Wednesday 4 July 2012

Baking Bread in a Slow Cooker

I made a Greek pizza a couple of weeks back.  I wanted a whole wheat crust for the pizza so I mixed up a batch of whole wheat bread dough, but only needed about a third of it for the pizza crust.  I was left with the remaining two thirds of the dough - enough to make a very large loaf of bread.

I was cooking for my blog that day so my oven was completely full and likely to remain in use for hours.  My freezer was completely full too, so freezing the extra bread dough was not an option.

I'd had been seeing many posts on Pinterest about baking bread in a slow cooker and although I had my doubts about whether the process would produce a good loaf of bread, it seemed like I'd arrived at the right moment to give the idea a try.

Most of the posts on Pinterest were like this one from Bread in Five, showing small-ish loaves baked in large slow cookers, with air space around the sides of the loaf.  

My large slow cooker was filled with soup at the time, so I couldn't use it for my bread, and the amount of dough I had to bake was larger than the amount specified in the recipes I was seeing on line.  I decided to go ahead anyway, doing best I could with what was available to me.  

I buttered the inside of my smaller slow cooker just as I would when preparing a regular loaf pan, formed the bread dough into a round, and set it in the bottom of the cooker.  

I put the lid on the cooker and set it in a warm, sunny spot but didn't plug it in.  The bread rose for about an hour and a half, until doubled in size.

With the lid still on, I plugged in the cooker and cooked the bread on "high."

My slow cooker is elderly and cooks at a lower temperature than some of the new ones. It took about an hour and fifteen minutes until the bread was cooked enough to sound hollow when I tapped on the top.

I turned the bread out of the cooker.

The top crust was a little soft but the sides of the bread where it had been in contact with the walls of the slow cooker were just as crusty as they would have been if baked in a bread pan.  The problem for me lay with the bottom of the loaf, which - although cooked - was very soft.  

The various links I saw on Pinterest suggested putting the loaf under the broiler to crisp up the crust so I turned the loaf bottom-side-up, set it on the middle rack of the oven and crisped it under the broiler. 

The bottom of the loaf did crisp up some, but the sides of the loaf got very dark and the top of the loaf ended up with indentations from the oven rack.  I could overlook the indentations, but I dislike dark crust so I ended up using a serrated knife to scrape off most of the dark bits. 

Next time I do this, I'll just live with the soft crust rather than going through the song and dance associated with putting the bread under the broiler.

The finished loaf was a big round, and would've yielded slices too large for practical use so I sliced the loaf in half vertically and then sliced each half into horizontal, half moon shaped slices.

I was quite pleased with how my slow cooker bread turned out. It had a texture similar to bread baked in a bread machine.  It made great toast and really good sandwiches.  

So I learned something new!  

You can bake bread in a slow cooker!  It's a good alternative cooking method for days when the oven is already in use, or when it's too hot to want to turn on the stove.

It's always a good day when you learn something new.  I'm glad I gave it a try.


Unknown said...

I love this Beth!! never even thought to try this. How fun!!! something new for me to try! :) xoxoxo

Aunt B said...

Me either, until I saw it on Pinterest. I love a kitchen experiment and this one was good fun. :)