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.