Slow Cooker Bread – A solution to hot summer baking woes!
Home baked bread is tops in the Thompson house, so that’s why I use this Slow Cooker Multigrain Artisan Bread recipe to give the family one of their favorite treats when the weather is hot and I don’t want to heat up the kitchen. Slow Cooker Bread is a way for me to give the family something they love without heating up my kitchen. Mama likes to be cool! I’m getting ready for the summer season. It was such a long and dreary winter this year that we are cooking out on the grill every night we can. Too often people think of slow cookers as a winter-use appliance for piping hot stews and soups to warm everyone on a chilly day. But I love using my slow cooker during the summer months when I want to bake or roast something but its just too hot to use the oven and heat the kitchen up. Slow cookers are very energy efficient and for me a real kitchen necessity year round. When I was a young working mother, my crock pot/slow cooker allowed me to put great meals on the table while working a full time job. Try making slow cooker bread and I am sure you will be pleased.
Slow Cooker Bread Technology has changed through the years
When I first began using my first crock-pot (as they were called in the “old days”), they came with a round metal vessel that had a vented top that was made for the sole purpose of cooking bread in the crock-pot. Cooking bread in the crock pot/ slow cooker could also be accomplished using a coffee can, but now recipes just put the dough in the crock pot and it bakes to fit the shape of the slow cooker insert.
It seems like slow cooking bread wouldn’t work when you think of the whole premise of baking bread the conventional way – the process is usually a really hot oven for shorter period of time with the goal being a crisp crust and a puffy interior.The slow cooker technique is different but it does work and the outcome is a very nice product. I won’t kid you, it will be a a little different than a conventional-baked loaf but it will be a very nice bread. The crust will be softer and the loaf itself will be a heavier, more compact bread with more body. My family actually likes the heavy aspect better as it seems more rustic and peasant-like. If you prefer a crispier, harder crust, that is easily solved by putting the loaf under the oven broiler for a minute to crisp it up.
The Rules for Slow Cooker Bread
The rules for baking bread in a slow cooker aren’t hard and fast. You will have to experiment a little because different brands and sizes of slow cookers perform differently. In this post and recipe, I will give you the basics of how I do it but you may have to adjust things to suit your situation and equipment.
First thing we must consider when making slow cooker bread is the cooking temperature. Exact cooking temps do vary in slow cookers from brand to brand and size to size. But it has been my experience that most slowcookers have a temp of about 200°F when set on HIGH. Fortunately this is the finished internal temp that you want for baking most breads. So as long as we keep the bread in the crock pot long enough for the loaf to reach that 200°F mark in its center, we’ll have success.
I spray the insert/liner (mine is ceramic) of the slow cooker with a cooking spray such as Pam. I cut a piece of parchment paper in the shape and size of the crock-pot insert bottom and place that in the bottom to make it easier to remove the bread. I also put a piece of aluminum foil on the inside of the cover of the crock-pot to reflect heat back at the slow cooker bread, this helps lightly brown the top of the bread. Browning can also be accomplished by putting the loaf under the broiler to brown it but keep a close eye so it doesn’t burn.
Because this is a multigrain bread, I make the dough the night before. Letting it sit at room temperature overnight gives it a chance to ferment and develop better flavor and crumb, in my opinion. When ready to bake, punch down the loaf and shape it to fit the slow cooker you are working with (oval or round). I dust the dough with flour before the final shaping to keep it to sticking to my hands. I sprinkle a little cornmeal on top of the parchment paper that I placed in the bottom of the crock pot. Set the bread dough in the crock pot on top of the parchment paper and turn the crock pot to HIGH. There is no need to let the bread rise a second time as it will rise in the process of the crock pot heating. Check things at 2 hours. Use a meat thermometer to check the “doneness” of the loaf. The internal temp of the center of the loaf should be 200°F. If not done let it go another 1/2 hour and check again. If the middle of the loaf does not reach 200°F, the bread will be soft and doughy in the center. When done, the loaf will have a somewhat hollow sound when tapped, not quite the same as conventional bread because this loaf will be denser. Remove the bread from the slow cooker and let it cool on a rack. When it is cooled, slice with a serrated knife. Enjoy! It will make great toast, sandwiches, and the most delicious croutons you will ever have. Slow Cooker Bread is a good thing!
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Slow Cooker Multigrain Artisan Bread Recipe
This recipe is one I make in my 6 qt. slow cooker. You may have to experiment with times, etc as all crock pot/ slow cookers differ in temperature, shape and size..
- Prep Time: 20 mins
- Cook Time: 2 hours
- Total Time: 2 hours 20 mins
- Category: Bread
- Cuisine: American
- 1 pkg. of active yeast or 2 1/4 tsp of dry active yeast
- 1 1/2 c. warm water – about 100°F
- 3 tbs. brown sugar
- 2 tbs. melted butter
- 1 1/3 c. all purpose flour
- 1 1/3 c. wheat flour
- 1 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 c. +1/2 tsp. corn meal
- 1/4 c. reg oats
- 1/4 c. wheat bran
- 1/4 c. of one of the following (your choice): flax seeds, hulled sunflower seeds, millet, chopped hulled pumpkin seeds
- Dissolve yeast in 1/2 c. of warm water. Add 1/2 tsp. of the brown sugar to help feed the yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes.
- Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl – flours, salt, corn meal and other grains and seeds.
- In a warm stand-mixer bowl, pour the balance of the water, the melted butter, and the brown sugar. Stir until brown sugar is dissolved and then add yeast/water mixture.
- Using the dough hook on the stand mixer, on lowest setting, start to add dry ingredients 1 cup at a time stopping the mixer and scraping down the sides of the bowl. Once the dry ingredients are incorporated, put the mixer on #2 speed and let it mix for 5 mins. or until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
- Put the dough in a greased bowl and cover with a damp towel. Set on the counter in an area free of drafts and drastic temp changes. Leave the dough to rise overnight or for at least 10-12 hours.
- Punch down and turn out onto a floured surface. Knead the bread for 2 minutes.
- Grease the crock pot liner. Place the parchment paper cut out in the bottom of the liner and sprinkle the 1/2 tsp. corn meal all over the parchment paper. Place the bread dough in the slow cooker. It will rise as the slow cooker heats up. Turn crock pot to HIGH (approx. 200°F) .
- Cover the inside of the slow cooker lid with aluminum foil, shiny side toward the bread dough crimping edges to secure to lid.
- Let cook for 2 hours and then test by inserting a kitchen thermometer into the center of the loaf. If the internal temp is 190° – 200°F, the bread is done. It will also have a hollow sound when tapped. If not done, continue cooking checking internal temp at 1/2 hour intervals.
- Remove from slow cooker when done and let cool on rack. Cut with serrated knife when serving.