Really great interviews. Great subject! Thank you.
Regarding Len’s commentary. The internal temperature of a loaf when it is fully baked is in the range of 200F (93.3C). It can be plus a few degrees but not much more than that. Thus, as the microwave boils water — 212F (100C) — there is plenty of heat to bake a loaf.
I don’t own a microwave but have been thinking of getting one and I must say that Ken’s bread baking experiment is pushing me to get one sooner than later. The point that I take away from Ken’s experiment is that with essentially no fiddling he baked a credible loaf.
I think that question, does a microwave bread equate exactly with a gas, electric, or wood fired bread is a question that is constrained from a viewpoint in which there is one right approach to bread. I think we need to let go and ask not whether a microwave bread is “as good as” or “the same as” in flavor, crust, and crumb than a loaf baked in a bath of hot air but rather, can we transform bread dough in a microwave into something wonderful. I think it is pretty clear from Ken’s comments that that is more of the direction of his experimenting.
I think that his mention of the Summer weather is also important to thinking about this technology. I would pair that with the busy person who wants fresh bread for dinner, has made the dough, but ran out of time bake in a hot air oven. I am a firm believer in a catholic aesthetic and in unfreezing what I see as an often frozen culinary culture.
As for having to toast a bread before eating it, that isn ‘t outside of our culinary culture. We toast what we in the US refer to as “English muffins” and crumpets prior to eating them — always. I will also confess to having baked many loaves of bread that were sticky on the inside when I needed it the crumb not to be and so I have resorted to toasting very fresh (too fresh) loaves in order to render them palatable. If a microwave bread might need toasting, like a crumpet, I don’t see that as a fault.
I look forward to a revisit of this subject in ten years time. Perhaps there will be more microwave experimenters by. Sounds like a great subject for a bread book.