Definitions

Bain

Bain

Bain, Alexander, 1818-1903, Scottish philosopher and psychologist. He was educated at Marischal College, Aberdeen, where he later taught for three years. He taught one year (1845) at Anderson's Univ., Glasgow, but resigned to do free-lance work in London. There he joined a brilliant circle including George Grote and John Stuart Mill, with whom he already had close literary relationships. From 1860 to 1880 he held the chair of logic and English at the Univ. of Aberdeen, where he worked for educational reform. After his retirement he was twice elected lord rector of the university. His major contributions were in psychology. Remaining in the associationalist tradition of the Mills and sharing their distrust of metaphysics, he developed the current psychology in several directions. In discussing the will, he favored physiological over metaphysical explanations, pointing to reflexes as evidence that a form of will, independent of consciousness, inheres in a person's limbs. He sought to chart physiological correlates of mental states but refused to make any materialistic assumptions. Besides being the founder of the first psychological journal, Mind, in 1886, Bain was the author of The Senses and the Intellect (1855), The Emotions and the Will (1859), Mental and Moral Science (1868), Education as a Science (1879), James Mill (1882), John Stuart Mill (1882), and an autobiography (pub. posthumously with a bibliography of his works, 1904).

A bain-marie (also known as a water bath) is a French term for a piece of equipment used in science, industry, and cooking to heat materials gently and gradually to fixed temperatures, or to keep materials warm over a period of time.

Description

The bain-marie comes in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and types, but traditionally is a wide, cylindrical, usually metal container made of three or four basic parts: a handle, an outer (or lower) container that holds the working-liquid, an inner (or upper), smaller container that fits inside the outer one and which holds the material to be heated or cooked, and sometimes a base underneath. Under the outer container of the bain-marie (or built into its base) is a heat source.

Typically the inner container is immersed about halfway into the working-liquid

The smaller container, filled with the substance to be heated, fits inside the outer container, filled with the working-liquid (usually water), and the whole is heated at, or below, the base, causing the temperature of the materials in both containers to rise as needed. The insulating action of the water helps to keep contents of the inner pot from boiling or scorching.

When the working-liquid is water and the bain-marie is used at sea level, the maximum temperature of the material in the lower container will not exceed 100 degrees Celsius (the boiling point of water at sea level). Using different working-liquids (oils, salt solutions, etc.) in the lower container will result in different maximum temperatures.

Alternatives

A contemporary alternative to the traditional, liquid-filled bain-marie is the electric "dry-heat" bain-marie, heated by element below both pots. The dry-heat form of electric bains-marie often consumes less energy, requires little cleaning, and can be heated more quickly than traditional versions. They can also operate at higher temperatures, and are often much less expensive than their traditional counterparts.

Electric bains-marie can also be wet, using either hot water or vapor, or steam, in the heating process. The open, bath-type bain-marie heats via a small, hot-water tub (or "bath"), and the vapour-type bain-marie heats with scalding-hot steam.

Culinary applications

  • Cheesecake is often baked in a bain-marie to prevent the top from cracking in the center.
  • Custard may be cooked in a bain-marie to keep a crust from forming on the outside of the custard before the interior is fully cooked.
  • Classic warm sauces, such as Hollandaise and beurre blanc, requiring heat to emulsify the mixture but not enough to curdle or "split" the sauce, are often cooked using a bain-marie.
  • Some charcuterie such as terrines and pâtés are cooked in an "oven-type" bain-marie.
  • Thickening of condensed milk, such as in confection-making, is done easily in a bain-marie.
  • Controlled-temperature bains-marie can be used to heat frozen breast milk before feedings.
  • Bains-marie can be used in place of chafing dishes for keeping foods warm for long periods of time, where stovetops or hot plates are inconvenient or too powerful.

Terminology

Bains-marie were originally developed for use in the practice of alchemy, when alchemists needed a way to slowly and gently heat materials. In that early form of chemical science, it was believed by many that the best way to heat certain materials was to mimic the supposed natural processes, occurring in the earth's core, by which precious metals were germinated.

The device's invention is popularly attributed to Mary the Jewess, an ancient alchemist traditionally supposed to have been Miriam, a sister of Moses. The name comes from the medieval-Latin term balneum (or balineum) Mariae — literally, Mary's bath — from which the French bain de Marie, or bain-marie, is derived.

See also

References

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