Fresh Bread in the Crock Pot

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Artisan Bread making just got easier. Yes… even easier than five minutes a day.

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The Artisan bread recipe asks you to heat your oven to 500 degrees — or even hotter if it will go that high. Next, there is that tricky step of adding “steam” by throwing a cup of water into a pan sitting in the bottom of your 500 degree oven.

Even though making bread at home only costs 5 cents a day, I’ve always cringed at cranking my oven up that high, for the loaf. And in the summer? It’s hard to justify that kind of heat.

Necessity is the mother of invention. When Zoe, one of the co-authors of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, was undergoing a kitchen remodel, her crock pot became her go-to appliance. Why not try it for bread?

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It works like a charm. Let me re-cap the benefits to crock pot bread baking:

  • No hot oven.
  • No hot kitchen.
  • The steam builds up beautifully.
  • The crock pot “bowl” gives a nice shape to the bread.
  • Only takes 1.5 hours in the slow cooker.
  • No clean-up.

The only thing you don’t get is that golden brown crust. If you insist — just place your cooked loaf under the broiler for a few minutes. Or, there’s always toast.

I took my dough right out of the fridge, and straight into the crock pot, which was already lined with flour-dusted parchment paper. No pre-rise on the counter — which saved time. The dough rises as the crock pot heats up. I tried one loaf with a pre-rise, and the one that didn’t have a pre-rise and saw no difference.

The boys turned that first loaf into crumbs into a matter of minutes when they got home from school. I still had enough time to throw in another loaf, from my dough stash in the fridge. The second loaf was ready by 5:30, for dinner. We even had some leftover for peanut butter toast in the morning.crockpot bread001

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Place parchment paper in the bottom of your crock pot to keep the dough from sticking to the crock. Dust it with flour.
  2. Take your dough (any dough will do.) You could use refrigerated dough from the grocery store, or your stash of Fresh Bread in Five Minutes, or any other home-made dough you have, and place it inside your crock pot. 
  3. Turn your crock pot on high.
  4. Put the lid on.
  5. Cook for 1.5 – 2 hours. It is difficult to tell when it’s done. Take the lid off at 1.5 hours and lightly press down with your thumb… you may see some cracks on the top of the crust… it’s probably done.
  6. Then, take your bread out of the crock pot — and this is VITALLY IMPORTANT: Let it cool. If you don’t. your crust will be tough. (This goes for ALL bread, when it is done.) If you cut it too soon, the bread will be chewy and tough. 

Waiting for the bread to cool: I can’t tell you what an agonizingly  cruel process this was for the boys. They all kept walking by the bread, and putting their hands on the loaf to judge for themselves if it was cool enough to cut. That bread never truly rested.

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Crock pot bread. What a great little treat this is for us!

 

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