Today I am sharing the results of an experiment I recently did while I had access to a trial Sous Vide Supreme unit.
To the point, I wanted to see what happened when I used this hot water bath for making bread, something that would not take advantage of quite a few aspects of oven baking.
Some of those are:
- dry heat of the oven evaporating moisture from the surface of the dough which leads to gradual drying of dough surface but also, initially, cooling of the dough surface by evaporative cooling
- the slow raising of temperature as is requested in my original recipe (put dough in cold oven then turn onto 400, allowing for final proof/loft in the oven which gives excellent bread)
- the creation of a temperature differential between the surface of the bread (crust zone) and the interior
- the creation of a brown crust due to the Maillard Reaction (where high temperatures cause intermolecular bonding between proteins and sugars and gives rise to the browning), absent in sous vide cooking
This is not the first time that I have played with this machine, I wrote previously about Sous Vide here – St. Patricks day brisket â€“ sous vide style. That brisket was simply amazing! Sous vide cooking is excellent for applications where long slow cooking or really finicky temperature regulation is needed (fish, rare meat preps, etc).
Just as a reminder, sous vide means “under vacuum” and when people refer to this method they usually mean the use of vacuum and hot water bath cooking.
To do this experiment, I used a recipe that I have used many many times before from the Joy of Cooking and specifically the Whole Wheat bread Plus recipe found on page 559 of the 1997 edition.
JoC Whole Wheat Bread Plus
- 2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 2 1/2 cups warm water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1/2 cup sugar (optional)
- 4 cups unbleached white flour
- 4 cups whole wheat flour
Set the sous vide bath temperature to 190 F (if you set it a bit higher, let it get there, and then set temperature to final desired temperature you may have better results). This is the temperature mentioned by bakers as the target finished internal temperature.
Add yeast and sugar to 1/2 cup warm water, allow to rise 10 minutes. If it doesnt get foamy and smell yeasty, do not go forward with this recipe until you get fresh yeast.
After 10 minutes, add everything but the flour and beat until incorporated.
Add 4 cups unbleached white flour and incorporate.
Add 4 cups whole wheat flour and incorporate. At this point you will be kneading the flour into the dough. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth.
Rise in a warm place for 90 minutes (doubled) just once.
Bunch down dough and then form smallish baguette shaped loaves and then proceed with experimental part of this recipe, below.
Put dough into sous vide bag.
Seal bag and pull a vacuum.
Put into sous vide machine and leave for about 1 1/2 hours. You will have to prod your bread at times, perhaps even open the bag and check the internal temp or moistness of the bread to get a feel for what is going on.
Remove bread and this is what you get.
I sliced them in half and then toasted them to make a sort of garlic bread concept.
The bread came out like bread which was the main hack. The exterior doesnt have a nice crust because of the method but it didnt come out slimy, just sort of springy. Might be a great way to make bao?
The crumb was dense and not as flavorful as this recipe can yield.
So, I made bread in the sous vide but I wont again because the baking in the oven yields a superior result that cant even be recaptured via toasting.