This post is for Rosie, who emailed me yesterday with a question on whether or not it is possible to prove bread in a halogen oven.
For those of you that don't know, a halogen convection oven / cooker is a small table top oven that sits on your kitchen worktop. It has a fan inside and a halogen heating element bulb. They cook solid things like meat joints and potatoes much quicker than a standard fan oven (usually at least twice as fast) and use approximately 1/3 of the power of a standard fan oven. My fan oven is 4500W and the halogen oven is 1200 > 1400W.
You can see a number of things I've made in the halogen oven along with cooking times on our website under Halogen Oven Recipes.
Most oven ready meals cook in half the recommended packet time (often less) using no preheat and using approximately one third of the power which makes a massive energy saving. I do use it a lot for things like that - such as a garlic bread to go with soup / salad / pasta, fish fingers or chicken nuggets for Oliver. The things we all buy now and again when we can't be bothered cooking from scratch.
I now also cook all my roasts in it as not only is it quicker and more energy efficient, but the meat is so much more succulent. Unless you try it, you'll need to take my word on that ! Actully - it's on again doing baked potatoes now...
Many people say you cannot cook bread or pastry in a halogen oven - but this really isn't so. I've had good success with shortcrust pastry, puff pastry and home made bread and rolls.
Anyway - back to proving bread. In the winter time, when my wood burning stove is on, our house is lovely and warm and proving bread is no problem. However, it's not really warm enough indoors at the moment with no heating and it takes forever to rise. Putting it in the halogen oven ensures a warm and draught free place
I normally make bread dough by hand from scratch. However, I'm trialling food mixers at the moment with a view to selling them on http://www.siliconemoulds.com/ next year. For quickness and ease, I used a packet of Wrights Parmesan & Sun Dried Tomato Bread mix and put it in the food mixer to mix and do the hard bit.
It's a 500g packet which makes a good sized loaf.
After removing the dough from the mixer, I kneaded by hand for a few minutes until silky and then put it on the halogen oven baking tray. I covered this loosely with oiled cling film, and put it in the halogen oven to prove. Temperature setting I used was just over half way between the off and thaw setting.
Not enough heat to cook - only enough heat to warm the bowl. The light occasionally came on for a second or two - but very very infrequently.
The dough had at least doubled in size in 30mins. If you wanted to make a more traditional shape loaf rather than free-form like this, use a 2lb loaf tin or the equivalent in a flexible silicone bakeware mould.
I then removed the cling film and turned the temperature up to 200 deg C I think it was (as on the packet for fan oven) and cooked for 20 mins before turning over and doing the base to get it nice and crispy for another 10. In retrospect, I think I would have been better using the extension ring as I did previously and cooking for 25 mins before turning over for 5 mins. Time wise, it took as long as it would have in a fan oven but without preheating and still used 1/2 of the energy. Bread loafs seem to take quite a while - almost as long as oven time though making rolls requires much less than the suggested time.
It made a nice big tasty loaf. I shoved it on a bread board and took it a 20min drive to work where it was demolished warm, in well under 10mins by 3 hungry lads.
Sarah-Jane Nash - The silicone bakeware cook shop - http://www.siliconemoulds.com/