Convection oven works great

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People have asked whether our recipes can be made in convection ovens. They can, and the only reason we didn’t mention convection ovens in our first book is that most people don’t have them.

But convection ovens do a great job with bread– the bread browns easier and rises higher when the convection fan is blowing. After ten years of living with a broken convection fan, we finally had a mechanic look at it who knew how to fix it. So I’ve been re-testing everything with convection.  First, lower the heat by 25 degrees F. Make sure that the convection fan isn’t fooling your thermostat (use an oven thermometer).

For a loaf-pan bread made from Italian Peasant Bread dough (page 46 of ABin5), the loaf baked faster than usual (about 25 to 30 minutes), rose higher, browned more deeply, and was more attractive. The pan was placed directly on the stone near the center of the oven and baked with steam (page 30). The loaf was heavenly when cooled and cut. Perfect custard crumb (dough was a week old) and richly carmelized crust.

In many convection ovens, you will need to be more attentive to turning the loaf around, at least once at the midpoint of baking or beyond. Otherwise you’ll get uneven browning.

But be aware that many newer convection ovens automatically make an adjustment, so consult the owners manual that came with your oven before deciding what to do about the set temperature. 

More in The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and our other books.

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1st Books Signing at Borders!

1st Book Signing at Borders!Yesterday we had our first book signing at the Borders in Rosedale Center. We met what seemed like hundreds of enthusiastic bakers and bakers-to-be, all coming by to sample our Italian peasant loaves. Everyone that stopped had a story of their own bread baking or wanted to share their grandmother’s recipe. We sold and signed the entire stock of books in just a couple of hours. It was fantastic! (more…)

Grissini– Olive Oil Breadsticks

Hmm. What to do with that leftover prosciutto? Better wrap it around some Italian breadsticks (grissini). Grissini are infused with olive oil, but since the oil infuses just as nicely when drizzled over the unbaked sticks as when mixed into the dough, you have a variety of choices of which pre-mixed dough to use– you don’t have to use an olive oil dough (even our olive oil dough will need additional oil). This batch was made with a basic peasant dough (page 46), but as below, it works nicely with any of the listed ones.

Immediately after being photographed, the grissini consented to being wrapped with strips of prosciutto and consumed with white wine.

Makes a generous handful of grissini

Use any of these pre-mixed doughs: Boule (page 26), European Peasant (page 46), Olive Oil (page 134), Light Whole Wheat (page 74), or Italian Semolina (page 80)

1/2 pound (orange-size portion) of any pre-mixed dough listed above

Olive oil for drizzling, preferably extra-virgin, dispensed from a small-tipped squeeze bottle

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. A baking stone is optional, but if you’re using one, allow for a 20 minute preheat, otherwise 5 minutes is adequate.

2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat, or simply grease it well with olive oil.

2. Take a small piece of dough and gently roll it into a ball. Gradually stretch and roll the ball on a lightly floured wooden board until you achieve sticks with a diameter of about 1/8 to 1/4 inch. Lay them out on the prepared cookie sheet with an inch or so between each stick.

3. Generously drizzle a stream of olive oil over each stick.

4. Bake near the center of the oven for approximately 6 to 10 minutes. Grissini are done when they are nicely browned and beginning to crisp (they will firm up when they cool). Serve plain as an hors d’oeuvre or with one half wrapped with a prosciutto strip.

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