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This is basically the first loaf I have baked and I am having difficulty knowing how I should tweak it. I have four directions to go with it and would like to know in which direction I should go, or if further tweaking might improve any of the forks below.

So I'm building 'bread' for a grilled cheese sandwich using macaroni (ditalini, actually) and cheese (mornay using 1/2s cheddar, colby-jack, using roux). I am making this bread using a springform pan, so it will also be a 'cake', if you will. So anyway, I need to keep the 'cake' from browning too much, stay moist, not get super crunchy, and turn into a solid, cohesive whole.

I have two primary forks from my first test.

Test #1: 325'f @ 45min

  • browned slightly on bottom and sides after 45 minutes; too loose, not browned
  • raised temp to 425'f applied egg wash to top and edges baked for fifteen; too loose, spotted brown (bottom unknown)
  • applied egg wash to spots, around edges again, baked for fifteen more; less, but still too loose, bottom far too crunchy

Final for Test #1: bottom too browned, too loose

Final: 45 min @ 350'F, applied egg wash, 15 min @ 425'F, applied egg wash, 15 min @ 425'F

Moving Forward

Fork #1: Adjusting temp:time

  • sub fork #2.1.a: lower, slower
  • sub fork #2.1.b: higher, faster

Fork #2: Adding more mornay using a corn starch slurry prior to baking

  • sub fork #2.2.a: mixing corn starch slurry mornay with mac 'n cheese
  • sub fork #2.2.b: mixing just bechamel and corn starch slurry with mac 'n cheese

So what direction would, at least in theory, provide a denser, more cohesive solid, and allow for some browning, though not complete? (The browning will be finished off by egg-wash and cast iron skillet)

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2 Answers 2

For cohesion, I'd personally try more flour when making the roux (or just more roux relative to the cheese & milk), but I'd also consider an alternative pasta.

Ditalini contributes nothing to structure on its own. If you were to use a longer pasta, even macaroni, there's a chance to it to interlock. I'd look for cavatappi, spiralini, or break up fusilli bucati into shorter lengths. (all are corkscrew tubes).

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The problem with the pasta you are suggesting, as opposed to ditalini, is one of texture. Since I was making a loaf, or cake, that would mimic (in its way) the bread of a grilled cheese sandwich, ditalini has a nice, regular texture whereas those would be more erratic in how they lie. I like your suggestion about roux, but would it be able to contribute to structure without contributing too much flavor? –  mfg Sep 18 '11 at 3:35
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@mfg : if you cook the roux to get rid of the raw flour flavor, but not so much that you develop deep colors, I don't find it has that strong of a flavor, but your taste may vary. As for the regular texture ... the only other solution I have is to use something that's more flexible, which would be a long-strand non-tube, but that's going to affect the chew and make it much heavier as there won't be thr trapped air pockets. You can try macaroni ... it'll lock together some, and still be fairly regular. –  Joe Sep 18 '11 at 14:35
    
I think I am going to try out your digestion in the same thickness but in a smaller volume, like 3-4" round at 1"high. –  mfg Sep 19 '11 at 10:54
    
I would also recommend a different pasta shape, I think the internal structure would be greatly improved by something longer or interconnected. –  Katey HW Sep 19 '11 at 15:53
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up vote 2 down vote accepted

The trick was in playing with the thickness and the application of the egg wash. On the second attempt, I kept the springform pan filles to only about 2-3 pasta in the layer (pushing awy from the loaf idea, more toward a flatbread).

After adding 2 1/2 cups mac 'n cheese to the springform (sprayed and dusted), I baked fifteen minutes at 425'f, pulled it, sprinkled herbs on top, poured 60 ml egg wash (1 egg: 1 T aq) mostly-evenly around, baked another fifteen minutes.

This resulted in a reliable flatbread crust for the grilled cheese sandwich that balances the quiche-y-ness with the pasta pretty well. Basically, the baked egg wash acts like a kind of cement. I followed up with another wash on bottom, flour, cornmeal and saute in canola on a cast iron skillet.

mac 'n cheese flatbread

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