Is it possible to bake bread in a toaster oven? The answer is yes
It is possible to make bread in a toaster oven and achieve a good result. You will have to make some adjustments like smaller loaves size and practice some alternative methods like rotating your loaves every few minutes, trap the heat by using a trey and adjust the time and the temperature of the original recipe to match the limitations of the toaster oven. that being said you can make fabulous bread in that little box.
Baking bread in a toaster oven is considered more challenging than baking in a home oven whose capabilities are in every sense superior to its small brother who stands on the countertop. The toaster oven originally intended to heat up your food, maybe bake a frozen pizza or even some small meals like chicken breast. But for baking bread? it’s quite a challenge.
The small space, the heating elements found at the bottom and the top of the toaster oven, the heat that escapes between the gap of the door of the oven. The toaster oven raises a lot of difficulties for us home bakers, but we can all overcome them with determination and creativity.
Size of your loafs
Baking in a toaster oven will force you to compromise on the size of your loaf. The average loaf of bread is anywhere between 500 grams (16 oz or 1 lb) to 1000 grams or 1 kilogram. When preparing a loaf for a toaster oven you need to take into consideration the space you have available. So for this, you will have to do some testing as it all depends on the size of your toaster oven as toaster ovens range in size. The key here is to have enough room for the bread to rise without it being too close to the heating elements. In most cases, I find that 500 gr, is usually the perfect size. The exception to this rule is when making a very dense bread such as 70% Rye. These dense bread have a smaller volume to weight ratio so you can probably get away with 650 gr.
Preheat the Oven Toaster
Preheating the toaster oven and baking surface is critical to baking in a toaster oven as it is for any oven. One advantage to a toaster oven is that it heats up pretty quickly because they are small. But the drawback to that small space is that when you open up that toaster oven door it loses that heat very quickly. For this reason, it is important that you get that toaster oven nice and hot when preheating.
I would suggest heating up your oven about 20 degrees Celcius or 50 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than you would preheat your oven for bread.
That initial heat is very crucial in the baking process and helps your bread to rise. If you lose too much heat when you load the bread you can end up with a small dense bread. It is also recommended that you preheat your baking surface as well. If you have a small baking stone or you will bake on a baking sheet making sure to give it a good preheat. Basically PREHEAT THE CRAP OUT OF EVERYTHING.
Time and Temperature
Because the toaster oven has less power than a home oven, it is highly recommended to make small tweaks in the recipe that you work with, especially when it comes to baking time and temperature.
In both cases, it is recommended to give the dough extra power. most toaster ovens do not retain heat very well.
Take a close look at your toaster oven. See if there is any seal between the door and the oven itself. In most cases, you will find that there is not. It will just be a glass door that is propped up against some cheap metal. All that said there are some good higher end toaster ovens out there in the market. If you got a regular toaster oven without any seal on the door bake at a higher temperature of about 10 degrees Celsius or x Fahrenheit. This will help with the heat loss throughout the bake.
Time-wise: If you can maintain a steady temperature ( which is not that easy in a toaster oven then time should not be affected, but due to the fact that I mentioned earlier toaster ovens do not retain heat very well you might find that you will need to bake your loaf a bit longer than usual.
One very important tip I can give you here is trying not to open the oven door too many times. This will be healthier for your bread and will also bake the bread faster.
If you are not sure your loaf is ready and it is a golden color keep it in a bit longer. Bread does not burn that quickly and besides, I for one enjoy a darker crust.
You can always check your bread by tapping on it. If it sounds hollow then it is ready. If not bake for a bit longer.
Because of the close proximity between the bread and the heating elements in the small space of the toaster oven many times you will find that your crust gets burned before the loaf is done. To prevent this from happening place a piece of aluminum foil atop the loaf . Aluminum foil will protect your crust from burnign while still baking your bread.
Bake in a Clay Cloche Or a Small Dutch Oven For Best Results
If you want an easy life, simply cook your bread in a Clay Cloche they come in sizes of about 14 1/2″L x 5 1/4″W x 2 3/8″H (6 1/2″H with cover) which could feet in a large Toaster Oven or you could use a small Dutch Oven / Covered Casserole dish . There is A shallow 2.75 quarte Dutch Oven by Le Creuset than can fit just right ( 9″ diameter (11″ including handles) x 5″ tall with the lid. However, since the knob is so close to the heating elements you should consider taking it off if you find that there is not enough space for it.
