Putting Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day on hold at my library paid off! I finally got my sweaty palms on it. And My Bread and Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day…all at the same time (I just might post a comparison of these books later). So I’ve been baking a lot of bread.
If you are at all familiar with the 5 Minutes a Day idea, you can keep a big batch of bread dough in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, and have fresh-baked bread every day, if you want. No kneading and minimal hands-on time---the easy way to make a crispy, thin-crusted artisan loaf with that yummy, chewy crumb you usually only get from a good bakery. Sigh…I love bread!
But I don’t love running my oven in the summer heat. This rental house is the pits as far as energy conservation…leaky windows, no attic for rising heat, plus it’s a split foyer so we essentially live in the upstairs. You can run the air all day and it still hits 80 degrees inside. Really. Now, add 450-500 degree construction grade electric oven to that. Maybe I should build a brick oven outside?
I’m also not digging the wasted energy. The loaves are small, so they bake in about 30 minutes. But add the preheat time…this is just not at all sitting well with my frugal mindset.
So, being a-think-outside-of-the-box sorta gal, I had a minor brainstorm…why not bake in the crockpot? It would certainly trap the steam that you have to go to so much trouble to create/save in a conventional oven. And it has been done before. I’ve already got the dough made…let’s give it a try (or two).
Not having to make a fresh batch of bread dough and go through the kneading gauntlet makes it easier to experiment---there’s a lot less to lose if it doesn’t work out.
Sourdough Bread in the Crockpot (Take 1)
I used the master recipe from Artisan Bread, but you could probably use any yeast-risen bread dough.
I have a 6-quart oval-shaped crockpot. I found a metal bowl that’s rim fit right over the inner rim of the crock.
About a pound of dough (this dough has been in the fridge for 4 or 5 days, and already has a decided sourdough flavor to it). I did not allow it to warm up before putting it in the crockpot (I figured it would warm up in there---I think this was a mistake).
I found varying advice on the internet…to cover the dough or not to cover? In the end I decided to cover it with foil and then the lid (this was definitely a mistake).
After about 2 hours, I peeked. The bread was firm, but steam had condensed on the foil and dripped back onto it (it was under water!). So, I removed it, patted it dry and put it in the toaster oven to dry it out---so much for not using the oven!
The end result was not bad. A chewy, moist bread, fairly dense (it did not rise as much as I would have liked). The kids yummed it up with dinner.
Sourdough Bread in the Crockpot (Take 2)
Don’t let it be said that I don’t learn from my mistakes. First, I found a smaller pyrex bowl that would fit fully inside the crock. I created some foil “feet” for it.
I let it sit at room temp for about 40 minutes before putting in the crockpot.
No foil this time. Baked in crock for about 3 hours.
After cooling on the rack. You’ll notice this is not a golden brown loaf.
And it won’t be, using this method. It does get crisp on the bottom.
And the verdict. A chewy, moist (but not soggy), slightly dense loaf with a light, crisp crust on the bottom. Definitely worth eating. Probably not for company, though. I just might keep experimenting with this…or maybe I’ll build a solar oven next.
What have you been experimenting with in your kitchen?
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This post is linked to Works For Me Wednesday over at We are that Family. Head over there for more tips and ideas to make your life easier.