blowtorch in the kitchen
I don't want to burn my apartment down, so please help me.
I just got a hardware store blowtorch (not one of those wimpy kitchen torches- a MANLY blowtorch that could easily take off my fingers. The instructions say it goes up to 3000 degrees but this is what the hardware guys recommended for kitchen use.) Can anyone give me some tips on how to use it safely and effectively?
Will the heat of the torch crack the ramekins or other kitchen dishes?
What surface should I put a dish on before using the torch?
How large/long a flame do I want?
How close to the surface of the dessert do I put the flame?
Anything else I should know?
the first blowtorch the guy gave me was nixed by the other hardware guys because it had a safety feature to extinguish if turned upside down or on its side. They got me a second one that didn't have that feature. Maybe this is the problem?
Also, the directions for the one I just bought says that the flame will extinguish if you tilt it too fast and that you should turn it over slowly, after the nozel has had a chance to heat up.
I have three different types of torches (mini & big propane and mini butane) and they all have a tendency to blow themselves out when blown perpendicular to a surface or into a 'corner.' I think it is just an airflow issue. Keeping the flame at a slight angle seems to work fine (just watch the flame to be sure it is directed only at the food, not the dish). You could also try reducing the flame a little bit; the more forceful the flame, the easier it is to blow itself out.
I think the most important thing you should know is that people have been using these propane torches (I assume that's what you have) for many years for all kinds of around-the-home tasks with, for the most part, no problems. I probably use mine an average of once a week for everything from odd plumbing jobs to freeing corroded fittings, and even from time to time for creme brulee.
So, to answer your questions . . You shouldn't have any problem with oven-safe dishes cracking (after all, you're not trying to heat the dish, and you'll find it takes very little time to brown the surface of a dessert. The dish will likely remain relatively cool. Put the dishes on a cookie sheet on top of your stove. Start with a small flame and, if it doesn't work fast enough for your liking, turn it up. You'll find something like a few inches to be about the right distance, but a little experimentation will fine tune it for you. Don't worry, be happy.