I was a total skeptic too, how is it that for years I have been preheating my fan oven almost to the point of melting the metal racks! Only to discover that my humble, hard working slow cooker can do the job albeit with one major advantage, both raising and baking the bread and all without any interference from me…score!
I mean really a slow cooker cooking bread, well as it turns out it can do the job really well. To make the whole process as easy as possible I bought a yeast bread mix. I made it up according to the packet instructions, kneaded it, shaped it and then plonked it into the slow cooker and left it to “cook” for 2½ hours.
I was really curious to lift the lid and have a peek but that is strictly forbidden, for at least the first two hours, so I got on with the job of…well not peeking and hey presto it worked!
Makes 1 Large loaf or 20 small rolls
500g Yeast bread mix (made up according to the packet instructions)
2 tbsp Porridge oats (optional)
Flour for dusting
I bought a packet of 500g wholemeal bread mix, I added 350ml of warm water which was made up of half cold and half boiling water.
Place the bread mix into a large bowl, add the specified amount of warm water and mix until the dough begins to leave the sides of the bowl.
Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, I added porridge oats to give the finished bread some added texture.
Knead the bread for 8-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Place the kneaded dough onto a large piece of parchment paper, shape it and sprinkle it with some more porridge oats. Place the dough and parchment paper into the ceramic basin of your slow cooker, put the lid on firmly and turn the cooker to HIGH for 2 to 2½ hours. Almost as you are looking at it, it will begin to rise.
This was news to me but bread is cooked once it reaches an internal temperature of 87ºC-93ºC (190ºF-200ºF). I used my meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature at 2 hours, it was only 80º C/ (176ºF) so I left it for another half an hour and checked it again and it read 90ºC (194ºF). When you remove the bread, tap the bottom it should sound hollow and the top crust should be firm.
Now although your bread is cooked it is looking a little pale so to give it some colour, place it under a preheated grill for a couple of minutes until it is golden brown, stand with it as it will brown really quickly!
Allow to cool on a wire rack before slicing, slicing warm bread although very tempting usually ends up being doughy and sticking to your bread knife.
The wholemeal bread I chose had a soft crust and a light airy crumb, it was beautiful served with my morning coffee and lashings of marmalade.
As you can see the bread is baked the whole way through without the dreaded dough line along the bottom indicating that the bread wasn’t risen enough…phew!