Welding gloves and other baking essentials

Josh wanted pictures, so here are a few. If I understand this correctly, you can click on the thumbnail and get a larger version.

I have been on a bread baking binge this week. It’s partly Ben’s fault (“You’re bread is wonderful. I ate it all up,” words everyone likes to hear froma mate). But it’s partly the fact that I got some new baking toys yesterday on our all-day shopping marathon. I got two new bread peels (the wooden boards you use to slide bread into a hot oven) and a new pastry cloth (that allows me to fool with how I shape things without messing up the gluten skin). I also got six new 6″x6″ baking tiles that might be the prettiest stone I’ve ever seen. The distributor calls it India jade. It’s a pale aquamarine color in a sort of marble finish. I think the fact that things need to be functional does not eliminate the need for them also to be pretty.

Here’s today’s product:

 Bread, 1-5

These were baked in what I call the heart of the kitchen, the replica of an antique woodstove we bought last year. I do most of my cooking on this stove:


Now, in case you’re wondering what welding gloves have to do with this, the various interior parts of a wood cookstove get VERY hot. So my nephew, after observing the big burn marks on my arms, bought me a pair of rose-colored welding gloves. They’re not great pot holders (they don’t have much insulation), but they are terrific at allowing me to bump my arm against a 500-600 degree surface and emerge unscathed. Thank you Ralph.

Here’s a sunset from a couple of nights ago:



20 Responses to “Welding gloves and other baking essentials”

  1. Armin Says:

    Wow, that’s a nice oven! What’s that door towards the top for, the wide one stretching across it?

    Reminds me a little bit of the Aga, which you’ll find in some places here in the UK. Not sure if they’re known in the US. Unfortunately they use a lot of fuel and are therefore expensive to run, so some people had to turn theirs off (you pretty much keep them on all day).

    I think I’ll have to try baking some muffins now, bread will have to wait until next weekend. And the Bremer Klaben I made a few weeks ago is now really ready for consumption, it gets better with age.

  2. Heath Says:

    I remember in high school my german teacher gave all of us sourdough bread starter…actually, now that I think of it, it was middle school.

    So I took home a cup, and made my own sourdough bread, and brought her a loaf to try. She said it was some of the best sourdough she’d ever had. Go me 🙂

    Anyway….I avoid bread these days, as I try to limit my carbs to zero or less 😉 hah…..

  3. mklekacz Says:

    Hi, guys. I love my stove. For those who can’t tell, it’s an all-wood replica of a turn of the century (20th, not 21st) cookstove still manufactured primarily, I think, for the Amish communities. But most of the parts are interchangeable with the antique models–same casting molds and so on.

    Armin, the broad door at the top is for what’s called a “warming oven.” The chimney runs right behind it, and the internal temperature gets to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s fabulous for big breakfasts, holiday meals, and other occasions where you want to precook something (like bacon, stuffing, mashed potatoes) and keep it warm while other last minute things are happening.

    My stove is cheap to use, unless you count the hours spent cutting and splitting firewood. I saw an Aga in Portland, but we’ve been looking at these Heartland stoves for 20 years (way before Heartland, a Canadian company, bought the Elmira Stove Company), so when it was time to buy, that’s what we bought.

    Your Bremer Klaben reminds me a little of the plum pudding I make each year on Thanksgiving weekend so that I can douse it liberally in brandy each Sunday in Advent and then set it on fire on Christmas. Same thing–much better with age.

    Heath, don’t take carbs too seriously. There are carbs and there are carbs. Stay away from refined sugars but eat all of the good bread you can get your hands on. Your body will thank you for it. But if you want sourdough flavor without all of the hassle, add a tablespoon or two of dark rye flour to your bread mix. It works.


  4. Spring is well and truly here--uh, oh « Marianne’s Virtual Salon Says:

    […] I just went looking for the pictures I posted on my blog back in January of the bread baked in my wood stove. I wanted share them with Whig. It took me forever to find them (this was before I started using tags or it probably would have been simpler), but finally I did. I posted them at Whig’s place (Cannablog in my blogroll), but if you missed them, they’re here. […]

  5. whig Says:

    Your bread is beautiful!

  6. mklekacz Says:

    It’s really tasty, too, and keeps much better than store bread.

  7. whig Says:

    Did you find your own starter?

  8. mklekacz Says:

    No. In fact, this uses plain old yeast. It’s basically flour, water, and yeast, although I do fool with the flour mixture a bit to get a kind of sour dough taste using rye. It comes from a Julia Child recipe about 30 years old that I cut out of the paper.

    Two things make it special. One of them is the way it’s worked. Julia was rather persnickety and precise in that regard, but I won’t pooh-pooh it because the bread is very different done the traditional way and done her way to get the really great gluten skin. The other secret is those silly baking stones which make the bottom crust as good as the top.

