22 January 2012 | Isla Isabela
While out at Isla Isabel Bonnie decided to try her hand at making some bread in our pressure cooker. Other cruisers have done this and have raved about it. You use the pressure cooker as a little oven so you do not put any liquids in it when you bake the bread. By using the pressure cooker you do not need to turn on the oven which produces a lot of heat and makes the cabin extremely warm when it is 80 degrees out. Bonnie and I have attempted to make yeast breads before but have never had much luck in getting the bread to rise. When it came time to prepare the yeast Bonnie swore she read that for this recipe the water you add to the yeast is supposed to be 80 degrees. The package said 110 degrees but I was not going to argue with her since I had not read the recipe. We did not have a proper thermometer to check the water temperature so we decided to use the one in our fridge. We put it in the water and watched as it filled completely with water. That did not work so we grabbed the oral thermometer from our first aid kit and used it. It worked well and we were able to get the water to the temperature we wanted. I went up on deck and let Bonnie finish mixing up the dough.
After fifteen minutes or so I came back down into the cabin and watched aghast as my dear wife took the almost completed dough she had been making and unceremoniously dumped it into our garbage can. I could not believe what I was seeing. I was looking forward to fresh warm bread with butter and jam for lunch all morning and all of a sudden there it went, plop right into the garbage. I screamed “What are you doing?” and she calmly told me the recipe was not going to work the yeast was not rising and the dough would not stick together. Well, I was not going to let a little thing like the dough not sticking together keep me from having my fresh bread for lunch so I promptly grabbed the dough and rescued it from the garbage can. After wiping some carrot peels off of it I inspected the dough and decided I could rescue it. I started kneading it to bring some life back into it and in a short while the dough was holding together very well. The directions said after kneading let it sit for 15 minutes and allow the bread to rise so we left it sitting on the table in the warmth of the cabin. After the time was up it had not risen much but I still had hope. I kneaded it for another 7 minutes as per instructions and we put it in the pressure cooker to bake. As it was baking the smell of fresh bread wafted through the boat and my mouth watered in anticipation. When the time was up we checked on the bread. We had expected it to raise some while baking but unfortunately it had not. We took it out of the pan and let it cool on a rack. I did not care if it had not risen I was going to eat it anyway. We cut off a few slices, slathered on some butter and jam and had our first bites. It was extremely dense and very chewy but I thought it tasted good. Bonnie on the other hand had a different opinion of it.
I think Bonnie has given up on making bread in the pressure cooker but I am not willing to give up yet. Anyone out there have any tips for me on how to make the yeast work in yeast bread. If so I would like to hear from you.
ps The picture is of us on a spinnaker run into Matanchen Bay at San Blas.