It’s obviously one of those weeks – except this time let’s name names.
You see that curly bit that looks like one of those contraptions they have at garden fetes where you have to move a metal ring on a handle along a twisted rod without touching it. If you get to the end you win a coconut but if you touch the rod a bell rings and you’ve lost your threepenny bit. Well, that’s the top element in our domestic oven made by a smart up-market New Zealand company called Fisher & Paykel. Yes, we have baked bread in it usually at a temperature of 200C which is hardly excessive and, what’s more, that’s the second element to have turned into a corkscrew.
Being an expensive, trendy sort of oven it has a top element, a bottom element and a ring element behind the fan. Sometime after the top element died for the second time I discovered that it could produce some very decent bread just using the element behind the fan. So, my recent routine has been to bake bread in tens – six in the BlueSeal and four in the domestic oven.
Lesson One: Trust your nose. This week’s bread was Nina’s wonderful Watermill Loaf making use of Felin Ganol’s local flours. I could smell burning two thirds of the way through the first bake but I’m so used to doing 50 minute bakes without any problems that I didn’t bother to check. When the timer went off the four in the little oven looked pretty burnt. Assumed it was something to do with the barley flour which I don’t use too often.
Put in the second load and turned the oven down half way through the bake. Smelt burning, took them out after 40 minutes. A little too charred for comfort.
Left the oven on, put in oven thermometer in which was soon at 250C and rising. Dead thermostat – end of oven – off to Bangor, City of Students, tomorrow to buy Comet’s cheapest.
Lesson Two: As Professor Calvel says, it’s very hard to overbake bread. You can burn the outside but it’s hard to ruin the interior.
In the photograph it doesn’t look too bad but in reality I was working out combinations of giving customers ordering two loaves of bread one of the burnt ones for free.
There were enough loaves to do this but we took the most burnt one, cut slices from the middle and it was absolutely delicious.
Nina, my hero.
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In the end we went for John Lewis cheapest Hotpoint £210 + £60 extended 6 year warranty. John Lewis are noted for cheapness and reliability, aren’t they? They phoned back with a delivery date (today) then Friday they txted me a three hour slot, then this morning the driver phoned and said he would arrive “at my property” in about 15 minutes. All very impressive. Except they brought the wrong oven. Instead of a single electric oven, they brought a gas double oven. They got the Hotpoint bit right.