Life upgrade alert! You can “bake” bread in a slow cooker. Whole wheat Crock Pot Bread. Not only is slow cooker bread more hands free than bread you’d bake in the oven, you don’t even have to wait for it to rise before you begin the cooking process. Mix up your dough, place it into the crock pot, and in 2ish hours, you’ll have a loaf of fabulously fluffy, homemade whole wheat bread ready to be devoured.
I’ve long been attracted to homestead-y activities like bread baking (thanks to Rosemary Olive Oil Bread for beginners).
Others on the list: Gardening. Canning. Raising chickens. Other industrious, crafty things.
The canning and the chickens have never come to pass. I blame city regulations and a general lack of motivation.
Thanks to Crock Pot Bread, however, a homemade loaf of fluffy, honey whole wheat bread is never more than a few cups of flour away.
Homemade Bread that ANYONE (Yes, That Means YOU!) Can Make
If you’ve been nervous to try baking homemade bread or consider it only something for serious, accomplished home bakers (or people with too much time on their hands), Crock Pot Bread will prove you wrong. (No Knead Focaccia will too!)
This whole grain crock pot bread recipe is essentially foolproof.
Further, as anyone who has ever made homemade bread will tell you, there is no such thing as subpar homemade bread. Your homemade bread on its worst day will far outshine anything that comes from the store in a plastic sleeve.
Baking bread from scratch is also deeply satisfying. Biting into a warm, butter-smeared slice of bread you’ve knit together from start to finish doesn’t just taste better. It feels better.
While I experience a connection to food whenever I cook from scratch, homemade bread is special. It nourishes more deeply than I can describe, more than other recipes. Please make this Crock Pot Bread just so you can experience the connection too.
How To Bake Bread in a Slow Cooker
I read about the idea of baking bread in the slow cooker years ago, and it’s been tangled in the back of my mind since. With our house heating up for the summer, now seemed like the perfect time to leave the oven off and give Crock Pot Bread a try.
While using an oven to make bread does have some benefits over the slow cooker, the largest being that the cook time is more certain, the oven forms a better outside “crust,” and the bread is more puffed and domed, overall, I was really pleased with how baking bread in the crock pot turned out.
Despite not being as tall as oven baked bread, the texture of the bread was still soft and fluffy, the loaf sliced nicely once cooled, and it made some of the best toast I’ve eaten in ages.
Crock Pot Bread also has its own advantages. My favorite: you don’t need to wait for the dough to rise prior to shaping and baking the loaf.
With most homemade bread recipes, you mix the dough, let it rise for about an hour in the bowl unshaped, then shape it and let rise a second time prior to baking.
Crock Pot Bread skips the fuss. As the slow cooker heats, the dough will complete all of its necessary rising. All you do is mix, shape, and bake.
You can leave the bread in a free form boule-style loaf as I did. If you prefer a more structured shape like classic sandwich bread, as long as your slow cooker is large enough, you can actually still put the dough in a loaf pan, then place the loaf pan directly inside of the slow cooker and bake the bread that way.
Crock Pot Bread does take some trial and error. Bread is done when it reaches an internal temperature of approximately 200 degrees F, which is conveniently the max temperature most slow cookers reach when set to HIGH.
Depending upon how quickly your slow cooker warms, and its exact HIGH temperature, you will see some variation in the cook time. Your best bet is to treat your first loaf as a tasty experiment. Once you know how long your specific slow cooker needs to bake it, you won’t need to watch future loaves as closely to tell when the bread done.
The easiest way to tell when a loaf of bread has finished baking is to take its internal temperature with an inexpensive digital instant read thermometer like this one. When the center of the bread hits 190-200 degrees F, it’s good to go.
The recipe I’ve included here is for a simple whole wheat crock pot bread.
From what I’ve read, however, you can make any bread recipe in the crock pot. If you have your heart set on a no knead crock pot bread, crock pot cheese bread, slow cooker sourdough bread, or another, feel free to try this method. Prepare your dough up to the point of its first rise, then follow the directions I’ve included here.
More Crock Pot Recipes
Crock Pot Bread
- 3 cups white whole wheat flour plus additional for kneading
- 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast 1 packet; see notes if using dry active yeast
- 1 cup lukewarm milk any kind you like (the milk should be warm but not hot)
- 1/4 cup lukewarm water
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- Prepare the bread dough: In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and yeast. Add the milk, water, olive oil, honey, apple cider vinegar, and salt. Mix on low speed or by hand until the dough begins to leave the side of the bowl. If time allows, let the dough rest for 25 minutes to allow the liquid to absorb (this makes for the easiest kneading, as it gives the flour time to absorb the moisture from the liquid ingredients).
- If using a standing mixer, switch to the dough hook. If kneading by hand, transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface. By hand (lightly oil your hands to prevent sticking) or on medium speed with the mixer, knead the dough for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it is smooth and supple. This dough should be soft, yet still firm enough to knead. If the dough is too sticky at any point, add flour 1 tablespoon at a time. If it is too dry, add water 1 tablespoon at a time. The amount of liquid or flour you need can vary based on the weather, humidity, and the flour’s mood that day.
- Place the dough in the center of your work surface (if you’ve been using a mixer, lightly oil the surface first) and shape it into a tight, round ball. Place the dough in the center of a large piece of parchment paper. Using the parchment like handles, transfer the dough to a slow cooker (you can use any size of slow cooker that comfortably holds the dough). Flatten the parchment paper as much as you can against the slow cooker’s bottom and sides.
- Cover the slow cooker and turn it to HIGH. Bake for 1 to 2 1/2 hours, until the loaf reaches an internal temperature of 190 to 200 degrees F when tested with an instant read thermometer. The top will feel soft but not spongy or squishy, the bottom will be hard and slightly golden, and the loaf will sound hollow when the bottom is tapped. The cook time will vary depending upon your slow cooker. If it is your first loaf, consider it a bit of a test. Once you know how long your slow cooker needs, every subsequent loaf will be similar.
- Remove the loaf from the slow cooker by lifting it out with the parchment. If you’d like to darken or toast its crust, place it under the oven’s broiler for 3 to 4 minutes, watching it VERY carefully so that the bread does not burn
- Remove the bread from the oven, and place it on a wire rack. Let cool completely before slicing...or tear right into it and smear it with butter. Your secret is safe with me.
- If using dry active yeast, before starting the recipe, heat the 1/4 cup water called for to the temperature specified on the packet (usually it should be bathwater warm, but not hot). Dissolve the yeast in the water and let sit 5 minutes until it’s foamy and increases in size. Add to the recipe as directed.
- Store leftover bread tightly wrapped in plastic at room temperature for 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
- If your slow cooker is large enough to hold a loaf pan, instead of using parchment paper, you can also shape the dough into a loaf, spray the loaf pan with nonstick spray, place the dough into this loaf pan, then place the pan into the slow cooker. Cook as directed.
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