Hi Bold Bakers!
What is a Bain Marie? When baking or cooking you will often encounter this term. Some of you may know what it is but will have never used it. Some of you may have made one, but do not know the variety of things it can be used for.
So what is a Bain Marie? (pronounced ban mah-REE)? Well, it is just a French technical cooking term for a hot water bath (aka Mary’s bath). It is used for cooking delicate foods, over low temperatures, by using the steam the Bain Marie creates. This is utilized to make temperamental sauces like Hollandaise and egg based custards like Creme Anglaise. A Bain Marie is also a great way to reheat things while keeping the integrity of the texture; for example, creamy soups and mashed potato.
This is one of my favorite ways to gently melt things (such as butter) when needed, or for melting chocolate to be added to other things. It is also crucial when tempering chocolate, as you can control the heat carefully.
How to make a Bain Marie?
A Bain Marie is very easy to put together. All you need is a small saucepan with high sides, and a large heat proof bowl to put into it that covers the top of the saucepan. My favorite for this is a large clear Pyrex bowl.
Place your saucepan on the stove over a medium heat, followed by about 4 inches of water. Then, add in your heat proof bowl. Be careful, as you don’t want the simmering water in your saucepan to touch the bottom of the bowl.
You want to make sure your bowl fits snugly over the saucepan, so the steam is trapped beneath it. When melting chocolate, you don’t want steam to come out from the sides of the bowl, as the moisture can make your chocolate seize, which is hard to fix.
Heat the water to a simmer, then add the ingredients you need into the bowl to be melted, cooked or re heated. This is such a useful make-shift kitchen tool and one of my favorite alternatives to a microwave.
For oven baked custards you will use a large roasting dish, and add hot water to come to about 3/4 way up the dishes/ramekins. This is best done when the roasting dish is already in the oven. This ensures a gentle baking of the custard. This technique is also used for terrines , and Pâté, or any food which requires gentle cooking.
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