Bathless Baking: Spotted Dick in a CVap®

It may be a surprise to some but bathless baking is possible in CVap®. We recently proved this cooking process on perhaps the most snicker-inducing food in the English-speaking world, Spotted Dick.

The etymology of this curiously named dessert is a bit hazy. It stems from the Victorian Era. There are theories that the name of this steamed pudding refers to its similarity in appearance to a spotted dog (spotted = raisins or currants, dick = dog (or perhaps, dough). Whatever the origin, the name continues to amuse those who have failed to achieve a sufficient level of maturity. Probably to reduce bawdy jokes, one local council in the U.K. has renamed the dish “Spotted Richard.”

Unlike the puddings that most Americans are familiar with, the spotted dick is spongey and only slightly sweet. Most of its sweetness is from the raisins, currants, or other fruits it contains.

Behold our grand experiment in British baking. Traditionally it’s prepared by steaming on the stovetop. We wanted to test it with CVap bathless baking, a safer process that still delivers fantastic results. You can find the base recipe on We tweaked the ingredients a little, and of course, for gentle steaming in a CVap oven.

bathless baking


  • 150 grams of Dried Fruit (Traditionally, you would use currants, but we used a blend of cranberry, blueberry, apricot, and golden raisins.)
  • 250 ml of Water
  • 250 grams Self-Rising Whole Wheat Flour (If you cannot find it at your retailer, you can “fudge” it quite easily; see below for ratios.)
  • 80 grams Sugar
  • 1/8 Tsp Salt
  • 100 grams of Shredded Butter (Pop a stick in the freezer for more effortless shredding.)
  • Zest of One Lemon
  • 280 ml Whole Milk

How to Make a Self-Rising Whole Wheat Flour

  • 2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 Tbs Baking Powder
  • ½ Tsp Salt

             Blend well before using.

The Bathless Baking Process

bathless baking
  1. Preheat RTV/CHV-05 ovens to 200°F Vapor/200°F Air.
  2. Weigh out all the ingredients according to the recipe amounts.
  3. Place the dried fruit into an oven-safe container, cover with water, and place into the preheated oven to rehydrate for about 10-15 (or until the fruits look nice and plump).
  4. Remove from oven, drain, and set aside to cool.
  5. While fruit is rehydrating, place butter into the freezer to firm before grating. Use the largest grain size on the box grater.
  6. The original recipe calls for suet. Suet is the raw, hard fat of beef, lamb, or mutton, for those unfamiliar. It often has a little flour added to it as well. The recipe said that butter is a perfectly suitable substitute for equal replacement. As suet is hard to come by in Kentucky, we opted for butter.
  7. Mix the dry ingredients and add grated butter, fruits, and milk until combined.
  8. Transfer mix to pre-sprayed pans (we used ramekins and silicone mini-bundt pans).
  9. Cook time will be dependent on the size of pans used:
    1. Silicone Mini-Bunt Pans – approximately 30 minutes
    2. Ramekins – closer to an hour
  10. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before removing from the pan.

As mentioned before, spotted dick isn’t particularly sweet. To make it more of a proper dessert, they traditionally serve it with crème anglaise, a.k.a., English cream (or English vanilla custard).

bathless baking spotted dick

Bathless Baking Results

Preparing this dish the traditional way – steaming on the stovetop with extra bits and bobs- is inefficient and dangerous. Preparing it traditionally in a foodservice kitchen is particularly challenging. Creating this in a CVap oven is an excellent (and safer) way to bake this dish. Save yourself the time and trouble with CVap bathless baking.

All snickering aside, we thoroughly enjoyed our spotted dick. We made sure to accompany it with proper English tea, sipped with pinkies raised.


Guinness Brown Bread in CVap®

Guinness Brown Bread
Guinness Brown Bread

In a recent Winston blog, we prepared a full Irish breakfast. One of the key ingredients of that breakfast was Guinness Brown Bread. We thought this wonderful, dark bread deserved an entry of its own. We based it on a lovely recipe found on Good Food Ireland’s website.

