These breads allow you to bake once—really pressure-can once—and have fresh bread for months. We love the idea of having a cupboard full of brioche and other sweet enriched breads—they also make great gifts. Pull one out, reheat according to the instructions, and eat it right out of the jar. You can drizzle the breads with glaze, and serve with a spoon. This technique comes with an added bonus. Canning concentrates the aromas of bread and deepens its flavor with the passage of time. The result is intoxicatingly good.
The shelf life for breads-in-a-jar is approximately 3 months at room temperature. The shelf life of your bread will depend on the quality of the seal. If you’re not careful, jars with rubber gaskets sometimes don’t seal as well as jars with bands and lids. Either way, take care to get the lids on right. If your jars have rubber gaskets, cover the gasket area with foil to deflect heat. At high temperatures, rubber gaskets can melt and turn gummy.
You may be tempted to minimize headspace. Don’t. Err on the side of caution, and give your bread some room. Be sure to use wide-mouthed jars, or your bread won’t slide out easily. We tested many different canned breads in our research, baking them in both an oven and a pressure cooker. Not all breads can be canned, and not all breads that can well in an oven do well in a pressure cooker. Some breads may look wrinkly in the jar because they don’t have the crust structure to hold them up. Don’t worry about it. The bread is under lower pressure when the jar is sealed. Once you open the jar and bring the bread to atmospheric pressure, the bread will expand slightly. If you experiment with this technique using other recipes, note that crusty breads, such as ciabatta, will not be crusty due to the moisture within the jar.
Excerpt and recipe adapted from Modernist Bread, courtesy of The Cooking Lab.
(Makes 10 rolls)
2/3 cup whole milk, cold
2¾ tsp instant dry yeast
3 cups bread flour
4 eggs, cold
1/3 cup sugar
1¾ tsp fine salt
1 cup butter, softened
Cinnamon sugar, as needed
Combine the milk and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, and stir to dissolve the yeast. Add the flour and eggs; mix on low speed to a homogeneous mass, about 2 minutes.
Turn up the speed to medium, and continue mixing until the dough reaches between low and medium gluten development, 5 to 7 minutes. Combine the sugar and salt. With the mixer still on medium speed, mix in one-third of the butter until fully incorporated. Mix in half of the sugar mixture until fully incorporated.
Mix in another third of the butter until fully incorporated. Mix in the remaining sugar mixture until fully incorporated. Mix in the remaining butter until fully incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed, and continue to mix until the dough reaches full gluten development, about 15 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally.
Perform the windowpane test to assess for full gluten development. Transfer the dough to a sheet pan lined with an oiled silicone mat, and cover the dough well with plastic wrap. Bulk ferment for 1 hour.
Perform a fold, flatten the dough, and shape it into an even rectangle. Cover with plastic wrap or a plastic bag. Refrigerate the dough for approximately 2 hours, or until it is thoroughly chilled (you can refrigerate it for up to 24 hours before shaping).
Meanwhile, sanitize 10 jars and lids, as indicated by the manufacturer, and let them air dry. Divide the dough into ten 3½-ounce pieces. Shape each piece of dough into a ball and toss in cinnamon sugar. You’ll need to pressure-can the dough in batches, so keep the dough in the refrigerator while you work.
Lightly oil the interior of the jars, being careful not to get any on the rim. Do not spray the lids with oil. Remove four pieces of dough from the refrigerator.
Place one ball of dough directly into each of four jars, seam side down. Close the lids. Screw the lid on to the point that you cannot close it any tighter, and then unscrew the lid one-eighth of a turn. You want to screw the lid on just enough so that the jar is sealed, but no further. Proof the dough for 1–1¼ hours at room temperature (70 degrees F).
Remove four more balls of dough from the refrigerator, place them in jars, seam side down, and close the lids. Place a trivet or small wire rack in the bottom of an electric pressure cooker. Place the jars with the proofed dough on the trivet or wire rack. Fill the pressure cooker with enough water to reach just below the base of the jars (about one inch).
Lock the lid of the pressure cooker. Set the pressure to the highest psi (12). Set the timer for 45 minutes; the time will start after the interior of the pressure cooker comes up to the correct pressure.
Once the pressure cooker has depressurized, open the lid and remove the jars using a dry kitchen towel or jar tongs. Place the hot jars on a wire rack to cool down. Pressure-can the second batch of dough once it is proofed.
Remove the remaining balls of dough from the refrigerator and repeat the proofing and pressure-canning process.
When held at room temperature, this canned bread’s shelf life is approximately 3 months.