Easy Bread Anywhere: "Baking" Bread in a Pressure-cooker





Introduction: Easy Bread Anywhere: "Baking" Bread in a Pressure-cooker

So it's lunchtime, and you feel like a sandwich. But you have no bread. And, you're in the middle of the woods in your van. Or you're cruising on your free yacht. In any case, you don't have a bread, or an oven. It happens more often than you'd think.

Or - maybe you'll find you like the "crumb" of this bread better than most homemade bread, (crumb is what bread nuts call the inside of the bread, as opposed to the crust). Steamed bread has a moist and springy crumb, much like a store-bought bread would be if it hadn't gone stale on the shelf.

Sure you could have brought some stale slices from the store - but nothing beats real, fresh bread you made yourself!

You need:

A stove of some sort

A pressure cooker

A "trivet" or "steamer" - that's the little rack in the middle - that will fit in the pressure-cooker

A small pot, that will fit inside the pressure cooker

A bread dough that will fit in your pot (mine is 1lb), ready for the final rise.

This is a baking technique instructable - there's plenty of info on making bread out there. If you're trying this at home and have a bread machine, you can cheat and make one on the dough cycle - that's what I did for this instructable, oh lazy me!

Step 1: Get the Dough in There

Stuff the dough into your pot. Go ahead, squash it down so it fits nice and tight. Be sure the pot is big enough, because we are going to let it rise one more time.

This dough, for the record, is a French bread dough with 75% white, 25% rye.

Step 2: Prepare Cooker for Steaming

Fill the pressure cooker with enough water to steam for 20 minutes. Usually between 1/2" to 3/4" of water in the bottom will do it.

Put the trivet in, then the bread pan. A camping pot-holder is very valuable for putting in a pot that is just barely small enough to fit through the opening.

Cover the top with the lid to keep the bread moist. There is no need to tighten it, as the bread will be rising for 30 minutes in here.

Step 3: Rise

Allow the bread to rise with the lid on (no heat!) for about 30 minutes, or however long your dough calls for the final rise.

Take a look. It will look dome-y. Time to bake! Uhh... steam.

Step 4: Steam the Bread for 20 Minutes at Pressure

The real business!

Seal your cooker lid on and crank up the heat. Once the cooker has reached full pressure, set your timer for 20 minutes, and turn it down to the minimum heat required to maintain full pressure.

"Loaf" about for 20 minutes. Um, sorry for that one. This requires almost no attention short of making sure it doesn't boil dry or drop from pressure.

If it stops hissing, run and remove it from heat immediately! It most likely has boiled dry, as this is the only risk during steaming. Pressure-cookers are aluminum and can melt! Cool it quickly by throwing it in a lake or running cold water over it.

When 20 minutes is up, remove it from heat and blow the steam by tilting the valve (or whatever your manual recommends). Please, don't burn yourself, and don't do this inside a vehicle as the volumes of steam released will cause a serious condensation problem.

Look, bread! The moist cooking and the rapid pressure drop at the end of cooking can cause a relatively large "oven spring" or increase in bread size.

Step 5: Slice and Eat!

The bread will feel kind of sticky on top at first, and might look a bit slimy. If you've ever made bagels, well, that's what it looks like.

Once it's cooled enough, it should come out of the pan and slice easy enough. Mine looks like a huge, funny bagel-muffin.

While a bit odd-looking on the outside, it looks just like any other bread inside and is just as tasty. Also, it has no crusts for those who dislike them.

I ate mine with a pressure-cooker broccoli sweet-potato stew and some oil and vinegar. Enjoy!

An amazing variety of things can be steamed in a pressure-cooker. I hope I've encouraged people to experiment with this often-ignored kitchen tool - I use mine every day!

A warning: This cooker is made of anodized aluminum, which is inert, harder than stainless, very easy to clean, and will not dissolve/leach into your food.
Many are made of ordinary, shiny metallic aluminum. These slowly dissolve into your food, particularly if it is acidic, destroying the pot and potentially your health... also things stick to them like mad. I would highly recommend getting an anodized aluminum cooker if you are thinking of purchasing a pressure cooker.

Step 6: Appears Like You Can Bake Any Kind of Bread!

Today I baked Sourdough for the first time. It was pretty good!

I cooked some in the oven and one in the pressure-cooker to see what would happen.

The oven breads were cooked at 450F for 10 min, then 425F for 15 more.
The pressure bread was cooked at pressure for 15 min.

Note the much more open crumb of the pressure bread (bottom slice). It really does allow for much better spring, though you sacrifice the crispy crust, which is, unfortunately, one of my favorite parts of the sourdough.

You can see it over there at the right of the second pic looking ugly. It tastes good though, it's the same bread without the crust.

Lost crust notwithstanding, it appears I can now bring sourdough with me in my van with nothing but a jar of starter, sack of flour and salt, and that is pretty good news to me!



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    the inner bread pan looks like a pan from my camping set. if you look you can see the "handle" along the side of the pan in the first picture

    I did this recipe to the letter twice. My bread fell once and the other time, it was extremely heavy and hard to eat. What am I doing wrong using this instructable?

    3 replies

    If you say fell completely he over-resin i agree with, buy it if came out with a hole int middle, lookimg more like a shallow bowl, then the dough was to wet.

