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I am so excited to bake this bread in my crock pot! Here is my good friend Tina from Sweet T Verbena guest posting to tell us how to do it! Thanks Tina!
Hi! This is Tina from Sweet T Verbena guest-blogging for you today. I was reading Helen's posts about not being able to bake in the summertime, and let me tell you, the struggle is real! My counter-top convection/toaster oven, pressure cooker and my crockpot are my best friends for not heating up the kitchen during the summer. But who would think that you could bake bread in a crockpot?
A friend of mine gave me a link to a recipe to make artisan bread in 5 minutes a day. My husband and I loved the bread so much that he bought me the cookbook. I think I got the instructions for baking in the crockpot on their blog.
This is a dense, chewy bread with a crisp crust and you'll love the yeasty smell that fills the house while it is baking. And it is so easy too! Only four ingredients; flour, water, yeast and salt, and no kneading! This recipe makes four, one-pound loaves of bread. The dough can stay in the refrigerator for up to two weeks so you can have fresh bread ready with only five minutes of prep work. You can easily double the recipe and store the one-pound balls of dough in the freezer too.First, measure 3 cups of lukewarm water that is about 100° Fahrenheit. I use my infrared thermometer on the water as it comes out of the tap. Once it is the right temperature I fill the measuring cup. Because our water never cools off this time of year it doesn't take long to get it the right temperature.
Pour the water into a mixing bowl. I use my KitchenAid mixer with a dough hook but you could also mix it by hand with a wood spoon. Add 1 tablespoon of yeast.
Yeast tip: I've found the best price for yeast is at Costco. I buy the 2 pound bag and keep it in the freezer. For convenience, I fill an empty Fleischmann's jar and keep that on hand in the refrigerator.
Stir water, yeast and salt until combined. If using a mixer, I suggest adding the pouring shield at this point before adding the flour. I always make a mess when the flour comes out! Also, if you don't have a dough hook, I have used the paddle before and it worked just fine.
Now, for a tip about flour. For my food storage, I buy 25 pound bags of flour from Winco and store them in a 5 gallon bucket with a screw on lid. Of course that can get heavy and I'm sure my husband doesn't want to lug that around for me all the time, so I transfer it to a Tupperware canister in my pantry as needed. If you fall in love with this bread you'll be making a lot of it and go through a lot of flour!
One more tip… You can also use other flours in this recipe like whole wheat flour or oat flour. When I made it with 50% oat flour and 50% white flour it was a little denser but had a great oat flavor. I just ground old-fashioned oats in a food processor until it looked like flour.
Another great thing about this recipe is that the flour doesn't need to be sifted. I give the flour a stir with a butter knife to loosen it up a bit and then scoop a cup out at a time, scraping of the excess with the back of the butter knife. You'll need 6 ½ cups.
With the mixer on low, add the flour slowly and let it mix until it is all incorporated. The dough will be lose and sticky. It doesn't look like regular bread dough that you would knead.
Transfer the dough to a large bowl and cover loosely. Let rest 2-5 hours until it begins to collapse. I have let it rest for as little as 1 hour when I made 16 loaves in one day for a Cub Scout Blue and Gold dinner. Leaving it out longer won't hurt either. I've heard you can leave it out overnight so don't panic if you forget it. It really is very forgiving!
Note from Helen: Tina had some really great before and after photos of the rise here, but for some reason, the after photo would not download. Sorry Tina. But trust me, it did rise a lot!
If you are in a hurry, you can start the baking process now but I recommend refrigerating it overnight. Refrigerated dough is less sticky and easier to work with than room-temperature dough. You should refrigerate the dough at least three hours before shaping a loaf but it can be used right away. You’ll find that even one day’s storage improves the flavor and texture of your bread. This maturation continues over the two-week period. Again, the dough can also be frozen in 1-pound portions in an airtight container and defrosted overnight in the refrigerator prior to baking day.
When you are ready to bake your bread, prepare a piece of parchment paper by dusting it with flour. You can also sprinkle it with corn meal but I don't care for it so I don't use it. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and sprinkle the top with flour and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber scraper. Use kitchen scissors to cut the loaf. I am going to use a two-pound portion (half of the dough) for this loaf.
