Breamakers always had a certain appeal to me. I love fresh bread, especially with my breakfast. When the bread is no longer fresh, I don't like it so much anymore.
However, waking up early enough to mix the bread and let it rise and then bake it is not doable for me. I love the fact that with a breadmaker you can dump the ingredients into the machine at night, let it rise in there, and you can set a timer so you have fresh bread waiting for you in the morning.
Being that I live in a really small apartment (965 square feet) with absolutely no built in closets, we have very little storage space and try to have the bare minimum necessary, especially in terms of kitchen appliances as my kitchen is small and I already have too many things in my kitchen, a breadmaker is not something I plan on buying. A breadmaker has one function, and unless that one function is absolutely amazing, I prefer to buy things that are multi-functional.
That's where my crock pot comes in.
I read on Emily's blog about making bread in a crock pot and how it saves money because crock pots use much less electricity (and hence cost less money) than a regular oven. I already used my brand new crock pot to make beans, turkey broth, and stuffed peppers and was eager to find more ways to use the slow cooker.
Last night I decided to give a try to turn my crock pot into a bread machine.
I threw together a whole wheat bread recipe (made differently than usual as I was missing some of my ingredients but am trying my darnedest not to spend any money between my last shopping trip and my next- I will post my usual recipe next time I make bread my usual way. I usually eyeball recipes but will need to measure exactly for my readers) and kneaded it for a few minutes. Ok, that part is something that a bread machine would do for me, but it is not so hard to knead bread. While I was kneading, I turned the crock pot on low for a few minutes to warm it up and make it ideal for letting the bread rise. (If kneading is an issue for you, you can always try out a no knead recipe like this one and sub the milk with water if you need to.)
Once the dough was ready, I placed it in a greased loaf pan (so that it comes out easily).
I turned the crock pot on to the high setting, pulled the plug out of the wall and plugged it into an appliance timer like this. I set the timer to turn on my crock pot 2 hour before we woke up in the morning and then plugged the timer into the outlet. The bread rose in the crockpot overnight and was ready for my husband to take it to work in the morning. Homemade bread makes excellent sandwiches and if combined with a legume like humus or peanutbutter, is a complete protein and is an easy, on the go meal. (My husband took the whole loaf with him, so I made another one this morning so I could take pictures.)
Here is the dough in the middle of rising in the crock pot. No, the crock pot does not need to be lined with aluminum foil to work- I just line it to keep it clean.
Here is my ready bread. It smelled divine and looks beautiful if I may say so myself. (I cut an inch deep cut along its length before I let it rise so it looks more beautiful when ready.)
It tasted as good as it looks. I love fresh bread, did I say that already?
One thing though- the bottom of my bread was a bit toasty. I didn't mind that but was wondering if there was any way to prevent it from happening. Any suggestions?
Have you ever baked bread in a crock pot, solar cooker, wood stove, or any other energy efficient cooker? How did it come out? Same as your usual bread, better, or worse?
This is part of my "On the go meals" series.
Other posts in this series: