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All About Baking

( Originally Published 1904 )



THIS is the process of cooking in a close, heated oven. The essential difference between baking and roasting is that in the former process the air in the oven is unchanged through-out the entire time of cooking; while in roasting there must be a current of air passing through the oven, taking the place of that air which passes off by ventilation. This difference, though slight, is essential. Yet the so-called " roasted " meat is most frequently only baked.

There can be no comparison between the qualities of properly roasted meat and baked meat. In the latter process the outside of the meat is parched and hardened and the quality and flavor of the baked meat are much inferior to those of properly roasted meat.

The essential principle in well baked meat or fish is to keep the juices within the article of food as far as possible. One step toward this is to put the meat in a pan with fat and without water, and place in the oven made as hot as possible. The first few minutes in the hot oven will harden the outer surface and close the pores so that the juices will be retained. If water is placed in the pan the heat can never rise above 212°—the temperature of boiling water, whereas the temperature for baking meat should be nearer 300°. After the hardening of the outer surface has taken place, water may be added to keep the meat moist and supply liquid for frequent basting. The water will also serve to reduce the heat after the first step is taken.

The baking-pan should be raised above the - surface of the bottom of the oven, because no heat is required there. If the dish is not provided with legs or supports to so raise it, a tin pie-plate or inverted pan may be used for this purpose. It also serves to keep the flour and fat from burning.

As the baking proceeds, the meat is to be well basted every ten or fifteen minutes. A box, the height of the bottom of the oven, from the floor, is very useful for sliding the pan out upon. While this is being done, the opening of the oven doors allows the smoky odors to escape. If allowed to remain in the oven, they taint the cooking food with the pronounced baking odor so objectionable to a refined palate.

After each basting the meat is to be dredged with flour, salt, and pepper. Salt has the effect of drawing .out the juices from meat, but as these mix with the flour, a hard paste is formed over the entire surface of the meat, which keeps them in. As the meat is placed in the pan with the skin side down and the juices do not escape through it, there is no loss, as there would be if the meat were reversed. As the process nears completion the meat is turned over, without the use of a fork, for the final browning.

LESSON RECIPES FOR BAKING

BAKED SALT MACKEREL

Soak mackerel overnight, boil in water enough to cover, five or ten minutes; pour off water, put mackerel in pan, pour over it 1 cupful of sweet cream or rich milk, add a few lumps of butter, a little pepper, put in oven, and bake till brown.

BAKED FISH

Have your fish dressed for baking, then make a stuffing of bread crumbs; 1 teaspoonfui of sweet marjoram; 1 1/2 teaspoonfuls salt; 1 slice of fat salt pork, chopped fine; pepper, and piece of butter size of large egg; 1 small onion. Mix this well together and stuff the fish. Either sew the fish together or sew a piece of cloth over the opening; place in the pan and lay slices of salt pork on the fish. Bake one hour.



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