The recent article on making bread offshore (Fresh bread every day Issue 131, July/Aug. 2003) caught my attention, since we were leaving in September 2004 for a circumnavigation. I have been making my bread at home in a bread machine for several years. But when I told my husband I wanted to use my bread machine on our Corbin 39, he looked at me and had a good laugh. “Takes too much energy,” he said, and that was the end of the discussion.
I read Eric Forsyth’s article and was a bit disappointed to see that it took one hour to bake the bread. I had been doing some research to find a way to make fresh bread, fast. This summer, I found and tried a method to bake bread in only 20 minutes. I use a Presto pressure cooker to bake my bread. I use a regular bread recipe. As long as it does not use more than 2 1/2 cups of flour, it will work. You can also use fast yeast, which gives you the advantage of being able to put all the ingredients in a bowl at once and mix it into dough.
Let the dough rise to twice its size. Then knead the dough several minutes. Oil or grease the Presto, place the dough in it, and let it rise again to twice the size. Close the lid, making sure the rubber seal is on properly. Don’t put on the pressure valve. You will not need it for this recipe. Put the Presto on the stove over the lowest possible flame.
As soon as steam starts coming out of the chimney (it takes about five minutes on my stove) wait 15 minutes. You will need to check the chimney carefully the first few times, as it is not obvious when the steam is coming out. To speed up cooking I tried increasing the heat and ended up with burned bread! After 15 minutes, let the Presto cool down before opening it. The crust of the bread will be at the bottom.
The advantage I find in this technique is that you heat up the boat only for 20 minutes, instead of an hour, and you save gas. I would also like to add that while Forsyth uses a basic, universal bread recipe that works each time, you could also add an egg; replace water with milk, fruit or vegetable juice; and add spices, dried fruits, nuts or cheese.
Carole Girard lives in Gatineau, Quebec.