Sunday, May 04, 2008
A good first attempt
Today was my first attempt at free form loaves in the Beehive. It was a very hot sunny day and it did not look like it was going to rain. At 2pm, I fired up the oven and tried out the Otah recipe from Mrs Leong Yee Soo's cookbook. It was so hot in the oven that the banana leaves singed in a couple of minutes. When I opened the banana leaf wrapping, it was moist as if it was steamed in the leaf. I would have love it a little more dry but it looked as if the leaf was going to give way soon. The one in the steel tray was a little more to my liking but we forgot to line the tray with banana leaf. It would have been perfect with the aroma of the leaf.
I decided to repeat a foccacia as the oven was not big enough to accomodate 3 loaves on the hearth. This time round, the foccacia baked in a steel roaster did a lot better.
Next came the finale. By then, the sky had turned ominously dark and I was really afraid that I'd have to shove out the coals and cover the oven. This would have been a disaster as I was not sure if the plastic canvas can stand the heat of the oven. Fortunately the sky brightened up again.
The charcoals were shoved out, followed by a good brushing of the hearth to clear away the remaining dust. Next, a wet rag was used to mop the oven to clear away any remaining ash. I was a little apprehensive that the hearth will crack but all I could see was the little bit of moisture evaporating in the high heat. The loaves were loaded into the oven on the back of a tray.
The oven spring in the beehive was tremendous. It was much greater than those baked in my other ovens. My only disappointment was that the crust was only golden brown. I would have loved them a little redder and glossier.