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I just tried to bake some brown rice (350 degrees in a convection oven) in a white casserole dish that looks kind of like this. Anyway, after 30 minutes (what the recipe called for) it didn't work. The rice just sat there uncooked. So I dumped everything in a cast iron pot and got the job done. Why didn't the white dish work? The water was steaming when I took the dish out for the switch.

EDIT: the recipe called for 1 cup brown rice to 2.5 cups of water or low-sodium broth (I used water). This was same ratio on the rice's bag. Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes. I did not put a lid on it for the casserole dish or the iron skillet.

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What was the recipe? How much water to rice? Anything else in the pot? You definitely can bake rice. –  rfusca Jan 20 '12 at 19:38
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Were you using the lid, or covering it with something else? Did it fit tightly? The water was steaming but not boiling? Does your oven get to the right temperature? –  Jefromi Jan 20 '12 at 19:46
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Maybe the time wasn't enough, brown rice cooks slower than white. And I leave even white rice dishes for much longer than 30 min in the oven, usually over an hour. So changing the pot helped because 1) you cooked it longer, and 2) cast iron warms much sooner than white porcelain. This doesn't mean the white dish wouldn't have worked, you just would have had to wait. –  rumtscho Jan 20 '12 at 20:08

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This recipe should definitely work if you follow it correctly. Comparing your recipe to it might tell you what you did wrong. From the information you already gave, it seems certain that you didn't cook it long enough (as rumtscho said in the comments). Other things that could have been wrong:

  • oven not hot enough (your oven might not be as hot as you think)
  • water not hot enough when added to the rice (Alton Brown's recipe calls for it to be boiling; I don't know about yours)
  • too much water/too little rice
  • dish too small (if the water is deep, it won't heat as fast in the oven)
  • (thanks to Aaronnut, see the comments) non-metal casserole dishes take a while to heat up

Given your updates, well, basically I have no idea how that recipe would ever have worked. As you saw, the water wasn't even hot enough yet after half an hour. If you poured the water in boiling, it might have had a fighting chance, but it still would probably not have been long enough.

Cooking it uncovered is weird, too - it means that once it's hot, you'll start losing a lot of water to evaporation. The recipe on the bag likely has you cook it covered on the stove, so clearly you shouldn't be using the same amount of water with it uncovered.

As for the amount of water... 1:2.5 really sounds like too much water to me. I've seen some people online claiming that 1:2 is right for white rice, and brown rice needs more water, but in my experience that's a recipe for soggy, watery rice. (Edit: Of course I was basing that on covered rice; rumtscho rightly points out in the comments that for uncovered rice you'd need even more, since you lose some as I mentioned.)

So if I were you, I'd forget about the recipe you used, and try the one I linked to. Many people (including me) have had reliable success with it.

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+1 Ya, sounds like that was just a dumb recipe. –  rfusca Jan 21 '12 at 5:55
    
The correct ratio for uncovered rice is actually more than that, 1:3 to 1:3.5. Of course it loses water, but that's the point of it, you want your rice first to swell with the water and then lose the excess water through evaporation so it isn't soggy. However, it also requires long cooking/baking times. –  rumtscho Jan 21 '12 at 12:57
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This is already a very good answer so I'm not going to bother submitting another one, but one thing you left out is that this type of vessel has low conductivity and is going to take a much longer time than a metal pot just to get up to temperature in the first place. When baking with glass or Corningware you generally have to increase the cooking time. –  Aaronut Jan 21 '12 at 16:17

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