This recipe takes a few liberties with the traditional Irish soda bread. One might think of brown bread as soda bread’s denser cousin. The original soda bread had just four ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk. That basic recipe stems from the 1830s when much of Ireland was facing a serious famine. For many poor families, there would have been meals that consisted of only this bread. It kept them alive.

Soda bread also had the advantage of not requiring an oven to bake. It could be cooked in iron pots, or even directly on a stone over the fire. Yeast would have been hard to come but, not to mention expensive. Rather than using yeast for leavening, soda bread uses the chemical reaction between the baking soda and the acid in the buttermilk to leaven the dough. This works well with the soft wheat grown in Ireland.

Brown Bread vs Soda Bread

Guinness Brown Bread shares the same roots as soda bread. The key difference is the flour used. Irish soda bread is slightly sweet, (think scones). It uses white flour, which gives it a milder flavor. It’s a perfect snack or accompaniment to a hot cup of tea or coffee. On the other hand, brown bread has a nutty flavor that comes from the combination of Irish wholemeal flour and oats. It should be sliced think, and enjoyed with a schmear of Irish butter.

As is the case with any standard recipe, the standard baking settings needed a bit of modification for the CVap® ovens. We also needed to tweak the ingredients just a bit, since some ingredients aren’t easy to come by here in the U.S.

Ingredients (for one loaf)

  • 600g Wholemeal Flour (we substituted Whole Wheat Flour)
  • 150g Plain Flour (we substituted All-Purpose Flour)
  • 75g Oatmeal
  • 2 and 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2-1/2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 40g Butter
  • 480ml Whole Milk
  • 200ml Black Treacle (we substituted Molasses)
  • ½ Pint Guinness® Draught Stout
Guinness Brown Bread
Guinness Brown Bread

The Process

Mix butter with the dry ingredients until the dough develops the consistency of breadcrumbs.

Add the milk, molasses, and the Guinness draught.

Mix until you reach a wet dough.

The Settings

Preheat CHV/RTV-05 oven

  • Vapor Cook– 200°F
  • Air Cook– 350°F
  • Cook Time – 1 Hour

Portion the dough into standard greased loaf pans. Garnish with a few oats.

Bake for approximately 45-50 minutes, or until done.

To speed the bake time, we portioned our dough into mini loaves. This shortened the bake time to about 25 minutes. We also prepared a batch of muffins, which only took about 20 minutes to cook thoroughly. To make this a perfect addition to the meal, we served the warm bread with Kerrygold Irish Butter.

The Extras

In case you’re curious, there is a difference between Irish butter and the butter we’re used to here in the U.S. It turns out, Irish cows live a pretty good life. They feed exclusively on the lush green grass of the Emerald Isle. As a result, the butter they produce is higher in nutrients like beta carotene and is a little higher in fat content. Although the fat is only slightly higher, it is a difference you can taste. In addition, that fat keeps the Irish butter-soft, so it’s much easier to spread without tearing the bread. We highly recommend that you splurge on Irish butter. It will make this dark bread that much more delicious.

Of course, the Guinness draught speaks for itself. It’s a wonderful, dark, creamy stout. We highly recommend it.

Guinness Brown Bread

King Cake is a Mardi Gras Tradition

king cake

Like so many of our favorite culinary treats, King Cakes hail from New Orleans. The tradition came with French immigrants. King Cakes first appeared in the Big Easy in the late 19th century.

The name “King Cake” refers to the Magi, the three kings of the Nativity story. As such the cakes usually enter the scene on Epiphany (January 6), the day on the Christian calendar when the Magi were introduced to the Christ child. Consequently, the cakes are enjoyed through Carnival, up until Mardi Gras, the day before Ash Wednesday.

