In PM67 I reviewed Mr D's Thermal Cooker in which I cooked some wonderfully tasty stews and casseroles. Working on the hay box principle, the cooker uses a minimal amount of energy to cook food and can be used almost anywhere.
After a customer requested its Bread Tin accessory for off-grid bread making, I thought it might be worth trying it out myself.
Making stews is one thing but can you really cook bread and cakes using only a few pints of hot water?
Actually, yes you can.
The Bread Tin
The method is quite simple: you make bread dough in the normal way and place it in the bread tin, which is then put on a trivet in the inner pot. Add a cup of boiling water, and leave to rise for an hour.
After it has risen, the inner pot is placed on the stove (any hob type including induction, and it even works on a Cob BBQ) with enough boiling water to come halfway up the tin. Simmer for 15 minutes. Then it is put back in the thermal cooker, the lid closed and left for four hours or so. After this turn it out onto a rack to cool.
My first attempt was a bit moist and doughy but that was my fault for using too much water in the mixture. The second loaf was much better, looking and tasting like bread and only lacking the crust you would get from conventional baking.
The Cake Tin
So far, so good. Next a Festive/Christmas cake in another accessory the Cake Tin.
This is similar to the bread tin, with the same sort of clip down lid but circular, and you could of course make bread in it if you wished.
Prep time for the cake was somewhat longer as there were a lot of ingredients to prepare and combine (all done by hand).
The heating time was longer too, about 45 minutes on very slow simmer, after which it went into the thermal cooker overnight.
The resulting cake turned out surprisingly well, as you can see for yourselves in the lead picture.
Most other recipes do not require the bread or cake tin, but a trivet is useful when steaming.
We made our Christmas pudding in our Mr D's Thermal Cooker last year, and the amount of energy it saved was amazing.
Rather than steaming for around 6 hours, a 2 litre pudding needed just 35 minutes simmering. I placed the pudding basin on a trivet in the inner pot with some hot water, put the lid on and brought it to a very gentle boil on the hob. After the required time I transfered pot from the hob to thermal outer and shut the lid.
The pudding needed to stay in the thermal cooker for around 6 hours to finish cooking (or while I sleep in this case which was a little longer) and in this time of course it used no energy at all!
What's more the resulting Christmas pudding was a great success and tasted truly wonderful.