Baking bread in a rice cooker isn't ideal. They can't produce a nice hard crust, and the texture of the bread can have a slightly spongy texture to it. To quote the New York Times, "Cooking foods other than rice in a rice cooker is like baking a layer cake in an Easy-Bake oven: best approached with patience, curiosity and something to snack on in the meantime."
When I was in college, the only appliances allowed in the dorm rooms were microwaves and auto-shut off appliances like rice cookers. Rice cookers might seem unifunctional. They cook rice. With a bit of deduction, it becomes obvious that they can cook other things too. So, I started getting more demanding with my rice cooker, making spaghetti, ramen, eggs, steamed vegetables and even fish. Recently, I've made some amazingly fresh yogurt in a rice cooker.
Before I was brave enough to test the no-knead method of cooking bread, I first started with a tried-and-true bread-in-a-rice-cooker recipe. I spiced it up with some diced jalapenos and within a few hours, I had a soft pillow of jalapeno bread, which my sister immediately devoured.
No-knead bread turned out surprisingly well, and it may become my preferred method for throwing together some fresh bread when life gets too hectic. Though the bread doesn't have the crust you'd get in an oven, this bread has several advantages over other baking methods. It has only four ingredients - flour, water, yeast and salt. Also, you'll only need to wash ONE vessel - the rice cooker. No other mixing bowls or floured surfaces. You throw everything into the rice cooker, let it rise. Punch and shape. Let it rise. Then bake.
No-Knead Bread Recipe
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast or 1/4 cup sourdough starter
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups water (or whey)
Combine all the dry ingredients in the rice cooker and pour in 1 1/2 cups of water. Stir with to combine into a fairly wet dough. Let it rise in an unplugged rice cooker overnight for 12-18 hours. The longer you let it sit, the more flavor it develops. Don't go too long or the yeast will break down and die.
The dough is ready when the surface is dotted with bubbles.
Dust some flour on top of the dough and flour your hands. Fold it over onto itself once of twice. Then kind of tuck the dough under itself to form a round loaf. Let it rise for about 2 hours.
Press the cook button. When it goes off and switches to warm, lift the bread up and gently invert or flip it over. Press the cook button. I flipped twice to fully cook my bread. Rice cooker can be a bit finicky with their auto-shut off feature. It automatically switches to the warm setting when the temperature reaches 212 degrees F. I just pressed the cook button whenever I walked by the rice cooker and noticed it had switched back to warm. You'll know it's ready when the bread is lightly browned on both sides. All rice cookers vary. Mine took two hours.
To get a better crust, you can finish the loaf off in the oven at 450 degrees F for 10-15 minutes. Although if you have an oven, it begs the question why use a rice cooker to bake?
This post was originally posted on Chris in South Korea as a guest post by me.