Perfect, Except For the Main Point

March 11, 2009

As you may know, in preparation for our upcoming long-distance move, we’ve been using up as much fridge-door and pantry food as we can. Tonight’s supper, for example, consisted of a mound of kale the size of Kahoolawe and two sausages, each lightly dressed with 1/3 cup zucchini relish. (There would have been potato pancakes as well, but I forgot to make them.)

Cruising the web for ways to use up our flour the other day, I came across an intriguing claim that bread can be made in one’s rice cooker. Sure enough, several recipes surfaced. I was game.

My version of the recipe follows.

1.   In a small bowl, stir 1 tsp (5 ml) sugar into 3/4 cup (180 ml) slightly warmed, leftover potato-boiling water. Sprinkle 1 tsp (5 ml) yeast overtop. Let foam 5 minutes.

2.   In the rice cooker pot, stir together:

  • 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) flour
  • 1/2 tsp (1 metric smidgen) crushed fennel seed
  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) sugar
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) kosher salt.

3.   To the dry ingredients, add:

  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) milk
  • 1 generous Tbsp (40 ml) room-temperature unsalted butter
  • the yeasty water.

4. Mix everything together, knead the dough five minutes (add a few more spoonfuls of flour if it sticks too much to your fingers), cover the rice cooker with the lid and let rise one hour.

5. Punch down dough, let rise a second hour.

Everything went fine until this point, the point wherein one is to turn on the rice cooker, cook the bread for half an hour, flip it upside down, cook it another 30 minutes, flip it rightside up again, and give it one more half hour for good luck.

Well. Mine being a small, semi-cheap rice cooker with teflon insert and glass lid, the button stayed down for all of five minutes before it popped up again, and nothing could convince it to do otherwise.

Not that I was going to argue with an electric appliance. So my version of this recipe continued thus:

6. Place three metal cookie cutters in the bottom of the largest cooking pot. Fill pot partway with water and bring to a boil.

7. Place rice cooker, with lid, onto cookie cutters. Cover with largest cooking pot’s lid. Lower heat to medium-low. Pretend you’re making Boston Brown Bread, and let it simmer 45 minutes.

8. Remove pot lid and rice cooker lid. Pinch lips in disgust over pale appearance of bread. Turn on oven to 400°F (200°C).

9. Place unlidded rice cooker insert in hot oven for 30 minutes.

10. Remove bread from insert and let cool on a rack.

The verdict? Delicious! It was browned on top, wonderfully moist, and perfectly chewy. One of the best breads I’ve ever made.

Tonight, I’m going to assemble the ingredients for “Easy Bread”. I’ve seen two versions of this on Youtube, but I like the one in which the fellow sings “Easy Bread” to the tune of “Spiderman.” No accounting for taste… but I’ll let you know how it turns out.