About six months ago it had never occurred to me that you could bake bread in a slow cooker. Then Becky asked for a recipe over on my Facebook group Bread Made Easy. That triggered my interest and I went out and bought the cheapest and smallest slow cooker on the UK market (Wilko’s in case you are interested). I have been experimenting on and off with baking a loaf in it ever since. I have learned a lot along the way.
Here are my top tips:
- Check your manufacturer instructions. Some slow cookers require a high percentage of liquid so may not be suitable for baking bread.
- If you have a small slow cooker (3.5l) then 400g of flour will make a loaf the maximum size for the crock pot.
- Add less yeast than you normally would for a loaf. I like to allow the dough to rise first in the bowl after doing the stretch and folds to make sure that the loaf has proper fermentation. Then I pop it into the slow cooker for the second rise and bake. If you used the same amount of yeast as you normally might (eg 5-7g of fast action) the loaf will over ferment in the slow cooker before it bakes. Reduce the yeast to 2g fast action/easy bake/instant.
- You can make any loaf that you like in a slow cooker. I have made them with all water but find that these stale quite quickly because as the loaf cooks slowly the water dissipates out of the loaf and you can end up with quite a dry loaf. I prefer to make my dough with milk or half water/ half milk. It’s not absolutely necessary though and you could make your loaf with the tangzhong method instead of using milk. Why not try wholemeal or a fruit loaf?
- You don’t have to turn the loaf after 2 hours. You can leave it to continue to bake and it will have a more domed top. It will be very pale on top but it will be fully cooked. If you like a soft crust you will prefer the soft top.
- Rather than turning the loaf over in the slow cooker to brown you can fetch it out and brown it in the oven or under the grill. So if you happen to have your oven on anyway this is a great way of finishing your loaf and getting that colour that we expect our loaves to have. However, it defeats the object of baking the loaf in the slow cooker in the first place if you then turn your oven on to finish it off.
I am really pleased that my experiments have largely been a success. I haven’t had a total disaster, some just haven’t been instagram worthy. They might have been a bit too pale or a bit over proofed. Generally the bread is not as good as one baked the conventional way but it’s great that you can cook bread if all you have access to is a slow cooker whether for budget purposes, caravanning or just to make life a little bit easier.
The full recipe is below the video.
400g bread flour
6g fine sea salt
2g easy bake/fast action/ instant yeast
280-300g milk or 140g milk plus 140-160g water
Place all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Leave to rest for 10 minutes and then follow the stretch and fold routine, doing three rounds of stretch and fold with a rest in between. Allow the dough to get airy and double in size.
Line your crock pot with baking parchment and trim an excess so that the lid fits well.
Lightly flour the work surface. Tip the dough onto the floured surface and shape. Place the shaped loaf into the pot, place the lid on top and turn the slow cooker to high. bake for two hours. Check to see if it needs turning and bake for another 30 minutes. Check that it is fully baked with a probe thermometer. It should reach 90C.
Allow to cool on a wire rack.
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