I have no trouble preparing the seitan dough, or at least, that is what troubles me the least and can be fixed easily. However, I can't get the texture right. I don't use yeast, just vital wheat gluten and flavor adders.
First I tried with the simmering method. I put a broth to a boil and dropped in small loafs of seitan. As they cooked, they grew bigger and bigger, as they absorbed water. The loafs grew a ridiculous amount, and I was consequently left with loafs made of water and seitan, in that order.
I thought maybe water was the problem, so I tried instead of simmering it, baking it; like some online recipes indicate. I made a seitan tube and wrapped it (rather mediocrely) in aluminium foil and put in the oven. I had preheated the oven to 190 °C. The recipe I used instructed to bake the seitan for 90 minutes, and so I tried. However, about 60 minutes into the cooking, my loaf exploded in the oven (the wrap wasn't strong enough, I recon, although it was a few layers thick). To my surprise, the seitan already had a thick hard crust, and it was quite inedible to my taste.
What recommendations do you have for me? Is there something I have done wrong in each of my attempts? (Is blaming the great growth of my seitan on water wrong, on the first method I tried?) And finally, I am left to wonder: is it really necessary to precook seitan? (Why?)
Thanks a lot chefs! I know practice makes perfect but I'd rather quit wasting ingredients until my ways are right.