Traditionally, a small baby figure is baked into the cake to signify the baby Jesus (although in our cake, we used a pink candy ball). The colors of the cake – purple, green, and gold, are quite symbolic. Purple signifies justice. Green symbolizes faith. Gold indicates power.

King Cakes are a staple of Mardi Gras parties. The lucky person who finds the baby Jesus in their slice becomes the king of the party and is obliged to purchase the cake for the next celebration.

With Lent approaching, we wanted to celebrate the season by showcasing the excellent baking capabilities of CVap ovens.

King Cake Settings:

  • Proof Program:  RTV705: Vapor 100°F/Air 103°F
  • Bake Program:  RTV705: Vapor 200°F/Air 350°F
king cake sliced

King Cake – The Process:

Although making the cake from scratch is completely fine, we took a shortcut and used a prepared white dough from Rich’s Products. They are individually quick frozen. However, we slacked them rapidly in the RTV with the Proof program.

  1. First, roll the dough roughly into a rectangular shape and slather with butter. Next, sprinkle with copious amounts of cinnamon sugar. Finally, stud with Amaretto plumped craisins and chopped pecans.
  2. Roll up the rectangle along the long side, pressing and pinching the seam to create a more seamless roll., If you’re going for a fully-traditional King Cake, don’t forget to add the baby Jesus (or trinket, or bean, or almond, or whatever suits you) before you completely seal it up. Critically, make sure that your guests are aware of the presence of this surprise inside the cake. You don’t want someone choking or chipping a tooth on an unexpected baby.
  3. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and shape into the traditional round ring, pinching the two ends together.
  4. Proof until doubled in size.
  5. Bake until internal temperature reaches a minimum of 185-190°F. We pulled ours out at 200°F. This took about 30-35 minutes.
  6. Allow cooling BEFORE decorating. Otherwise, the icing will melt off.
  7. Pour royal icing onto the cooled King Cake (if you need a quick refresher on icing, you’ll find an easy recipe in this blog).
  8. Sprinkle with colored sugars: purple, gold, and green.

The results were beautiful cakes worthy of the Carnival season. It was fit for a king! Joyeux mardi gras, y’all!

king cake
Cake and Coffee

Cooking in the Kitchen with a CVap® RTV Retherm Oven

Chef Sam shows what RTV Retherm Ovens can do.

School Menu Items in a Retherm Oven

Watch as Chef Sam cook a variety of menu items in a retherm oven. CVap RTV Retherm Ovens are versatile. This video features some of the more popular school menu items, such as pizza, breakfast corndogs, and tater gems. Chef Sam also offers tips to get the best results.

You’ll also see how CVap ovens can utilize a probe for highly accurate cooking. Both thin and thick-cut pork chops and other proteins can be prepared in the same oven, with consistent results throughout.

50 Shades of CVap


Have you ever had one of those experiences where your chance encounter far exceeded your expectation? The corporate chef of a chain restaurant asked me for a solution to increase the yield on their prime rib. Their average yield ranged from 75% to 82%. Increasing beef prices had them pretty concerned about profits. They were trying to avoid raising prices.

Pumping Up the Yield

The chef wanted to cook and hold the prime rib overnight because that created their lowest yield. While the chef seasoned the prime rib, I set our CVap® Cook and Hold Oven to 135°F Doneness, 7 Browning, High Yield ON (new CVap 135°F Vapor/210°F Air) and cook time of 5.5 hours. We loaded up the meat and left for the evening. The next morning we did the weigh-in. After a 5.5-hour cook and 11 hours holding, the pre-purged yield was 93.32%!

He invited The Boss to the cutting. After some delicate inspection, it was time to give it a try. “Wow, it’s almost too tender…wait I don’t think I meant to say that.” Needless to say, we had a good laugh.

increase yield on prime rib with cvap ovens

During our rather long meat-eating session, they talked about how they needed to find a way around water bathing, doming, and rotating cheesecakes in their convection oven. It was an operational headache. I was ready for dessert so I said, “let’s make some cheesecake.”

