In My Kitchen: March 2012

I’m in my kitchen this chilly March with an electric heating pad, and four miniature ceramic loaf pans that each hold 250g dough. I can’t promise that I won’t be back again this month with more; March is still young, and Celia’s monthly feature at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial is so much fun.

THE HEATING PAD BREAD TRICK:

I first read about the heating pad trick on the internet, natch, and couldn’t wait to see if it worked. My worktops are granite, and in the winter they are extremely cold because of the large windows in the kitchen and lack of direct sunlight to warm them the surfaces. Setting a filled loaf pan on a heating pad to encourage the dough to rise seemed like a good idea, and I couldn’t wait to try it. The result? It works! Really, truly works. The medium setting was a bit too high, so I turned it down to low, and within 45-minutes the dough (500g) had nearly doubled in size. A few days later I tried it with the ceramic pans, too. Success there, also.

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MINIATURE CERAMIC LOAF PANS

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I bought these mini ceramic pans at Lakeland. I’d been salivating my way through their iPad catalogues and spotted them. They’re cute; petite; beige earthenware colour. One concern was that you must bake the bread in them from cold – so no preheating the oven because the suddenly temperature difference will crack the pans (so warns the instructions). You flour the internal surface as the method of release from the pan. I didn’t trust it entirely on the first go, so I used parchment paper.

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The bread baked fine from a cold oven and released from the pan without problem. A few days later I tried baking soda bread in them without parchment paper, just floured the surfaces and plopped the sticky dough in the cold pans. No problems! Baked and released just fine.  They are wonderful for single servings of bread with dinner.

And from my kitchen window, I’m enjoying this bright and cheery vision of early March flowers in my garden.

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Click the link to join in on Celia’s monthly “In My Kitchen” post.

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20 Comments Add yours

  1. Hey, Misk, those flowers are wonderful! It’s still chilly here, too. Good you have time to spend in your kitchen. Sometimes, when I’m overpressed with work, I dream of such time, and then 😉 I suddenly remember that I can make only a few things which do not, actually, deserve any extraordinary attention 😀
    Yet, I am sincerely in awe with people who enjoy their art of cooking!
    Congrats on all you do, my extremely bright friend, Misk!
    (I can’t help thinking of the moment I realised you were a girl, while I had been thinking you a boy, all through Nov PAS 2010.)
    Hey, check the new poems on my blog, I decided to add pics to them – makes the mood overall better 😉

    1. Misky says:

      Hi Mariya! Thank you so much for keeping in touch. 🙂 I wish your poetry blog had an email subscription option so I’d know when you post new poetry. I’ve subscribed to the RSS feed instead. I enjoy reading your poetry; I always have. It’s fresh and light and wonderful.

      I just left a comment on one of my favourite poems that you wrote. It’s a wordle, which I always find difficult. You manage them with easy, my very clever friend. 😀

  2. Tandy says:

    The pans sound interesting as well as the heating pad trick 🙂

    1. Misky says:

      Yes, interesting is a good word for those pans. Baking bread in a cold oven (not pre-heated and no steam) goes against everything I’ve learnt (mostly from my bread oracle, Joanna), so it was a real test of faith to use them. Happily, the customer service people at Lakeland said I could return them for a full refund, no questions asked, if I didn’t like them. I think I’ll keep them; they didn’t cost a fortune, and they’re fit for purpose. 🙂

      The heating pad trick was a revelation to me, and now I can proof bread in my kitchen rather than in the airing cupboard. 😀 Yeah!

  3. pfgarden says:

    Hi Misky
    The heat pad is a great idea. I used one to get a sour dough starter going. It was very sad until I sat it on the heat pad and then it instantly came to life.

    1. Misky says:

      Hi, and thank you for posting a comment! It’s funny just what a difference a heating pad can make for waking up bread dough or a starter, eh?! I will remember for the future that it also works well for a starter. So far mine’s survived everything I throw at it, but one never knows!

      I just had a browse around your blog. Very nice. Enjoyed your In My Kitchen post, too. 😀

  4. heidi says:

    Hi Misk- I have those pans – well- not exactly THOSE pans, but similar stoneware and have found them quite good for breads. I used to make Cuban bread for a friend of mine and it is baked from a cold oven. it seems to have plenty of oven rise and a very good flavor. The crumb was rather fine- but their family loved it that way.
    I’ve also used a heating pad to start seedlings.
    Thanks for the tips!

    1. Misky says:

      Hi Heidi! Did you also use flour as a release method, or did you use parchment paper? That’s a great idea for the seedlings by the way. It hadn’t occurred to me but you’re absolutely right about it. 🙂

      1. heidi says:

        I used semolina flour- a light dusting, and my stoneware was already proofed lightly with oil.

        1. Misky says:

          Ah. Semolina, eh? I have some of that. I’ll try dusting the pans with that next time. 🙂

  5. Great! Semolina flour is great for dusting, isn’t it. Love the little pans… and the heating pads are really interesting. My mother was an artisan baker and she always taught me the importance of keeping the yeast warm… we weren’t allowed to have any draughts in the room when she was baking. Did you buy those pads on the internet? Love the flowers too, such a cheerful view from the kitchen window.

    1. Misky says:

      Hi Lizzy, the heating pad is just a normal type that you can buy anywhere for putting on stiff muscles, like your shoulder or back. Do you have that sort of thing that you can buy in your local shops?

  6. Well, Misk, you always find the coolest tricks for me! I had a problem getting my bread to rise and had a perfectly good heating pad upstairs that I could have used.. next time I’ll be doing this for sure!! Love your flowers, dying of jealousy.. we’ve had tons of snow…

    1. Misky says:

      I was amazed how much time that heating pad knocked off the total proofing time! Give it a try and tell me how you get on. 😀

      1. I will, btw I also got your email re the butter paper.. very cool!!

  7. Misk, thanks for playing! The heating mat is a great idea, and the ceramic pans are seriously cute, although I don’t have much luck with the baking from cold bit. No idea why, I have friends who do it all the time, but I just end up with a hard lump of a loaf. I might need to rethink my recipe..

    1. Misky says:

      I once saw a recipe on the internet (somewhere!) for artisan-type sourdough bread baked from cold. If I ever find it again, I’ll shout out its location. 🙂

  8. Sous Chef says:

    I love Lakeland I make a bee-line for their shop whenever I visit my parents in England. Beautiful spring flowers!

  9. frizztext says:

    I like the clear order in your recipes & kitchen & photos & web-design

    1. Misky says:

      Thank you. 🙂

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