Loaf to admit failure

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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 …

– Waz

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12 Responses to “Loaf to admit failure”

  • Jenny in Brooklyn

    Every time I try to make bread other than by hand “the long way” I get weird results. I had a bread machine that only produced bread 2/3 of the time. I tried the “No Knead Bread” that everyone was raving about — meh. I can’t imagine this would work for me even if I had a slow-cooker. Just my luck. But it was great to watch you two try. Thanks for the video!

  • Since I bought the Zojirushi breadmaker 7 months ago, I’ve NOT bought bread. Breadmakers aren’t just for making loaves, their dough function is where the merit is. I’ve had exceptional success using it to make dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls, savory bread, country bread etc. Don’t get the cheaper brands (such as Sunbeam), they simply do not knead dough properly resulting in poor textured bread. The bread I make tastes BETTER than most bread from bakeries, I’m not kidding you.

  • Even though I know experimenting is fun, I would prefere you to could cook the “normal” way again.
    Recipies would be much more interesting and sometimes the result might be better if you use the traditional way.


  • Nice idea using the slow cooker, the steam part of it is good, but it’s just too slow and there’s not enough heat to brown the top from the look of it.

    Wheatgerm and wheatbran adds a load of fibre can normally be found in the cereal aisle by the oats, I think ours is made by Katie Price.

    Wheatbran would definitely make it less cakey. 100g of wheatbran is 171% of your fibre RDA.

  • I will definitely be trying this. Great video, thanks!

  • I’m not surprised that the bread didn’t have much flavor since the recipe didn’t use any butter or salt.

  • Whoops, after watching it again I did see that you added salt.

    The method sounds very similar to baking bread in a rice cooker. The bread recipes for a rice cooker require you to flip the dough over halfway through baking in order to brown the top.

  • I think you’ll have more success with the “overnight” method if you cut the yeast in 1/2 and don’t “bloom” it in the water first. Once the dry yeast is mixed into the wet dough and left in the cooker overnight, it will have plenty of time to hydrate and rise your bread. That should give the bread better flavor.

  • hi you guys,

    First of all, I would like to say that it was a great video, but for some reason I can’t seem to get it to download onto my video ipod. Other than that I do hope you guys make more videos.

    P.S. keep up the good work!!

  • Hi Nick, I can’t explain that – the .mov file is compatible with all Apple devices and anything that plays QuickTime files. Try updating your iPod software via iTunes (or is your iPod full?).

  • I don’t know what [Waz’s other half, I don’t know how to spell it…] was going on about with measuring. I never measure my flour when I make bread, and it’s always at least half-way decent.

    Skip the egg next time, use demsecure’s yeast suggestion, and I’ll bet the bread is a lot better.

    Thanks for the wonderful videos.

  • Please, please, go and get this book. No breadmakers needed. No hard work and absolutely FANTASTIC bread.


    Your bread will come out looking like the picture on the cover.

    An update from Oz. Yesterday was 30deg in Sydney. Today there is the MOST incredible storm. Sirens, trees, the whole thing. Seems wrong in early September.

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