We baked two cheesecakes. One, as usual, was placed in their convection oven (water bathed, domed, and rotated). The other was baked in the CVap oven at 200°F Doneness, 0 Browning, Constant Cook ON (new CVap 200°F Vapor/200°F Air), and a three-hour cook time.

Testing CVap on Their Menu Favorites

The Cheesecake Challenge

The CVap cheesecake used no water bath, no doming, and did not need to be rotated. My guests described it as “very creamy; silky; a quarter taller; the crust is better; cuts cleaner.”

I expected them to be happy with the labor and operational savings, but my goal was not to create a better cheesecake for them. The convection oven cheesecake was great but was “drier on the tongue” and “a pain to make.”

Over the next few days we just got lost in the CVap oven. The chef prepped the items, and I set the oven. The days just flew by while we compared CVap to their current items.

cheesecake baked in CVap oven

Staged Steaks

(Setting: 135°F Doneness, 0 Browning, Constant Cook ON (new CVap 135°F Vapor/135°F Air) for one hour)

Time on their charbroiler: 2 minutes 45 seconds

steaks staged in cvap oven

Raw Steaks

(39°F from refrigerator)

Time on their charbroiler: 8 minutes (5 minutes and 15 seconds longer)

steaks cooked from raw with bullseye

Carrot Cake

(Setting: 170°F Doneness and 0 Browning, Constant Cook ON (new CVap 170°F Vapor/170°F Air) for one hour)

“You can taste the individual ingredients.”

carrot cake baked in cvap oven

Chocolate Cake

(Setting: 170°F Doneness and 0 Browning, Constant Cook ON (new CVap 170°F Vapor/170°F Air) for one hour)

“It’s just more like cake.”

chocolate cake baked in cvap oven


(Setting: 135°F Doneness and 5 Browning, High Yield ON (new CVap 135°F Vapor/175°F Air) for 5 ½ hours)

“You can cut it with a fork.”

How many shades of uses can you create with one oven – CVap?

increase yield tri-tip cooked in cvap oven

Chocolate Cake Smackdown: CVap Oven vs. Conventional Oven

flourless chocolate cake

When I was a kid, I remember making the most decadent, delicious, and rich flourless chocolate cake.  I helped my grandmother put ganache on the top, and sneaked a little off the top with my finger when she wasn’t looking. We always called that kind of sampling “quality control tasting.”

I still love this type of confection. I mean, who doesn’t like chocolate? For me, it’s a great go-to dessert for guests – similar to my grandmother’s – topped with a side of homemade whipped cream and fresh raspberries. And there’s the added bonus of it being a super quick and easy recipe. Plus it is gluten free.

Instead of just baking it in a traditional oven like grandma’s, I wanted to see what kind of results I would get baking it in a CVap® Cook and Hold Oven. So I devised a challenge for myself in order to compare the two.

raw ingredients

I made a double batch of the batter and placed equal amounts in individual, fluted removable-bottom tart pans. I set the CVap oven at 160°F Vapor/350°F Air (legacy 160°F +10 browning) and the conventional oven at 350°F.

CVap vs conventional chocolate cake

The Results

The results were very interesting! The cake in the CVap oven baked in 16 minutes. The cake in the conventional oven took almost 20 minutes. More importantly, when I had three adults conduct a blind taste test, they all preferred the cake baked in the CVap oven! Some of the comments about CVap flourless cake were that it “had a chocolatier taste,” “the texture was lighter and smoother,” and “the top exterior top was more eye appealing.

CVap vs conventional chocolate cake

I found that the conventional cake rose, and then dropped once out of the oven. This is a normal occurrence with flourless chocolate cakes. What I liked about the CVap version was that the top had a better texture and the cake did not drop, giving it better eye appeal. It certainly makes a good case for baking in a CVap Cook and Hold Oven.

And when you add the ganache…calling it icing on the cake doesn’t do it justice!

Yummy chocolate cake