I made Baked Beans today. I took a recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything and compared it to a recipe from The New All-Purpose Joy of Cooking 1997. I like Bittman’s approach using expandable recipes. I have two editions of Joy, an older edition from the 70’s and the new one from 1997. I would like to get the most recent version as well. These books are full of such great information and techniques in addition to the recipes. When I use a cook book I rarely use the recipe verbatim (unless I am baking. Baking is a science that demands respect). I usually open up a couple books with recipes for the dish I am trying to make and then create something that borrows from each – whether it be an ingredient or a technique.
I remember eating baked beans when I was a kid. One of the best parts of this meal was the brown bread with cream cheese. We used to make this bread from scratch, baking it in empty coffee cans. It was fun to open the closed end when finished baking and push the loaf out the other side. The dark, sweet, round slices were a real novelty smeared with the white cream cheese.
So, I decided to bake brown bread. I used the Joy recipe and cleaned up some cans for the molds. Unfortunately, these were the new-fangled cans that have a rounded bottom that you can’t grab hold of with a can opener. I am glad I realized this before backing the bread. Would have been a mess getting the loaves out (visions of blow torches and face masks).
I used a small spring form pan instead. I buttered the bottom plate of a slightly larger spring form pan to cover the one with the batter in it. I placed a rock on the lid to keep the dough compressed as it baked and placed the whole shebang in the steamer basket of the Mehu-Liisa, started the water boiling and set the timer for 45 minutes.
After 45 minutes I put more water in the water pan and set the timer again for 45 mins. This way I was sure not to run out of water in the water pan. After 1.5 hours, I tested the bread and decided it needed 30 more minutes. I did this by sticking a wooden skewer, very slender, into the very middle of the bread to see if it was clean when it came out. It was clean but stuck a little on the draw out. That’s why I decided more time was necessary. 30 more minutes.
So after another 30 minutes (2 hours in all) I lifted the loaf out of the steamer and let it cool for 15 mins. It came out of the spring form very easily. Incidentally, the plate and stone lid worked well to contain the swelling loaf during the steaming. The batter filled the form about 3/4 full and raised to push up against the bottom of the lid. Here it is:
A resounding success! I will definitely do this again. I can imagine it will work for plum pudding and other steamed dishes:
Well, I got to go stir the beans. Let me know if you have any great ideas for using the Mehu-Liisa Steam Juicer.
Take Care – Daniel