New oven to bake bread in space

A German start-up has prototyped a bread oven that operated in microgravity that may someday enable astronauts to enjoy fresh-baked goods in space. Currently, astronauts eat tortillas because they aren't crumbly and have a long shelf-life. (See the below photo of a rather unappetizing tortilla cheeseburger on the International Space Station.) From Space.com:

On Earth, bread needs to be baked at a temperature of about 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Once it’s done, the bakers remove it from the heated oven. But that would not be possible in space. Processes such as thermal convection, which helps to mix up air on Earth, don't work in space. If a bubble of air that hot were to escape from the oven in orbit, it could stay floating inside the station for quite a while, posing a serious health risk to the astronauts, (Bake In Space CEO Sebastian) Marcu said.

Marcu said the team has found a way to overcome this challenge.

"We basically put the baking product, the dough, inside the cold oven and start heating it up," he said. "Once it's almost done, we start cooling it down. But at that time, any product will start to get dry, and that's why we need to design the oven so that some water is added during the baking process."

The oven also needs to be able to operate with only 270 watts of power — about one-tenth the power used by conventional ovens on Earth. Marcu said the team hopes to have a prototype ready by the end of this year.

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DIY apple rose pastries

A simple but elegant dessert inspired by the new Beauty and the Beast movie. Read the rest

How to make a giant carrot-shaped carrot cake for Easter

Yolanda Gampp of the YouTube channel How To Cake It demonstrates how to make a giant carrot-shaped carrot cake that's perfect for Easter or just for a spring party.

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Glowing, UV-reactive Tron pie

Jessica Leigh Clark-Bojin, storied nerd piemaker, created this fluorescing Tron pie, doped with tonic water for extra UV-reacting goodness. Read the rest

Adjustable thickness rolling pin for perfect crusts and pasta

I bought this adjustable thickness rolling pin for my mother last year and she told me it is excellent. I just bought one for our home, too. It's a long wooden rolling pin with removable discs of different diameters so you can make dough 1/16, 1/6, 1/4, or 3/8-inch thick. Or don't use any rings and roll bareback. It's $16 on Amazon.

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Nesting bowls with spill-guards and spouts obviate funnels and reduce mess

Megan McArdle's annual kitchen gift guide hipped me to these POURfect Mixing Bowls ($45/6 bowls), which have spill-guards and spouts, and of which McArdle writes, "after you’ve sifted your dry ingredients, you can pour them straight into the mixer bowl without getting a cloud of flour everywhere. Or strain your fry oil into one, then easily pour it into a container for either storage and reuse, or disposal -- I don’t even know where my funnels are, because I haven’t used one in years." Read the rest

Father/son gingerbread Apple ][+

Nathan writes, "My son and I decided gingerbread houses were boring, so we built a gingerbread Apple II computer instead, including the interior with power supply, motherboard, and an expansion card." Read the rest

Star Trek Enterprise crashing, in gingerbread

Redditor justice recreated the crashing Enterprise from Star Trek Generations in gingerbread. Then Redditor nicholmikey promptly composited the sweet and spicy starship into the scene from the film, below. (via /r/pics)

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This massive holiday Gingerbread Castle is incredible (and edible)

This totally out-of-control gorgeous gingerbread castle is replete with elegant reclining peppermint bark reindeer and inlaid candy glass windows.

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Kickstarting awesomely nerdy pie-guides

All through 2016, Jessica Leigh Clark-Bojin (aka @ThePieous) has sent us a stream howtos for of amazing, artistic pies -- an HR Giger pie, a James Bond pie, and a Predator pie. Now she's kickstarting a set of pie templates to help you make perfect pop-culture pastry in your own kitchen. Read the rest

Check out this bloody, dismembered leg... cake.

Sweet-toothed cannibals rejoice! Yolanda Gampp's Halloween bloody buttercream and vanilla leg cake looks absolutely delicious.

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Poop emoji cookie cutter

Francesca4me has created arguably the best Poop Emoji Cookie Cutters on the market, and they come in four different sizes. They include depressions for the eyes and mouth that can be filled with white icing, and the thin lines they cut halfway into the cookie give them the most accurate-looking result. Read the rest

Make pizza at home? You want a baking steel

I like crispy, Neapolitan-style pizza. The single biggest improvement to my pizza and bread baking, in the last year, has been the addition of a baking steel.

Pizza should be crispy on the bottom, but chewey, with great hole structure just above, and poofy edge crust sporting a few charred bubbles! My pizza stone got me close, but I was never really getting restaurant quality pizza at home.

The trick to getting your crust that perfect, I found, wasn't just making great dough and rolling it out well. It is not even so much about an exact temperature, but a question of heat transference. Stone holds a lot of heat, and but steel conducts it far, far faster. A crispy bottomed, well risen crust is formed by the rapid vaporization of water in the dough. The faster and more evenly that happens, the better. You want bubbles and holes? You need a baking steel.

Clearly one should use a metal surface, rather than stone. The baking steel is a 15" x 15" square of seasoned carbon steel. It is 1/4" thick and weighs in at 15 lbs. You were wondering where it stored all that heat? In mass. My oven rack takes the weight just fine, and the plate heats up quickly.

Slide your pizza on to the steel with your peel, and bake for about 1/2 the time you would on a stone! The increased heat transfer cooks the pizza much quicker than on a stone! I find the crust comes out perfectly in about 4 1/2 minutes, I used to bake at 500F for about 8-9 minutes. Read the rest

Delicious Madagascar hissing cockroach cake

Artist and baker Katherine Dey made this creepy-as-hell but probably delicious cake that looks like a Madagascar hissing cockroach. Its innards oozes with Boston cream filling. Dey made a video how-to, below. Just make sure you clean up the crumbs or else the real roaches will come and then who knows what could happen if they realize what you just ate.

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Amazing beehive cake!

Christine McConnell baked this magnificent "Milk & Honey Cake!" Read the rest

Tessellated Escher cookies

In the Boing Boing Flickr Pool the fractal-obsessed Fdecomite posts the latest iteration in a series of experiments with tessellated, Escher cookie-cutters. Bake-time expansion creates irregularities that lead to a chewy (literally) series of interlock-imperfections, which give old MC's classic a bio-organic air that rather invigorates it.

You can 3D print interlocking lizard cutters with a free model from Thingiverse. Fdecomite, if you're reading this, please post in the comments with a link to the cookie cutters you used here!

Update: From the comments, Fdecomite writes, "Hi, those are cookie cutters I made from aluminium foil.I also made some 3D printed Escher cookie cutters you can find in my Shapeways shop.

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Time to start coveting vintage Pyrex

Pyrex is supposed to be tough stuff, capable of withstanding extreme temperature changes, like a trip from the freezer to the oven. And that was true with old Pyrex, made from thermal-stress resistant borosilicate glass. But starting in 1994, Corning began licensing the name Pyrex to other manufacturers, which, today, make Pyrex brand cookware with a different chemical formulation—soda lime silicate glass. A report in the Bulletin of the American Ceramic Society says the new glass doesn't have the heat-protection powers of the old stuff. So why use it? Apparently, the manufacturers say soda lime silicate glass provides better protection against breaking when dropped. The report didn't test that, but this could just be an example of chemical trade-offs. Listen to Scientific American's podcast about this news. Or read the full report. (Via Christopher Mims) Read the rest

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