A more DIY approach would be to hook up 2 bread pans together. one for the bread and one as a cover.
Whatever you do make sure to measure the space inside your toaster oven before you buy any new gear.
Really, there are so many good reasons to use a dutch oven it is totally worth the hassle of the search. , from the high rise of the bread to creating the perfect steam environment resulting in the ultimate crispy crust. For more on the benefits of baking in a Dutch Oven and a step-by-step guide, you are welcome to check out this article.
Trap the Heat Around Your Loaf
Here is a neat trick that yields great results and really helps your bread in the initial stages of baking if you do not have a dutch oven as I recommended earlier.
To capture the heat take a stainless steel bowl and place it upside down over the loaf when you first put it in the oven. Do this for about 15-20 minutes and then take it out. After removing the bowl slightly lower the temperature of the oven and use the fan (if you have one in your toaster), this will create a golden color for the bread and will make sure the crust will dry properly.
Make Sure There Is Enough Steam
The number 1 most important part of baking is the steam in the first stages. This is a big problem with toaster ovens as they do not usually have the space to place a pan with water at the bottom of the oven to create this steam. If you are in the market for a new oven take this into consideration and look for a toaster oven that has enough space underneath the rack or baking tray. If you already have a toaster oven and do not have space here are a few tricks you can use.
- As mentioned before, use a stainless steel bowl and place it over the bread for the first 15-20 min
- Use a casserole dish with a cover to bake in or a small dutch oven or a clay cloche
- use a spray bottle and spritz the oven with lots of water before placing and after placing the bread in
- this one takes some engineering – take some tin foil and shape it out into a long rectangle, place it between the elements at the bottom of the oven. Just before you are about to load the bread throw in a couple of ice cubes into the tin foil. You will get instant steam.
Get Evenly Spread Heat In Your Toaster Oven
There are many kinds of toaster ovens in the market.
If the lower heating elements of your toaster oven are far apart and exposed use the following trick. It’s simple but it works:
Turn over a baking tray or place a flat baking pan and place it on top of the elements. The tray will trap the heat and will spread it out evenly.
Note not to place the tray all the way back of the oven but leave a little space. This will help the air circulation in the toaster oven.
Rotate Your Loaf
It’s not that you do not do it in your home oven, but when you bake in a toaster oven it’s even more important. Since the heat distribution within the toaster oven is not optimal, it is necessary to rotate the loaves in the oven, I would say rotate your loaf about every 8-10 min or so. It is not a good idea to keep opening up the toaster oven door all the time as you lose crucial heat this way but in order to get an even bake, you must do it. Try to keep it to a minimal. Rotating your loaf will not only give you an even bake but will prevent burns on your crust.
TIP: Raise the heat in the toaster oven before you open the door to rotate and keep it a bit higher for another minute after you close the door. I recommend about 5-10 degrees Celcius or X Ferenheit This should help with the temperature fluctuation and will maintain an even temperature in your loaf.
As far as toaster ovens go the lower end models which is what we most commonly see do not have a thermostat at all or if they do it is a cheap one that is not accurate. It is recommended that you use or get yourself a thermostat. This will help you with a couple of things
- you will know how well you toaster oven thermostat it and how dependable it is
- You will be able to see how well your toaster oven can hold a steady temperature
- This will also help you calculate how much you should raise the temperature of your toaster oven before opening the door to rotate your loaf
Do not cheap out on a thermostat. It is a very important tool in baking especially when dealing with all the issues of a toaster oven.
Toaster Oven For Baking Bread, A Buyers Guide
People choose to bake bread in a toaster Oven for various reasons:
Because they do not have enough room in the house for a large home oven, because they want to save energy if they bake a single loaf of bread, Budget issue or even because they live in a warm place and do not want to heat the house further by turning on the home oven and whatnot.
Whatever the reason, if you are thinking of buying a toaster oven for baking bread, there are quite a few elements that you should consider.
