Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A large pan containing hot water in which smaller pans may be set to cook food slowly or to keep food warm.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. in cooking, a large pan containing hot water, into which other smaller pans are set in order to cook food slowly, or to keep food warm

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A vessel for holding hot water in which another vessel may be heated without scorching its contents; -- used for warming or preparing food or pharmaceutical preparations.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A vessel of any kind containing heated water, in which another vessel is placed in order to heat its contents gently, or with more regularity and evenness than if the heat were applied directly to the second vessel: used in some operations of cooking, manufacture, chemistry, etc. Also called water-bath.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a large pan that is filled with hot water; smaller pans containing food can be set in the larger pan to keep food warm or to cook food slowly

Etymologies

French, from Medieval Latin balneum Mariae, bath of Maria, probably after Maria, an early alchemist.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
French, from Medieval Latin balneum Mariae Maria’s bath (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Among the inventions attributed to her is the double boiler commonly known as a bain-marie.

    Archive 2008-08-01

  • A custard is made using milk, sugar, vanilla, and egg yolks; the mix is cooked in a bain-marie for a few minutes, but must remain thin enough to pour.

    In defense of Hank Johnson

  • I happen to be gifted in the art of cheesecakes, baking them in a bain-marie, or water bath, that helps to keep those flourless, cream-cheese-filled pies from cracking some of the timeovercooking is really what cracks them.

    Let Me Eat Cake

  • Custards are often cooked in a water bath, or bain-marie, to ensure that the temperature of the vessel theyre cooking in doesnt get hotter than 212F and the egg cooks gently.

    Ratio

  • A cow that's been recently cut up has the portions laid out in bain-marie that day.

    Archive 2009-06-01

  • I find this is a pretty high chocolate-to-cream ratio, so if you are unable to get all the chocolate to melt, you can place the bowl over a bain-marie and stir until the chocolate is completely melted.

    Archive 2009-02-01

  • Get hold of several bars of dark chocolate, and melt them gently in a bain-marie.

    Gordon Brown, Charlie Whelan and Me

  • Break an egg into each mold and poach them in a bain-marie.

    Archive 2006-12-01

  • One restaurant advised me they poached their eggs in water: what it turned out to be was that they did the above (greades a custard cup, added an egg) but then set the custard-cup assemblage in a bain-marie (of sorts).

    how to poach an egg, smitten kitchen-style | smitten kitchen

  • The bain-marie may allow a closer union of materials than mere grinding will, but direct heat is necessary to ensure quality.

    The Creation of Color in Eighteenth-Century Europe

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