Making bread in a toaster oven
I live in Japan and unfortunately, my apartment does not have a regular sized oven. I do have a fairly large toaster oven with adjustable temperature (it's large enough to fit 9 cookies on a sheet, if that helps).
I would love to try my hand at bread making - I've never tried it and reeeeally love bread, so...
But I'm afraid using a toaster oven may screw things up. Any recommendations/recipes for a first-timer that you think would work in a toaster oven?
Never tried it, but if I did, I think I would consider:
a. The Lahey no knead bread method of preheating an oven safe vessel (in this case probably a small Pyrex) for a small loaf Or....
b. The 'Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day' (ABin5) where you could keep ready to use dough in the refrigerator and use small portions of it to make rolls when needed.
Yes, I did this quite a bit in college.
Obviously you'll have to make smaller loaves of bread, but other than that the only thing you have to adjust for is your toaster oven. Because unlike a regular oven, it does not keep it's temperature at a constant as consistently as a regular oven. So you will need to experiment with the idiosyncrasies of your toaster oven and in the beginning you'll probably end up with a few loaves of overcooked, undercooked or burned and raw in the middle bread, but once you get the hang of it, it's a snap.
Good luck and enjoy.
If you aren't familiar with making bread, I think my first step would be focaccia bread. This is almost designed to be the perfect toaster oven bread. Another great option is rolls using your favorite bread formulas. After playing with these two breads, you will understand how your oven is cooking a yeasted product and be ready for some cute, smaller bread forms.
I think as your oven holds the temperature you will be fine. One year my mom made an entire Thanksgiving dinner using only our toaster oven!
breadsticks, rolls and flat loaves such as focaccia should all be fine in a toaster oven. I noticed that the actual temperature of the oven is quite different from the number indicated on the thermostat dial. You may wish to invest a few $$ in an oven thermometer.
When I try to bake bread in my toaster oven, the top of the bread always burns due to the heating elements being so close. Baking bread in a dutch oven, inside the toaster oven, prevents this.
(-: I wonder if Japanecdote is still in the country. Well, for the sake of reference, I'd like to suggest some alternatives.
1. English muffins can be cooked in frying pan over low heat -- cast iron is best, but any heavy pan will work. You could even try doing them on a "teppan" if you have one.
2. I make up a recipe of pita bread, and grill them over a charcoal fire outside during the summer. They don't puff like pitas, but they are marvellous.
3. Things tend to burn in Japanese toaster ovens. You might try making a tent of aluminum foil, and see if that helps.
4. Many communities have public kitchens, and some of those are equipped with ovens. My teaching group borrows a community kitchen in February for a "bake day" -- there are something like seven convection ovens, and people make all sorts of cookies and breads and pitas, and can take them home and freeze them.
5. If you really love home-baked bread (or mostly whole-wheat bread), invest in a Zojirushi breadmaker. I've had two that really did a great job kneading the dough, but recently I bought a cheapie Siroca, and my bread just hasn't had the right loft -- it's stickier and harder to work with, too. I did the math, and something like two loaves a week would repay my investment within two years.
I have a small cheap Black and Decker toaster oven with a dial timer / ringer. It is the cheapest toaster oven I could find. It works perfectly. The secret? Divide a loaf in half, freeze one half, take the other and divide into four rolls. line the Toaster Oven baking sheet with Parchment. Put each roll near a corner of the pan, leave room for rising! They puff up beautifully, and, of coarse, the kitchen smells divine of baking yeast bread. The crust is light, thin and flexible, with a little crunch like good french bread, and the texture is perfect.
I'm using a simple recipe:
Toaster Oven Heaven -- Rolls and Pizza
2 and 1/4 tsp ( 1 package) yeast
1 and 1/3 Cup Warm Water
Mix those and then add:
3 and 1/2 to 3 and 3/4 Cup Flour
2 Tblsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt
1 Tbls Sugar (feeds the yeast)
If you have a food processor just put all the ingredients in any order in the processor bowl with the blade in place first (if you really want to get picky, put the water and yeast in first, then add the flour, sugar and salt in 1/4 cup increments).
In otherwords, you can dump it all into a Food Processor, and knead until it's a ball (not more than 60 seconds or it will get too tough. If you get the ingredient proportions right the kneading takes less than 30 seconds, and that produces a texture like angel food cake in your rolls - yummy!) or by hand knead 10 minutes on a large floured board.
Turn into an oiled bowl.
Cover with plastic to rise (about 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours to double in size).
Punch, knead for a minute, cover and rise again. OR, Punch, cut in half and put that half into a gallon freezer bag and freeze for another day.
You can use this also for mini-personal pizza's too.
Instead of baking four fluffy rolls, you can roll out the ball portion for one roll using a rolling pin on a floured board into a flat personal pizza shape about 6-8 inches in diameter. Place onto a personal Pizza baking SCREEN (yes, this is important. You can find on Amazon an 8 INCH aluminum pizza screen, no larger!) before adding toppings. And put all sorts of toppings on it. You can cook ONE of these at a time. 400 degrees for 12 - 17 minutes per Pizza.
You can cook four rolls of yeast bread at a time, which is half the loaf, at 400, and they cook up light and wonderful. Crust is perfectly, lightly tan or golden brown...in about 20-25 minutes. That's the secret -- 20- 25 minutes of cooking time, moderate-to-high (400) toaster oven. And to succeed within those parameters, you must break the loaf into big rolls. A standard loaf will make eight, which must be baked four at a time. But within the 50 minutes normally used to bake a full loaf you can bake eight large and perfect rolls in two 25-minute batches. But Oh! What great rolls!
If you do freeze half the loaf (it takes about eight hours to freeze) just take it out the night before you want to use it. Leave it in the freezer bag (unzip so air can get in), in a bowl on the counter. Allow it to defrost and rise completely before making rolls. It takes about 8 to ten hours to properly defrost. Or about 18 to 24 hours defrosting in the refrigerator instead...your choice.
That second rising happens overnight while it defrosts automatically! Do not knead or punch down again. Or you can punch down and knead lightly and let the rolls rise on the pan again before baking...depends on the kind of texture you want.
BREAKFAST ON THE ELYSIAN FIELDS
The overnight rolls texture and taste will be more like Sourdough bread, or country loaves...so you have two kinds of beautiful bread to bake perfectly in the smallest possible toaster oven right there.
What's great about the Overnight rolls is that when you wake up, you can just take the dough out of the bag, then tear into four balls, shape and place on the parchment and bake. In 30 minutes from the time you wake up, the rolls are done! (let them cool just about 5-10 minutes more before cutting open..they will still be plenty steamy).
And the kitchen smells perfect of warm, yeasty baked bread. Butter on fresh, warm bread, anyone? With black coffee? Divine.
Gentlemen, there is no greater way to impress your woman, no matter how well you think you did the night before...This morning bread is the real Valhalla for her!