Size does matter (I had to, it was too good to pass on)
Most toaster ovens are naturally much smaller than a home oven. This is one of the pluses and minuses that toaster oven has at the same time. The plus is that these ovens heat up much quicker than a full-size oven and can save you on your electricity bill. The minus is the amount of food, bread you can bake/cook.
When you decide to buy a toaster oven you need to think about two things to consider size-wise:
- Where you are going to place it in the kitchen (whether at home, a boat, a camper). Check to see how much space you have and decide according to the constraints.
- The volume inside the toaster oven. In most cases, the toaster oven does not have the capacity for a standard loaf of bread, but smaller loaves of 500-600 grams at most, so it is important to look for as large a toaster as possible, otherwise you will find yourself baking only rolls or bagels.
Function: Bake, Toast, Broil
Bake, toast, broil. These are the main uses you need. With your permission, I will concentrate mainly on the baking aspect:
The toaster oven acts like a home oven. With a few differences. Size, functionality, settings, heat retention to name a few.
The heat is generated from the heating elements on the bottom and top of the oven just like a home oven. The biggest difference between a home oven and a toaster oven, in this case, is that in most toaster ovens the heat elements are exposed as opposed to a home oven ( not all of course ) where the heating elements are placed behind the walls ( floor and ceiling ) of the oven.
To maintain a balanced temperature the toaster oven rotates heat between the lower and upper heating elements. However, there will usually be hot and cold spots even more so than a home oven.
It is important to check that the lower heating elements are not too far apart. This may happen with devices that offer the rotisserie option for chicken and can be a bit of a problem when baking bread in such a small space. There is a solution to this as I wrote above (using an upside-down tray to capture the heat) but it is best to choose a toaster oven that has the heating elements closer together in the first place.
Basic Toaster Oven Settings Explained
Heats by equal use of the upper and lower heating elements. Good for heating toasts, pizza leftovers and so on.
Use only the upper heating elements for cooking. Good for melting cheese, browning pies, grilling pieces of meat and such.
This setting in most cases activates the bottom elements mostly. I say mostly because in many cases toaster ovens are programmed to turn on the top element to balance out the heat and maintain the temperature. This is the setting mostly used to cook with and bake with.
Today’s Toaster ovens
Toaster Ovens are not what they used to be, today they have many other useful functions like reheat, dehydrate, dual cooking, slow cooking, and roast to name a few and it’s closing the gap between its capabilities to that of a home oven. Of course, this all depends on how much money you are willing to dish out. As the old saying goes ” you get what you pay for”
In terms of baking bread, there are a couple of functions that you should want to include on your toaster oven of choice
A great option for proofing your bread dough. This function is found in the newer toaster ovens.
This function provides a warm but low temperature of 26-27 degrees Celsius and about 80 degrees Fahrenheit, which is an excellent environment for proofing of yeast dough (and pizza dough for that matter).
Many home bakers have difficulty with the last proofing stage and such a function will definitely make their life easier and will speed up the bread baking process. It is also an excellent feature to have if you are baking in a home oven. You can use your toaster oven as a proofer.
It’s really a function you want in your toaster oven.
This function features a reservoir that you can place water in which in turn will make steam.
Considering all the “hacks” you usually use to deal with the issue of steam, such as inserting a bowl of water to the oven, or sprinkling water with a sprayer on the dough from time to time, this function frees you from all these hassles and allows you to produce steam in a convenient and simple way.
While this function is found in the more expensive toaster ovens, it will make a world of difference in your bread baking process (heck I don’t even have this feature in my home oven). Not only will it provide the steam but will also prevent the opening of the oven door which in turn will maintain a steady temperature which will result in a perfect loaf.
Pizza Pan or Baking Stone
You would be surprised ( as I was ) that today’s toaster ovens ( some of them at least ) offer a baking stone.
This is a real treat because It is hard to find a baking stone that fits your toaster oven so if you can find one that features this then it is a big plus.
If you cannot find a toaster oven that has a baking stone you can check out our article on alternatives to a baking stone
While baking in a toaster oven throws many challenges at us. It is possible to bake the perfect loaf. It will take some experimenting and practice but you can do it. Try out the tips and tricks I have mentioned as they do come from my experience. and I’m certain will help you on your perfect loaf journey. Remember, don’t get frustrated if you don’t succeed the first time.
Write out your process and see where you can tweak and improve on it.