Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Ricecooker Bread

So I bought a demibaguette from Whole Foods a while ago, and was cringing at the price. It was a dollar something, nearly two, for half a baguette! I also checked at Dominion, the local grocery store, and they charged something like $1.79 per baguette. Which seemed about normal, but of course I wasn't satisfied and decided to see if I could make my own bread.

Yeeaaahhhh, I'm having mixed feelings about that now.

I have no baking implements. No pans, no trays, no measuring cups. But I decided to try anyways, following this recipe for "Bread in a rice cooker."

I tried to gauge the amounts of water and milk according to the mL graduations on my Nalgene bottle, and used regular soup spoons as teaspoons and tablespoons.
Er, I may have put in too much milk, as the dough seemed more like mush than dough, but that's nothing that more flour won't fix! And I heard that the amount of flour you put in bread is not that important – it will differ according to the humidity of the atmosphere, often by several cups.

So it all seemed to go pretty well until I added in butter. It seemed like a ridiculous amount of butter. This is what the instructions said:

Add butter to the dough ball. It might be easier to cut the butter into small pieces. Also the butter should be soft and at room temperature. The butter will also help to grease the rice cooker bowl, so that the bread will not stick to the sides. Knead the butter into the ball until the butter is completely absorbed into the dough and has no lumps.

But the dough would just not accept the butter! I was left with half of the butter left in my hand, and the dough was SO buttery that it wouldn't even form a ball anymore – the sides were too greased to stick together into a ball. I ended up only using half the butter, saving the rest for my breakfast (two improvised crepes with strawberry jam : D) I think I stared for a good minute at my dough, which resembled brain more than it resembled a lump of dough, but undaunted, I put that sucker into the ricecooker, let it rise twice, and then started ricecookering baking it.

Now the recipe warned me that different rice cookers work differently, and that I'd have to watch it. It also suggested that you jam an eraser into the rice-cooker switch, because the rice-cooker would probably turn off once it reached the temperature at which rice is cooked, and bread requires a higher heat.. I didn't have an eraser, but I did have a heavy bottle of soy sauce that would do the trick though. Unfortunately, I probably shouldn't have listened to that tip. That bread burned. It was way more burnt than my peanut butter brownies.

Luckily, it only burnt on one side, and I learnt my lesson for the other side of the bread. The trick for my rice cooker is to hit the switch, let it turn itself to the 'keep warm' for a while, and then when it's cooled down too much, then you hit the switch again. Rather time-consuming, but as I'm supposed to keep an eye on the ricecooker anyways (for fear of burning down my suite by using a rice-cooker in a non-conventional way) it's not so bad. It tastes ok - it's certainly not the best bread I've ever tasted, or even made, but it was certainly edible, and pretty good with that Bleu D'Auvergne. I don't know if I'll try and perfect this method though– I think I might just get a loaf pan or baking sheet ,and try making bread the old-fashioned way : )

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