Friday, June 25, 2010

Return to the Baby George Rotisserie

I've been talking about cake on this blog since April 2008. Since then, I think I've made it clear that I'm not very good at research, design, construction, baking, or blogging. But I'm always making progress, no matter how slight or how slow!

There's so much information out there. I just get bothered when I realize that I could have theoretically avoided pitfalls years ago with only a modicum of effort. And this happens often! I could have saved myself a lot of trouble if I had just seen the following site when I began.

Baumkuchen USA is the mail-order business of some dude named Klaus in Piqua, Ohio. He ships baumkuchen that he bakes himself "in a custom built rotisserie." But look at the pictures on his site:

That is clearly a Ronco Showtime Rotisserie! I have no idea what customizations there are in his machine (if any), but it looks like he's baking baumkuchen in a perfectly normal rotisserie. I think this means I could have potentially been baking baumkuchen since Cake Weekend in December 2008.

As always, I'm making up for lost time. I gave the George Foreman rotisserie a thorough cleaning, inside and out, then pulled off some spikes on the spit itself to make it more cake-friendly. More to follow! Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Šakotis update

That video I posted yesterday was a little confusing to me. I couldn't figure out why the chefs were spinning the cake so fast! Well, now I have my answer. As more layers are added, the baker spins the cake faster, causing flecks of batter to fly off and form peaks. Wow.

I'm not going to lie: compared to baumkuchen, šakotis seems more challenging, more impressive, and more fun to bake. It all adds to the respect I have for the people who made that giant šakotis.

Also, if you look at the pictures in the above link, you can clearly see electric heating elements! Good to know.

Amazing thing

Remember when I posted a link to that giant šakotis? I've located a Russian news story on it!. At the moment I'm just admiring the video, but I promise I'll have a translation later today.

Looking at the size of the fires that are used to bake these spitcakes makes me realize just how badly I underestimated the amount of fuel I needed for my most recent test. Hmmmm...

(Skip to 41 seconds into the video if you just want to see the cake.)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cake machine heating elements

I still want to build a cake machine, it's true. The major impetus to actually doing so is that I don't know the best way to provide heat. My options are electric, gas, and wood. I wish I could consult some heating experts, but I don't know any. I tried wandering into a grill-and-fireplace supply store this afternoon, but the clerks were not helpful at all. Tragisch.

Electric heating has been recommended by some people. My small-scale tests with electric heaters suggested that they can probably get a full-size oven up to the operating temperature range. Unfortunately, I have no idea what to do from here. There are so many kinds of electric heaters and I don't know where to get ones that are the appropriate size and shape for my rather specific application! Some of the Schlee GmbH machines use infrared bulbs, so I think I would do likewise. But I don't know exactly what I'm looking for in a bulb, so I could end up throwing my money away.

Gas is quicker to start than electric heating. I could stop it and restart it when I need to open the oven and apply batter. But I'm more likely to blow myself up. The Schlee machines that don't use electric use something called "infrared gas heating" and I can't find any good resources on this. There are plenty of resources on how to make pipe burners that I could use, but again, I run the risk of blowing myself up.

Wood fires are the traditional heat source for baumkuchen. But I'm worried that it might compromise the taste! I do not know if this is a valid concern. This is probably also a lot easier to get started with now, and I could eventually graduate to a gas or electric heater later.

Now, onto the issue of getting a metal drum for my oven!