How to make bread without an oven

19 March 2012
How to make bread without an oven
How to make bread without an oven

When the Fabulous Baker Brothers leapt onto our screens earlier this year, it was hard to decide what to be more jealous of: their smoulderingly dark good looks, or their wood-fired bread oven.

Add in Jamie Oliver's proclamation that "To my mind, wood-fired ovens are the ultimate foodie must-have', and the humble home oven begins to look decidedly passé. But spare a thought for those among us who, for reasons including mechanical failure and stingy landlords, are bereft of any oven whatsoever. How then, you ask, can you make bread without an oven?

Pan-demonium

Never fear, as in an oven-less world you can make some bread. Take, for example, griddled breads that can be cooked in a frying pan. Examples include the Irish soda farl, made with bicarbonate of soda as the raising agent instead of yeast, and the Indian paratha, an unleaven flatbread cooked in a tava (a type of frying pan).

If you're looking for an advanced baking challenge, have a go at the slap-and-stretch technique used to build up the delicate layers in a roti canai, the much loved Malaysian version of a paratha.

Steaming away

Another stove-top solution is a steamer, usually used to make bread in the form of buns or dumplings. In East Asia, every nation seems to have their own version of the fluffy steamed savoury bun made from a sweetened white flour dough, from the Chinese char siu bao (a staple of dim sum menus) to the Japanese nikuman and Vietnamese bánh bao. For a chocoholic take on the Chinese bao, check out my recipe for Nutella-filled steamed buns.

Steamed breads aren't only confined to the East though, as demonstrated by the Austrian germknoedel, a steamed yeast dumpling filled with a plum butter.

Barbie bread

What about bread in the great outdoors? No problem: whack the bread on the barbeque along with the bangers and burgers. It's a low-fuss way of making pita-style flatbreads, plus it's guaranteed to impress your guests who turned up expecting store-bought plastic-wrapped hot dog buns.

Sweet sizzles

Lastly, let's not forget our favourite fried dough: the good old doughnut. It's easy to condemn this high-calorie snack as a purely American vice, but let's not forget that the upmarket French version, the classy-sounding beignet, while across the globe people are tucking into all manner of chocolate-dipped churros, oily youtiao (Chinese fried dough sticks) and Tunisian yo-yos, to name a few.

So next time you oven packs in, which of these oven-less breads will you be making?

Related reads
The history of maslin, the original rustic bread

The secret of how to make ciabatta

The secret of how to make rye bread

Oven love: the history of the hot box in the kitchen

The 11 weirdest global foods

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