IN EAST ASIA, homemade baked goods are a rare treat.
Oh, us expats can whip up a mediocre microwave apple crisp. We can make tray after tray of Rice Krispies squares. But when it comes to homesickness-quelling stuff granny used to make? The warm dinner rolls or rich chocolate cakes? No dice. In countries like Japan and South Korea, most apartments are ovenless.
As an avid baker, I spent my first year in Korea eyeing $900 ovens in department stores and squirreling away recipes to try “someday.” It was a colleague who first said, “just bake in your rice cooker.” You can do that?
Rice cookers, ubiquitous in East Asian kitchens, make a handy baking device for breads and cakes. Many Japanese models even include a cake setting. The baked goods come out more fluffy than toasty, but served warm, it’s awesome.
This Japanese recipe for yeast bread is simple, tasty, and open to alterations. Herbs and garlic? Cinnamon and walnuts? Olives and parmesan? My granny would be proud.