One of the unexpected benefits of becoming a prisoner in your own overly expensive flat is that you have time. Of course, as any ex or current students will know, this time is usually wasted trawling through Twitter or trying and failing to avoid "Incognito" mode. Occasionally, however, it is possible to put your newfound freedom to good use.
Proving that the internet is desperate for something to do that doesn’t require a SafeSearch, the web was rocked last week by a new bread recipe. In an unconventional twist, the technique dispenses with ovens, instead making use of everyone’s favourite lackadaisical kitchen gadget - the slow-cooker.
It didn’t take long for the idea to catch on. Within a few days, the seemingly simple recipe had been shared over 300,000 times on Facebook, with dozens expressing their excitement at the idea. So, in order to be of service to the online community/stave off impending boredom, we decided to put it to the test ourselves.
It should be noted that there are several caveats to our approach. For starters, thanks to a combination of a broken foot and bare supermarket shelves, our test kitchen lacked several of the original recipe’s key ingredients. “Whole-wheat flour”, for instance, was a pipe dream. The only yeast we could find was five months out of date. We didn’t have a stand mixer. Nonetheless, at Twisted we firmly believe that a good idea is adaptable, whatever the circumstances.
Another issue with the recipe and our eclectic ingredients list was mathematical. It quickly became clear that we only had enough raw materials for about half a loaf. Also, being British, we consider “cups” as something awarded to winning teams at Wembley, not tools for precisely measuring milk. Thus began the complicated process of converting everything into grams and millilitres, before halving it. Our relaxing, “hands-off” loaf had suddenly become a lot more mentally taxing.
As it turns out, even if you don't have most of the right ingredients in any of the right quantities, the original recipe is actually relatively straightforward. If, like us, you end up mixing your dough by hand, you may find that your loaf feels suspiciously dry and tacky. Keep working it, however, and you will eventually end up with something satisfyingly smooth and supple.
Check out this awesome Camembert Bread Tower Dip:
One thing that we would emphasise, especially if you haven’t got the gadgets to help you, is the need to knead. Mainly thanks to a lack of basic bread knowledge, we didn’t work our dough nearly enough, and actually ended up taking it out of the slow cooker after about five minutes due to a minor panic about inadequate hand action.
Another slight issue is identifying when your loaf has finished baking. In our case, despite having something theoretically half the size of the original recipe, our crust still felt suspiciously spongey after almost three hours on “High”. Once we’d taken it out, however, it became clear that we’d managed to perfectly cook the top and turn the bottom into a sort of carbonized bready biscuit.
Almost certainly thanks to insufficient kneading, our bread was texturally closer to a savoury fairy cake than a fluffy bloomer. Having said that, the flavour was undeniably delicious, even with our dodgy maths and initial scepticism. With a little more elbow grease and more faith in the timings provided with the proper recipe, it looks like you could actually end up with some pretty decent bread.
Given that in the almost 30,000 years since humans first started baking slow cookers have never been part of the process, you could be forgiven for questioning the value of this exercise. Trust us, we were with you. However, if you happen to have time on your hands and are up for an experiment, it turns out that slow cooker bread is a surprisingly viable option. It’s certainly a much more wholesome way to make use of the internet, compared to some alternatives.