Sourdough Bread in a Rice Cooker

Preliminary considerations

  • The idea of cooking bread in a rice cooker has been popularised by the manga Yakitate!! Japan. At least as far as I know. – There are many more things made in rice cookers nowadays and I am not very much into manga.

  • In creating the recipe, I oriented myself on the knead-free bread (Bittman-2006, Sullivan-Bread) and the sourdough things in Katz-2011. I further informed myself with the chapter on bread in Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking. However, the parameters for my bread are completely different: whole-wheat flour and a low baking temperature. I am not sure whether one can produce a really well-structured bread under these conditions. Finding a way will require a lot more experimentation. The current results are very much acceptable, though.

  • My recipe for sourdough is from Katz-2011 and extremely hassle-free and simple. You can find dozens of other recipes on the web. Probably all of them will work for this.

  • Most sources call for iodine-free salt. In my experience, iodine doesn't influence the rising, but I don't know if it has other effects on the dear microbes.

  • If you want to eat the bread on a specific day, you have to start preparing it on the day before.

  • I am using the quite primitive Tristar RK-6111 rice cooker. You might have to adjust the quantities and especially the baking procedure to your model.

Ingredients for a 1 liter rice cooker

  • ca. 150 ml sourdough
  • 300 ml water
  • 225 g whole-wheat flour for the starter/sponge
  • 225 g whole-wheat flour for the final dough
  • 1.5 tsp salt

Preparation

  1. Stir sourdough, flour for the starter and water together in the rice cooker's bowl/pot. This should have the consistency of a thick pancake batter.
  2. Let ferment for 8 to 24 hours. It should bubble well after this.
  3. Stir and knead in the other flour and the salt, so that everything is evenly mixed. The dough should be too thick to effectively stir it with a spoon, but you shouldn't be able to knead it into a non-sticky state. I. e., it should be quite a bit stickier than a normal bread dough.
  4. Let it ferment further for around ten hours. It should rise up to just under the lid.
  5. Put the rice cooker pot into the rice cooker and put the lid on. Cover the lid with aluminium foil if it is made from glass. Cover the covered lid with something isolating. An old jumper, for instance.
  6. Switch on the rice cooker. Switch it on again after ten minutes. Switch it on after another ten minutes. Switch it on after twenty minutes. A timer with a bell helps very much with this. Here is the heating cycle:

      switch on auto-switchoff
              | |
              v v
              +-+    +-+    +-+        +-+      
              | |    | |    | |        | |      
              + +----+ +----+ +--------+ +--------+
              10 min 10 min 20 min     20 min
    
  7. Turn the bread around and repeat the heating procedure.

Notes

  • The first hot slice of the freshly-baked bread tastes very good with cold-pressed rapeseed oil and flaky sea salt.

  • Instead of sourdough it might be possible to use a quarter teaspoon dried yeast. Not tested.

  • Instead of whole-wheat flour you could use lighter wheat flour, but you would have to reduce the amount of water.

  • The bread keeps forever in a paper or linen bag, but it gets harder and harder.

  • If you accidentally have put in too much water, you can make sourdough pancakes instead of bread.

  • Currently I'm not developing this recipe, because I bought a second-hand bread machine. The higher baking temperature allows for roasting vegetables and baking breads with lots of structure-destroying stuff thrown into the dough. Very useful for using up all sorts of ingredients.