Dust your hands with flour and pull out the dough, shaping it into a ball or football. Use more flour on your hands when the dough starts getting sticky. Place the dough on the parchment paper and cut three slits, about ¼ inch deep.
Lightly spray the sides of the crockpot with cooking spray. Place the dough into the crockpot lifting it by the paper. Do not turn on the crockpot. Let rest for 40-60 minutes. The picture below shows what it looked like after 40 minutes. I probably should have let it rest and raise longer but I was trying to hurry it along so we could have it with dinner.
Now turn your crockpot on to high and cover it. Bake the bread for about an hour to an hour and a half or until it reaches 190° to 200° F. It will be very pale with a soft crust.
If you want a darker or crisper crust, you can put the bread under the broiler, with the rack positioned in the middle of the oven, for 5 minutes or until it is the color you like. I like to turn the loaf over and brown the bottom as well. Watch it carefully so it doesn't burn (unless you're like my mom and like your toast well done).
Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting.
The condensed recipe is below with instructions for baking in the oven on a pizza/baking stone or in loaf pans. If you don't have a pizza stone, try turning your cast-iron skillet upside down and baking your bread on that.
The Master Recipe: Boule
Makes 4, 1-pound loaves
3 cups lukewarm water (100° F)
1 1⁄2 tbsp granulated yeast (1 1⁄2 packets)
1 1⁄2 tbsp coarse kosher or sea salt
6 1⁄2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour
1. MIXING: Add yeast and salt to the water in mixer with dough hook. Turn on low and add flour. Mix until combined. Dough should be wet and loose.
2. RESTING: Cover loosely and sit at room temp until it begins to collapse (approximately 2-5 hours). Refrigerate the dough in a lidded (not airtight) container and use it over the next two weeks.
Refrigerated dough is less sticky and easier to work with than room-temperature dough. We recommend refrigerating the dough at least three hours before shaping a loaf but it can be used right away. You’ll find that even one day’s storage improves the flavor and texture of your bread. This maturation continues over the two-week period. The dough can also be frozen in 1-pound portions in an airtight container and defrosted overnight in the refrigerator prior to baking day.
3. PREPARE FOR BAKING: Sprinkle a piece of parchment paper and the surface of the dough with flour, then cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-sized) piece. Form into a ball and place on parchment paper. Make 3 to 4, 1/4-inch-deep, slashes into top. Let it rest uncovered for about 40 minutes.
4. PREHEAT: 20 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 450 degrees with a baking stone (or upside-down cast-iron skillet) on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on bottom shelf.
5. BAKING: Slide the loaf onto the baking stone. Quickly pour about a cup of hot water into the broiler tray and close the oven door to trap the steam. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is brown and firm to the touch.
6. COOLING: Allow to cool completely, preferably on a wire rack.
BAKING IN CROCKPOT: Prepare dough in step 3, but instead of letting it rest, place the dough and parchment paper, directly into the crock-pot. Turn the temperature to high and put on the cover. Bake for 1 hour. Check for doneness (190° to 200° F). You will have a fully baked loaf of bread, but the crust is very soft. If you want a darker or crisper crust, stick the bread under the broiler, with the rack positioned in the middle of the oven, for 5 minutes or until it is the color you like.
BAKING IN A LOAF PAN: Use 2 pounds of dough. Let the dough rise in a well-greased non-stick 8 ½ x 4 ½- inch loaf pan, covered loosely with plastic wrap for 1 hour and 40 minutes. 20 minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. (Do not use steam pan.) Bake the loaf for about 60 minutes. Flip the loaf out of the pan and allow to cool before cutting it.
* For those of you who would like a printable version of this recipe, Tina has posted one on her blog here.
Creators of Hot Cocoa Bombs! (copyrighted)
Helen Reynolds: Mother of six children , grandmother to nearly nine and counting! I love to cook, craft and create things and I especially love doing that with my family, So, when my lawyer daughter, Lindsey, and my artist daughter, Madalynn, and I came up with the idea of Hot Cocoa Bombs, this blog was born. Read more about us here!
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