While recently surfing the world of Pinterest, I saw a pin for fresh bread made in the crock pot.
I decided I had to try it. I love making bread, however, with the exception of pizza dough, I hardly take the time to do it. Mostly because we have an amazing local bakery that makes fresh bread much easier to enjoy.
However, I had a Kitchen Aid mixer hook that was dying to be used and crock pots make everything easier, right?
I did a quick search for simple bread recipes and came across one for a French Batard. The instructions appeared to be very similar to most bread recipes I had at home with the exception of not requiring 12 hours of rising! Bingo!
Bread making can be very intimidating, but if you follow the appropriate steps, make some key observations along the way, and give your dough the time it needs to come alive, you will have success.
You will need:
-1 1/2 cups warm water (when I say "warm," I mean that you can put your finger under the water and it is hot to the touch but not too hot that it is uncomfortable or you have to pull your finger away)
-1 tbs. sugar
-1 1/2 tsp. yeast (I use active fast rising)
-1 1/2 tsp salt
-3 3/4 cups flour (I used 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 all purpose)
Mix together the warm water, sugar and yeast. I usually put these ingredients in a drinking glass and whisk them with a fork for 10-20 seconds. Set this aside and give it 10-15 minutes to itself. Now make your observation...is it foamy and bubbly? If it is, you did it right! If it isn't, your water was too hot or your yeast was too old. Try again.
Did I mention bread making is kind of like a science experiment?
Once you make it past this step, measure your flour into a mixing bowl and combine with the salt. If you have a hook attachment for your mixer, yay! You just saved your hands and shoulders from a workout.
With the mixer on low, slowly add the wet yeast mixture to the dry ingredients. This is when your observations are, again, very important. Give the dough some time to figure out what it's going to do, but if it continues to be dry and flaky, add a dash of water. If it's incredibly sticky or not coming together, add a dash of flour (not too much of either!). Do what you need to do to get your dough looking like this:
(thank you google images)
If you do not have a mixing hook, it's not the end of the world! I have made bread plenty of times the old fashion way. Slowly add the wet yeast mixture to the dry ingredients while slowing stirring with a wooden spoon. Once it is combined, turn it out onto your floured countertop. Start kneading!
Once your dough is ready to go, pull out that crock pot and line it with parchment paper. Place the dough inside, turn the crock pot on high, and walk away!
The wonderful part of the crock pot is that it takes care of both the rising and the baking! Mine took about 1.5 hours to finish. I knew it was done when the house was filled with the smell of freshly baked bread and the loaf was slightly brown on the bottom.
Here is when the disaster occurred.
I read that I could place the bread under the broiler for 5 minutes to get a nice, crusty top. So I did. And then I broke the cardinal rule of using broilers...I walked away! I went outside to water my plants, heard the timer go off, ran inside to check my lovely bread, and it was scorched. It was smoking. It was charred.
I exaggerate...it was only burnt on top. The majority of the loaf was safe, but to see that perfectly baked bread blackened like burnt toast was just heartbreaking.
My broiler and I are currently not on speaking terms.
After I calmed down and let the bread cool, I quickly realized that all was not lost and it still tasted delicious once you pulled the burnt part away. Mr. PT and I enjoyed freshly baked bread for the rest of the week!
Try not to be intimidated by bread making! It really is one of the more simpler projects to do in the kitchen. It just takes some practice.
Combine with a workout extension. Take your typical 30 minute workout and make it longer and harder, taking a few more breaks here and there. Pushing for endurance will make you stronger and a better athlete!