    If you want the recipe, let me know. It’s really simple.

  9. whig Says:

    I’m thinking of starting another loaf sometime with a different herb, and test out some new ideas I have. Rather than using a honey emulsifier I might use agave nectar, and keep all the ingredients completely vegan-friendly.

    I live near San Francisco Bay and it’s apparently really easy to find a yeast here, it took me only three days last time. I don’t have a lot of interest in a commercial yeast recipe because I don’t have to resort to that.

    I can tell you how to find your own yeast, if you’re interested. It means a much more time-intensive process, and you might have to bake several loaves before you find it becoming a mature strain. What’s nice about it is you then have your own bread which is a living breathing organism.

  10. mklekacz Says:

    I’d love to know about natural yeast.

    But you shouldn’t be spending agave on bread. It’s needed for tequila. ;^}

  11. whig Says:

    I prefer cannabis to alcohol, personally….

    The most basic idea of obtaining yeast is just put out a little bowl of flour and water, and every day you dispose half and replenish it. You can leave it uncovered somewhere on a kitchen counter where it won’t be in the way. After a few days (or longer, it all depends on your environment I think) you will start to see it developing bubbles. Then you can put it in the refrigerator loosely covered and just remember to feed it once a week, and when you are feeding it you can use the part that you would have disposed and make bread with it.

    In addition to flour and water you can add other ingredients, and in my case I was trying for an herbally conscious yeast, so I used my herbs and some olive oil, with a little honey to emulsify (blend) the oil and water. Once I had a yeast I also began adding a bit of sea salt each time I fed it as well, as this helps to keep bacteria and other non-yeast things from growing.

    I also used some raisins in my first mixture and for awhile after, the idea is that there may be some yeast already present on the skins of the grapes. I’ve seen recipes that call for using grapes directly but I’d worry about spoilage using non-dried fruit in your starter.

  12. whig Says:

    One more thing: I recommend organic ingredients if possible, and don’t use metal implements. I guess that’s two things.

  13. mklekacz Says:

    Whig, your basic recipe is a description of classic sourdough. The yeast spores, as I understand it, come from the air. The flour/water mixture is to grow them.

    Thanks for the info.

  14. whig Says:

    Yes, except it isn’t sour because the sourness comes from bacteria which grow alongside the yeast, but if you salt your starter when you feed it that will largely prevent them.

    Higher organisms (including humans) are made of yeast cells, called eukaryotes, We are colonies of yeast.

  15. mklekacz Says:

    I really prefer Carl Sagan’s description. I like to think of myself as a collection of stardust. . .

  16. whig Says:

    That too. 🙂

    Yes, the whole universe is a living thing.

  17. Pat Says:


    I’ve come into possession of a stove exactly like yours but in black (with rust). Yours looks amazing. Do you know the approximate year of the model? Was yours restored or did you order some replacement parts to spruce it up?

  18. Marianne Says:

    Pat, I bought mine new a couple of years ago. I suspect it had been sitting at the stove dealer’s a while, so I would guess it’s an early 2000 model. But it’s a Heartland, and they haven’t changed the parts in decades. They used to be the Elmira Stove Company. We have some old brochures from 20 or more years ago. That’s how long I shopped. . .

    You don’t say what part of the country you’re in, but your best bet for replacement parts is to find some old guy working out of a garage somewhere that loves the stoves and has been collecting parts for years. It will also make a difference what the brand of your stove is.

    We found a man near Mulino, Oregon, that was actually casting replacement parts and had a warehouse full of them. But you find these people more or less by accident, I think. They don’t generally advertise except by world-of-mouth, and I doubt that many of them are on the Web.

    But I could be wrong.

  19. Pat Says:

    I’m starting to wonder if I might be an idiot. I bought an old house that had an Elmira Oval woodstove left behind. Because it’s beat up and rusty, I assumed it was an antique. I’m getting the distinct impression that it may have been manufactured in recent decades and only looks old because of its crappy condition. Say it isn’t so! Were there Elmira stoves around in, oh say, 1920? Or are were they all made fairly recently in a style reminiscent of the old days.

    I swore this would never happen again when I bought that beat up 2003 VW Bug and thought it was vintage 1962!

  20. Marianne Says:

    Pat, the Elmira Stove Works has been around a long time. But sometime around 1990, they sold the wood cooksstove business to Heartland (we have an Elmira brochure from around 1980, so it was after that). But the designs haven’t changed much, so if you decide to repair your Oval, you can probably still get replacement parts from Heartland.

    If yours is branded Elmira, it’s old enough to officially be an “antique.”


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