Using Baking Trays for Food Background

I am really inspired to create lots of textures and food background for photo sessions. You can read my post on using wooden background for food here.

I had a couple of old baking trays lying around which I tried so hard to scrub it clean, lining them all the time with parchment paper to avoid further stains. After using this effect now I don’t even bother scrubbing them and believe me after this DIY the more you use the baking trays the more rustic and textured it will become. I don’t bother lining these trays anymore with a parchment paper and directly add toasts, food etc. to bake. Actually the thin layer of oil has kind of made it non stick.


Create your own Rustic looking Baking Tray Background 

You will Need

  • Old metal baking trays
  • Butter

Clean your baking trays. Smear a very thin layer of butter using the butter parchment paper. Thinner the layer the better it will be, as thicker layers will take more time to burn off and stain the tray. You can also use a layer of vegetable oil around the edges. This gives a more blackish texture. With butter you will achieve more of a rust, brownish look like I got in my trays below. Heat the oven to 220 degrees C. Bake the trays for around 30 mins placing it on top rack. Remove let it cool, wash it off, scrubbing slightly to get the desired texture. Leave out the edges, this will give a beautiful darker texture around the edges.

Add another thin layer of butter, bake it again for 30 mins. Repeat if you want to enhance the texture.

My image below shows how the texture changed after 1st instance of butter layer and second butter layer.

Also the more you use your trays the better textured it will become. I also sometimes just keep the empty tray in lower rack when baking something. Over time it will only get enhanced and start looking very rustic.

And just not stop with the trays, I did the same with couple of spoons and aluminium ramekins as well.

The below tray was really interesting, before I did this DIY to give it a rustic look, one day I had left the tray on lower rack with a silpat mat. The silpat mat was greasy and it left a beautiful pattern on the tray. I infact stopped using the tray thinking the stain will ruin further baking, but now after this DIY, I have started using it again for baking and the butter layer has kind of made it slighty non stick.

Now some of the food shots I tried after giving them the rustic look.

No Knead Whole Wheat Bread

I have tried no knead bread on several occasions, but was never very happy with the results. Most of the time they ended up being too chewy and little gummy. I recently baked them again. I have realized that secret to a good no knead bread is to not over hydrate the dough when mixing, it should still be dough like and manageable. Too much water and the next day it won’t even form a ball but rather fall flat. So while adding the final 200 ml water be watchful and don’t over hydrate, if it’s little dry better. As slow cold fermentation will anyways hydrate the bread fully.

I can never make a complete white bread using all purpose flour, so my breads are always whole wheat and all purpose in some ratio. This is super easy bread and very flavorful when compared to breads baked the same day.  An important equipment you need for this bread is a heavy cast iron dutch oven, sorry without the pan it is almost impossible to bake this bread, as this require high temperature and using a dutch pan will make the bread crisper on outside and soft in the inside.

I bought my dutch oven couple of years ago back from Prestige, unfortunately they have discontinued it now. However,  Amazon India ships lots of exported dutch oven, which are rather expensive.


No Knead Whole Wheat bread

Ingredients

4 cups of whole wheat flour or atta

2 cups of all purpose flour or maida

1 and half tsp of salt

1/2 tsp instant dry yeast or use active yeast, hydrating it in 1 tbsp water before adding to flour

2 cups + 1/2 cup of water


Mix together whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, salt and yeast together in a large bowl. Use a bowl large enough which will help rise the bread overnight. Slowly first add 2 cups of water, using a wooden spoon to hydrate all the flour. Add another 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water mixing rigorously with a wooden spoon. Take care not to over hydrate. The dough should still be manage and if required you can form a ball out of it.

Now is the most interesting part. Tightly cling the bowl with a plastic wrap. Leave it for a min of 12 – 18 hours on a counter. Next day the dough should be bubbly with a strong smell of yeast.

Use your counter or a large work area, dust it generously with flour. Tip the dough onto the counter. Using floured hands overlap the flour into 3-4 folds to form a ball. The dough will be very sticky, so use as much flour as you like. Also you can use wheat bran. Dust a parchment paper. Tip over the ball onto the paper. Cover loosely with a cling film and let it rise for around 1 hour or till double it’s size.  You can also use a kitchen towel underneath the parchment paper so that it is easy to move it around. Dust it with lots of flour or wheat bran before tipping it off into the dutch oven.

Preheat your oven to 225 degree C. Put your dutch oven in the oven to be preheated. When the dough is ready, slowly take out the hot dutch oven. Using your kitchen towel and holding it on the edges, carefully flip the bread in the heated dutch oven seam side up. Cover it with the lid and bake for approx 40 mins. Remove the lid and bake for another 10-15 mins till the crust is golden and sounds hollow on tapping. Remove from pan and let cool completely for atleast 2 hours before slicing. Best is to leave it on counter top uncovered for atleast 6 hours. This will dry out the bread, as it’s already very gummy. You can wrap it in paper and store in refrigerator for 2-3 days.


Perhaps it’s not one of the best looking bread, but very flavourful.

Best Brownies Ever

I know perhaps all brownie recipes are the best. But this is surely the best one I have ever baked. I halved the recipe so I don’t overload on sugar and fat, but a tiny bit of this brownie is heavenly. It is also super easy to make, using only one bowl and bake it away in another prepared pan. Don’t forget using a parchment paper when baking it, as this will be super sticky and will not come off the pan, however well you dust it or non stick it is.


Recipe – Brownies (Makes around 8 small squares)

70 gms unsalted butter
1 egg
40 gms good cocoa powder
30 gms of all purpose flour
120 gms of fine sugar
pinch of salt
Use your choice of extract – around 1/4 tsp – Vanilla, Almond or Peppermint

Method

1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees C. Line a small square baking tray with double parchment paper, on opposite sides.

2. In a double boiler, mix together cocoa powder,butter, sugar and salt. Heat gently till every thing is melted and smooth. Allow to cool slightly, should be warm to touch.

3. Add the egg, stirring quickly, till it gets emulsified in the butter cocoa mixture.

4. Add the extract and gently swirl in the flour till no white specs are seen.

5. Pour the mixture in the tray and tap it to smoother it out.

6. Bake for around 20 – 25 mins till a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs in the center. Don’t worry if this is not completely set, it will be slightly gooey when cooled. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for about an hour before slicing.