Galley Matters, or Baking Without an Oven

‘Imi Loa came to us with an old Kenyon pressurized alcohol stove which had at some point been converted to burn kerosene. We knew we would not be heading to sea with this setup but thought it might work for a while until we saved the $$ for a propane stove. That idea went up in flames (literally) the first time Devon tried to light it. The stove started spewing kerosene and in a matter of seconds there were flames almost to the cabin top, fortunately he was able to put the fire out before any damage was done. We have several fire extinguishers on board but he was able to douse the fire without one so there was no mess to clean up.

The old Kenyon stove, aka "The Firestarter".

It was clearly time to find a different solution. Still trying to be frugal we briefly considered using our old car camping stove. Devon built an insert to fit the gimballed mount for the Kenyon thinking we could fasten the camping stove to it. Not an ideal arrangement but it would allow us to cook onboard.

Our old White Stag camping stove, purchased when we first moved to Oregon 15 years ago.

Although workable, I wasn’t thrilled with this option so I spent lots of time searching craigslist for something better. I mostly looked in the boats category but occasionally I perused the sporting goods listings as well. My persistence paid off and I found a Force 10 2 burner propane stove with broiler (no oven) in the sporting goods ads. It was a few years old but had never been installed (still in the box). The price was right so we bought it.

The Force 10 in action (gimballing anyway, I don't think the flame is on in this photo). Note the broiler unit.

So far we have been very happy with this little stove and it has made our river cruising very enjoyable. The broiler is very handy, great for making tortilla or pita pizzas. I like the idea of being able to bake bread at sea but I’m not sure it would be worth it to upgrade to an oven model in the future when we throw off the docklines for good (well for a while anyway). The oven model is heavier, decreases storage space (even using the interior as storage), uses more fuel, heats up the cabin more, and (most importantly) costs a lot of money.

So with that in mind I decided to attempt pressure cooker bread. I was pretty skeptical, picturing slimy crustless bread (and what good is homemade bread without a crust?), but I figured I would give it a go. There are lots of recipes on the internet but I ended up using John Vigor’s recipe (from The Seaworthy Offshore Sailboat).

First proofing of the dough.

After the final proof in the pressure cooker.

and the final product (I think it looks like a giant Schlotzsky's bun).

The bread actually came out surprisingly good (I was pretty skeptical). It is on the dense side, more like ciabatta than french bread. I noticed that the dough did not rise as much as I expected so the density may have nothing to do with the cooking method. The bread makes really good toast and I think it would be perfect to serve with a stew. Devon has made a few sandwiches and he gives it the thumbs up. It also keeps really well.  I don’t think a special recipe is required so I plan to experiment a little. FYI I made some minor modifications to John Vigor’s “baking” instructions (though not to the recipe) which I think helped. If anyone is interested I’d be happy to provide details.

So for now we have no plans to get an oven. That could change of course but we are pretty happy with our little stove.

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4 thoughts on “Galley Matters, or Baking Without an Oven

    • The bread isn’t actually cooked under pressure, I removed the seal and pressure valve on mine before “baking” the bread. I think it just requires a heavy pot with a tight fitting lid (to distribute the heat and hold the heat in). A cast iron dutch oven would probably work too, but then I suppose cast iron cookware and sailboats don’t make a very good pair.

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