on the chowder as all the veg. cooked through evenly (perfectly!) and, although you couldn’t see it in the post’s picture, the symmetry of the cubes looked great on the spoon and felt great to chew.
Precision was also called upon in class when making canapes and sandwich displays. I’m now convinced that paying attention to presentation is important. Seeing all the food laid out pretty in class made me even hungrier and although the moment was fleeting, I did at first eat with my eyes.
The course was a lot of fun and I encourage you to read Hanne’s article. She spent way more time working on it than I did on this post, so if you’ve read this far, you owe her a read. Also, if you’re a foodie in Edmonton, check out NAIT’s list of part time culinary courses.
I decided to try out my mother-in-law’s bread machine today. I’ver never used a bread machine before, and the loaf (challah, if you’d like to know) isn’t even a third of the way done, and I have no idea how it’s going to turn out. But it’s already a success to me, because I’ve just discovered something very interesting to me as a Canadian baker (sorry to my American buddies, this probably isn’t at all useful to you, unless you feel like importing Canadian flour). In the past year or so I’ve been experimenting with flour types, buying bread flour instead of all-purpose because it’s what my bread books advise.
In preparation for baking a bread machine loaf, I pulled up the Black & Decker bread machine manual and discovered that they provide different recipes for Americans and Canadians. Why? As it turns out, I didn’t need to be using bread flour all this time! All-purpose flour is a blend of hard wheat, which has more protein (gluten), and soft wheat, which has less. Canadian wheat is harder in general, and the blend leans more toward hard flour, so Canadians can generally use all-purpose flour for any bread recipe, as the protein content is about equal to American bread flour.
I’m not exactly sure what bearing this has on my cake/cookie/pastry baking, but I’ve never had too much trouble all-purposing those either. Maybe we ought to start experimenting with cake flour? Does anyone outside of North America have any ideas about flours elsewhere? How about Americans? Do you use bread flour or all-purpose flour for your baking? Have you noticed any differences?
ps. Hi everyone! We’re back! (and obviously can’t resist a bit of metablogging in nearly every post)
It’s easy to be in love with an idea; it’s a lot harder to follow through on its execution.
I’ve been thinking about baking French bread for a long time now. The idea of pulling a crispy, golden baguette out of my oven appealed to my romantic bread-baker side, but it seemed so complicated. I was scared. I’m not very fond of failing, and I’d often rather not do something at all than to do it and get it wrong. I know, I know. That’s not very daring of me.
I’ve been putting off French bread for all sorts of reasons: I don’t have a spray bottle for misting the bread and making steam, I don’t have a fancy bread lame, I don’t have a canvas baking couche for proofing the bread. Oh, and I wasn’t really sure what proofing meant. And then there’s this:
We were lucky that our stove was included in our apartment, but not so lucky with the stove itself. It’s a million years old, with only one rack inside. The burners go out once a month, the broiler seldom works, and it runs at least 20 degrees cooler than it’s supposed to. It’s so poorly insulated that it just can’t hold its heat. This stove should be a recipe for failure.
So I was unreasonably thrilled when I found out that Julia Child’s French bread was my very first Daring Bakers challenge. If I failed, well, so be it. It wasn’t going to be my fault–I didn’t have the right supplies! As it turns out, Julia Child’s detailed instructions, combined with some anxiety and improvisation with equipment, gave us an amazing result. This was SO not a failure. What we had in the end was a bread with a moist, almost creamy crumb, with large holes; and a crisp, golden, crackling crust that sprang open beautifully where I slashed it before slipping it into the oven. The recipe made three baguettes slightly longer than 12 inches each.
I’m so happy (and pleasantly surprised!) with how this bread turned out, especially given the equipment I was working with. That’s the magic of Julia Child and 10-page-long instructions. The only thing I would do differently is to use better flour. With the intention of conquering my perfectionism, I decided to use the regular, not-special all purpose flour I had in the house. With three(!) rises, and so few ingredients (water, flour, yeast, salt), the flavour of the flour really develops, so it only makes sense to use the best you can get your hands on. I’ll do this next time. And yes, there will be a next time.
The Daring Bakers is a huge group, and there’s a lot of bread online today, so I won’t reprint the recipe. You can check it out here. What I’d like to offer you are some of the resources, materials, and techniques I used.
KNEADING: I’m always a pretty anxious cook, and I was especially so with this recipe. On the day of my baking, my nerves were eased when I discovered this video of Richard Bertinet demonstrating his kneading technique. This was perfect for the French bread dough. Ignore the ingredients he’s using and just focus on the super-cool kneading. My damp, sticky dough was transformed, but I didn’t need to use any extra flour, so the final product wasn’t even the slightest bit tough!
RISING: Here’s a trick my mother has used for years. I use my oven for the first rise, and in the case of this bread, the second rise too. I set my oven to the lowest temperature it runs at. I leave it there for two minutes, and then turn it off, turning on the oven light at the same time. This makes a nice cozy environment for the bread to grow in. Another trick is to put the covered bowl of dough on top of the fridge. It’s usually nice and warm up there too.
Another essential is patience. This dough required hours to rise to its full height. It had finally gone through its final rise and fully cooked 12 HOURS after I first pulled the flour off the shelf. Monitor the dough closely, but don’t skimp on time.
MAKING STEAM AND HEAT: Julia Child’s recipe recommends unglazed quarry tiles and a spray bottle to reproduce the heat and steam of a professional bread baking oven. Well, I didn’t have those, but I do have a pizza stone. I heated the oven hotter than the recommended temperature with the pizza stone inside. This heated the stone up nice and hot, so it would hold the heat that our crappy oven couldn’t. When I slid the baguettes onto the stone, we made steam by tossing a bit of water directly onto the bottom of the oven. The recipe recommends ice cubes, but I didn’t want to sacrifice any heat at all (precious, precious, heat), so we used hot water. We did it three times, about a minute between each steam bath. Carlo whipped open the oven door, I tossed the water from a cookie sheet directly onto the floor of the oven, and Carlo whipped the door closed again. Total time per steam bath: maybe 5 seconds. After all that, I finally reduced the oven heat to the recommended temperature.
NOT BEING AFRAID: Don’t be afraid!
You can see other Daring Bakers’ French bread by going to the Daring Bakers Blogroll.