When I first heard about this method for cooking bread from Stephanie O’Dea’s blog,it was literally a ‘mind-blown’ moment – imagine being able to cook bread without any rise-wait-punch down- wait-rise-wait-cook nonsense. A method for bread that just about babysits itself without calling for my arch-nemesis, the bread machine? I was in, hook, line, and sinker. After trying about ten of our bread recipes, I can safely say that any bread recipe in our archives can be made with this method. The picture you see is of my new high fiber loaf bread, but I have been successful with all sorts of loaves. Follow the instructions, and the humidity and gentle heat of the slow cooker will take care of your bread baking for you with amazing results. To be honest I FAR prefer this to even using my brod and taylor proofer and the oven, especially for loaf breads. It’s just a million times easier, that’s why.
1) Slow Cooker Basics
You will need a Large Cooker for baking bread – I have used both an oval cooker and a round cooker with good results. I found that an oval cooker will fit both a 9×5 and an 8×4 pan comfortably, while the large round cooker is best if you are making bread directly in the crock pot or using a round glass or ceramic 1 or 2 quart casserole dish to bake.
2) Items needed
You will need your slow cooker (obviously) as well as a chopstick, skewer, wooden spoon etc to prop the lid slightly. Propping the lid is what enables your bread dough to bake rather than steam. You may also want to use a bread pan (for an oval cooker method) or a 2 quart round glass or ceramic casserole dish (for a round slow cooker), although this is not strictly necessary.
Mix up the bread dough according to the instructions in the recipe – you will want a bread dough scaled to a single loaf, unless you have multiple slow cookers. This may mean you will need to scale your recipe!
Place the dough in your prepared (greased) pan, if desired and shape it as you wish (I like to smooth the tops to create a rounded corner on my loafs and a smooth crust), then put into the slow cooker – if you are using the slow cooker directly you will want to grease it before adding the dough.
Take a chop stick, skewer etc and place it so that the lid of the slow cooker is very slightly propped. If you get too big of a stick or wooden spoon, the cooker won’t be able to maintain ideal humidity and heat to make this work, so I have found that the smaller the better.
Place the slow cooker on high and cook the bread for 5 hours or until the crust is golden brown. You heard that right – golden brown bread without an oven!! Remove the loaf from the cooker and allow to cool before serving.