Slow cooking breads and rolls is awesome! It really has been a wonderful way to bake up some healthy homemade breads without heating up my kitchen. You can get the wonderful smell of fresh baked bread throughout the house without the heat!
I started thinking of slow cooker baking in anticipation of the latest Kathy Hester new book,
I’m always looking for better ways to do things in the kitchen and this slow cooker idea is spreading fast through my recipes. So far I’ve slow baked 2 Artisan loaves and 2 rolls recipes. Each new recipe I’ve learned a little more. Tweaked my timing. Increased the yeast, etc. The bread baking is really based on a simple rule of thumb that bread dough should normally be a 3 to 1 ratio of flour to liquid and they are done baking at an internal temperature of 160 degrees.
The rest is up to your own creativity!!
To bake in a slow cooker, you’ll need a good meat thermometer. This will help you know when your breads are cooked through without letting out all the heat from the cooker or relying on a set time in a recipe. Inserting the thermometer into the center of the bread will allow you to monitor how much more time the loaf needs when you get to the end of the baking time. You will also need some way of protecting the dough from the bottom of the cooker. For rolls I’ve used small baking pans and foil layers. For bread loaves, parchment paper works well. You just need to create a small cushion for the air to circulate around the dough.
As for the dough recipes, I’ve gotten pretty good at adding enough of this and enough of that to make up a good bread dough without a recipe. As I mentioned, dough ingredients should normally start with a ratio of 3 parts flour to 1 part liquid. Then you add in enough additional flour to just allow the batter to clean the sides of the bowl while it’s being mixed. Rolls need a little less flour. Obviously, as your Mother may have taught you, it is easier to add than it is to subtract when cooking so start off with less flour and then add to the bowl until you have a good sticky dough that forms into a ball as it’s incorporating the ingredients. I don’t mean to say that this is fool proof or easy on the first try. But it is a good way to think about your bread recipes. Climate and cooking times, flours and add ins can greatly effect how a recipe turns out. I’ve found its better to understand the dough than it is to force it to a predetermined amount of dry and wet mixed. Let the dough tell you when it’s ready to sit and rise. When it’s done puffing up and wants to just get into the heat and make itself into the best tasting thing you’ve tasted…that day anyway 😉
So after you have a good dough going, how can I spruce it up some with some great add ins?
In my slow cooker breads so far, I’ve added in sunflower seeds, fresh basil, cranberries, raisins, cinnamon butter, hazel nuts, flax seed… all with good tasty success!
You get the picture?
It’s up to you at this point.
Too much fruit may effect how much liquid you add to the flour but again, add less at the beginning and see how the dough does in the first rise. If it seems a little moist, knead in a bit of flour. If it’s dry, you can go a little heavier with fresh fruits or creamy swirls of flavoring inside your loaves. Nuts don’t generally effect the dough too much either way although I’ve found they can keep the bread from drying out once you’ve cut into it.
After you pick out some flavorful add ins for your bread you can start out with a basic bread dough for your first few loaves. I’ve made up a little starter loaf list here or use one you’re already comfortable with.
3 cups flour + a little more for dusting and firming up the dough as necessary
1 cup warm water or nut milk (keep it between 105 & 110 degrees for your yeast)
2 Flax eggs or egg substitute
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Agave Nector
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
2 tsp. Yeast
Add your yeast in with warmed water or milk. Add in the Agave and let sit until bubbles form on top of the liquid. About 10 minutes.
Sift dry ingredients together. Add the oil, flax egg and salt in with the water or milk and pour liquid into the flour mix. Stir and fold in the liquid to the flour until any dry areas are gone and the dough begins to clean the side of your bowl. Add in more flour *1 Tbs. at a time until your dough is forms into a ball. It will be slightly sticky and rubbery when poked with your finger.
Coat your dough with a Very light coating of oil and leave it to rise in the bottom of a bowl. I cover mine with a towel to hold in the heat and sit it in a warm room for an hour. It should double in size.
At this point your dough is ready to have some add ins.
I’ve made one loaf with fresh basil and sunflower seeds, one with cranberries and chopped hazelnuts and a luscious cinnamon butter with raisin roll batch.
Add in enough fruit / nuts / herbs etc. to distribute some throughout the dough ball, mixing in the ingredients with your hands. Form the dough back into a ball and place your dough back in the bowl for one more hour rise. After this second rise, place your dough in the center of a preheated slow cooker set on high. For bread loaves, cover the bottom of the cooker with parchment paper. Put the dough on the paper and place the cover on the cooker. Bake on high for 30 minutes. The top of your cooker will most likely have some water beads built up at this point but that shouldn’t effect the bread’s cooking. Lift the lid slightly and insert a meat thermometer into the center of the loaf. I close the lid down on the thermometer to loose as little heat as possible here. You’re looking for an internal temperature of 160. Continue cooking your bread on high until you’ve reached 160 and then remove from the cooker to cool. If you’d like a more browned loaf, place the bread under a broiler for a few minutes to brown the tops and edges.
That’s it. You’ve made a wonderfully flavorful loaf of bread with no kneading the dough and no heating up the house!
Now that you’re an expert at slow cooker bread, let’s try some rolls.
Slow Cooker Cinnamon Butter Raisin Rolls
1 Cup Self Rising Flour
2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 tsp. Sea Salt
2 Tbs. Cinnamon
1 Cup Nut Milk or Water * warmed to 105 – 110 degrees
1/4 Cup Olive Oil + 1 Tbs. for the dough rise
1/4 Cup Agave Nector
2 tsp. Dry Active Yeast
Cinnamon Butter Filling:
4 Tbs. Vegan Butter softened
1 Tbs. Cinnamon
3/4 Cup Organic Brown Sugar
1 Cup Raisins
Sift together flours, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl and set aside.
Add the Yeast and Agave to the Nut Milk and let sit for 10+ minutes until bubbles begin to form on the top of the milk.
Add the 1/4 Cup Oil in with the Nut Milk and pour into the center of the flour.
Fold the wet into the dry with a spatula or large spoon.
Stir gently until the wet ingredients are incorporated into the flour to form a dough ball.
Knead the dough with your hand until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl.
Add in small amounts of additional flour if needed.
Drizzle 1 Tbs. of oil over the dough ball and smooth over the dough to prevent drying during the rise.
Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and move the bowl to a draft free warm area.
Let the dough rise for 1 hour or until it has doubled.
Mix together Cinnamon Butter Filling with a fork until smooth and set aside.
Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Flour your fingertips and punch down or roll out dough to form a large rectangle. It should be about 12″ by 8 inches, 1/2 inch thick. Spread the Cinnamon Butter Filling over the rolled out dough to cover all the way to each edge of the rectangle. Sprinkle the filling with Raisins. Beginning on the 6 inch side, gently roll the dough up to form a long roll and place the seam on the underside of the roll. Cut the roll into 5 large slices. Turn each slice on it’s side and place it inside a round pan or directly in the crock pot if you have a round crock. All the slices should push up against each other in the pan. Sprinkle the tops of each roll with a pinch of additional brown sugar. Cover the pan or crock and let the rolls rise again for 1 hour.
With the rolls now in the crock pot, heat on high setting and bake covered for 30 minutes. Check for doneness with a meat thermometer into the center of one of the rolls. The rolls are cooked through with an inner temp of 160 degrees. This may take up to 90 minutes or more depending on your crockpot but check frequently for the temp. so as not to overcook the rolls.
Remove the rolls from the crock and serve hot.
Time to make more….
Makes 5 LARGE cinnamon rolls. Store leftovers wrapped in the fridge for up to 1 week.
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