    Here are some pics from the sourdough oven vs pressure cooker bake-off this afternoon. I made small breads so I could make bread-bowls out of them to eat stew. And then I ate the bowl!! (seen the tim hortons ad?) Turns out the bowls were too small to hold much stew, but I just had to refill mine a few times. First one - spot the pressure-cooked bread. It stands out with its ugly crust. Second pic - spot the pressure-cooked bread again. It has a quite superior crumb despite its rubbery crust, lots of pretty holes. I tried both slices lightly buttered and warmed. The oven bread has a far superior crunchy crust experience, but when comparing the crumbs alone, the pressure bread has a much lighter, springier bite. Flavor is practically identical for the crumb, but the crust of the pressure bread is nonexistant and tastes exactly like the crumb, while the crust of the oven bread tastes, well, crusty. Overall a successful first try at sourdough. For those interested in sourdough, these were made with "Carl's 1847 Sourdough Starter", available through the mail at the affordable cost of one buck US for shipping!


    By fell, do you mean the top caved in while baking? That sounds like it was over-risen by the time you put it in to bake. The "brick" sounds like the yeast was killed. These are usually dough problems, not baking ones; What bread recipe did you use? Do you have a photo? The bread should be a little denser than usual, not big and fluffy, but it should still be roughly within the range of store bread density. Interesting to hear, because I have baked several different types of bread this way and have had no failures - I figured it to be near fool-proof, but maybe there are more variables than I thought in this process. If your dough is fine, the only way I can see it going wrong is if you didn't let it rise enough in the pan in the pressure-cooker (or let it rise too much, I guess), and just cooked it as a lump of dough. It should be nicely risen before you bring it to pressure - then it should spring by about 20-30% while steaming. Compare the photos in step 1, step 3, and the photo of the whole "muffin loaf" on my cutting board in step 5, to get a feel for how the bread changes in size. It has not quite doubled in size between punching it down in the pan and starting the bake. Today I am trying to make a real sourdough from starter for the first time, baking one in my oven and one in my pressure-cooker. I'm excited to see how it works out.

    Interesting technique! Thanks fer doing this. These are like bagels w/o the final bake to set the surface and brown them.

    You don't need to sacrifice the crust here, either. I tried a slow-cooker bread that came out very soft, too, but I ran it under the oven broiler to get a bit of crust. True, never quite as nice a crust as in a hot, hot oven, but better than nothing. Thanks for sharing!

    where did you get that pot that fits neatly in your pressure cooker?

    Hi Rectifier,
    I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU - my children & myself are wheat & dairy free & homemade bread's much nicer & cheaper than buying but it's taken months to perfect it & it's never quite right & tends to be too dry instead of soft & springy. I haven't actually tried a piece yet but it is spongy & still bread like to look at. It's a much nicer loaf cooked this way, so thank you so much for this guidance :-)

    Very helpful, thankyou!

    Great Instructable! Your pressure cooker wouldn't happen to be a Fagor Pressure Magic? Mine looks very similar with the crossing arm but it's stainless steel.

    Incredible! Do you think that I could pop the finished PC loaf into the oven for a few minutes to crisp the crust? What temperature would you recommend? I wouldn't want to dry it out too much, but "oh" what a combination!

    2 replies

    Haven't tried it, but give it a shot and get back to me! I think it's a little unlikely to replicate a true 'crust' as the crust has already been cooked and toughened into a membrane of sorts. As far as I know, browning (and crisp, brown, tasty crusts) are caused by the Maillard browning reaction. This takes place at a temperature higher than reached in the pressure-cooker, I believe ~150C rather than the 120C in the pressure cooker. This reaction can only take place after the water has boiled out of the crust, which otherwise keeps it at 100C. So a short time in the oven is unlikely to result in a good crust. If I were to try, it would probably be in the toaster oven on "Broil" (or "toast?") and try to radiatively heat the crust hot enough to react without drying the rest of the bread out. Effectively you are toasting the outside of the bread (the color and flavour of toast also is a result of Maillard reactions)

    I wonder if you could do most of the cooking in the pressure cooker, but leave the last 15-24% for the regular oven to finish up. I am sure the energy savings would be significant.

    Supermarkets that want to have fresh high quality bread buy parbaked (partially baked) loaves from bakeries and do the final bit of cooking at the store. I believe this allows them to store the parbaked loaves frozen and ready for when they need them.

    Excellent instructable. Thanks for taking the time.

    "Oven spring" is a term for the burst of expansion a loaf has when first placed into an oven, due to the heat causing a final yeast fermentation.

    wonderful just got the same pressure cooker from wiseman dot com and googled around to see if you could bake bread with it. Could you tell us where you got the little pans/trivit or the sizes you used. I would think this would be great for beans on the bottom/ cornbread on the top. toast the cornbread in the bottom after dumping the beans. I use a woodgas XL camping stove for mine.

    This instructable got me interested in pressure cookers. Last week I received my 10 quart Fagor Splendid pressure cooker from Amazon.com (which, BTW, has only one setting, 15 psi -- cost me about 80 bucks). I've tried several things in it and been very pleased. I plan to try this idea in the near future. Thanks for posting this.

    Do you know what pressure your cooker reaches? Mine has two settings, but I'd assume I'd use the higher setting. Also, post the broccoli stew! Most of my broccoli plus pressure cooker experiments has yields very poor results.