You can’t beat waking up to the smell of fresh-baked bread. But how to get it without the rising, the knocking down, the second rise, and then the EARLY rise on your own part to stick the dough in the oven?
Yes yes, I’ve heard of bread machines. They seem a great idea, but aren’t they a little soulless? Load everything in the evening and it’s done in the morning – the washing machine school of cookery. Surely the tactile experience – getting your hands messy – is part of the satisfying process of baking your own bread.
From what I’ve seen, people tend to buy bread machines as a fad item, then shelve them to gather dust or ship them off to the charity store within a few months. So I’m not sure they are worth the investment.
Anyway. I thought we could try out our hand-me-down slow cooker as a bread machine. And via a bit of googling I discovered it’s been done before.
The favoured method is to place the dough within a coffee can – one of those bulk tins containing either beans or powder, widely available in North American but lesser-known elsewhere – then put the can inside the slow cooker, sitting up on an egg ring, with some water in the bowl of the slow cooker itself.
Coffee cans are hard to find in our climes, although a baby formula tin might do the trick. Without any such thing to hand, Lenny and I improvised with one of those vegetable steamers with petals that open like a flower, and some aluminium foil.
The foil part of it was all too much wasteful faffing around, and the results weren’t great – partly, I think, because we had too much mixture for our little cooker, and partly because the dough sat overnight before the cooker came on automatically in the morning. I reckon it was too bubbly inside as a result. The flavour was not objectionable but it was more like cake than bread.
It was nice and crispy on the outside, though – in fact it had a similar crust to what I’ve seen produced by bread machines.
I think it was worth the experiment, and others might like to try it out. Meanwhile I’m eyeing off that bread machine in the secondhand store …