That’s right, y’all. This isn’t a Pinterest hoax, this is REAL LIFE.
I have tried and tested A LOT of bread recipes since arriving in the land of sugary sandwich bread (America, if you were wondering) and not a single one of them has turned out as soft and fluffy as this recipe right here. As if I didn’t already have a dependency on my slow cooker, this has only added to the condition – who knew you could use it to create wonderful, artisan style bread?! Forget your ovens, hide your loaf tins and throw away your expensive Le Creuset dutch oven (actually, don’t do that. Just email me for my shipping address) because this method is about to become your new best friend.
Summer is an atrocious season. I am not a heat person at all, I loathe it with a passion. So, when it comes to cooking in summer, particularly in our current house which is without airflow in the kitchen, I try to avoid using heat as much as possible because I don’t want to Jekyll and Hyde my poor family. Using a slow cooker means no heat radiating about your kitchen. It also means little effort. This bread is SUPER easy to make and also has a bunch of variations, which I will list below. Have some fun with this.
Slow Cooker Bread
1 1/2 tsp yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (like bathwater)
1 tsp himalayan salt
3 1/4 cups flour of your choice (I like to use an organic, unbleached flour)
Place yeast, salt and warm water into a bowl, whisk quickly and leave to bloom for approx 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, add the flour and mix into a shaggy dough. It’s okay if it’s sticky and wet, that’s what we want! Cover and let rise for an hour. During this hour, it’s a good idea to get your slow cooker out and preheat (on high).
Once dough has doubled in size, lightly flour counter or workspace and pull out half of the dough – it should be noted, however, that if you’re using any of the variations or making your own, this is the time to add whatever extra ingredients you choose. Lightly knead them through and then continue with separating the dough in half. Hold the ball of dough and, using your thumbs, tuck the sides underneath. This part is important, but hard to explain so watch a quick tutorial HERE. Place dough ball on baking paper, cover and allow to rise for another half hour.
After 30 minutes, place dough (baking paper and all) into slow cooker. This is the part where you get to exercise your kitchen prowess. I have found that cooking time can vary anywhere from 1 to 2 hours. Basically, you’re waiting for the bread to look cooked, rounded and springy. It shouldn’t sink in and not pop back out when pressed, but it WONT be browned like the bread you’re used to. You can remove it once it’s cooked and just leave it at that, however, I choose to broil mine on high for 2 minutes, just to achieve a nice browning and crustiness to the outside. DELICIOUS! Let it cool completely and then eat it all in one sitting. You’ll want to, believe me.
Whole wheat: If you choose to use whole wheat flour, remember that it doesn’t have as much gluten as regular flour and will be more dense. I usually mix it up by adding half/half regular flour and whole wheat. In any case of using whole wheat (mixing flours or 100% whole wheat), be sure to mix in 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder after the dough has risen for the first time.
Garlic and rosemary: At the point specified in the above method, add 2 cloves of minced garlic or 3 tsp garlic powder and a handful of bruised rosemary leaves and knead through gently making sure that additions are completely distributed throughout dough. Continue as per recipe.
The above are the two variations I have tried so far, but there are many more. Here are a bunch of ideas:
Basil leaves and finely chopped sun dried tomatoes
Subbing 1 cup of flour with 1 cup of rye flour
Cinnamon and honey (add 2 tsp of honey with yeast/water/salt mixture)
Zucchini and oregano
Have fun playing around with your own combinations and be sure to post and tag me in a photo if you make a loaf!