Cool Summer Baking Method
Credit: Donna CosmatoWhen summer comes, even the most enthusiastic baker approaches their oven reluctantly. In winter, piping-hot bread is a tasty treat. But summer baking makes a kitchen warm and uncomfortable. Although some bakers solve this problem by purchasing a bread machine, another good substitute is a slow cooker.
A slow cooker is a device that consists of a heating element and a ceramic pot. Chefs can place food in the pot for low-temperature slow cooking. The device allows them to cook food unattended for hours at a time.
While most cooks use slow cookers for stews, soups and dips, they can also cook almost anything in a slow cooker that could be made in a Dutch oven.
Cooking bread in a slow cooker has a several advantages:
- A slow cooker will allow a person to cook bread in locations where they may not have a stove, such as a college dormitory.
- Slow cookers use less energy than an oven, which makes them a green cooking tool.
- A slow cooker fits into a busy lifestyle. Once you put the ingredients into the cooker, you can cook bread unattended.
- Many homes already have a slow cooker. In some homes, a bread machine is an extra cost.
- Prep time is lower than oven baking.
- The baker will not need special yeast.
- Slow cookers are quieter than bread machines.
Baking bread using a slow cooker also has a few drawbacks. Since the loaf pan must fit into the ceramic crock, the bread is not usually sandwich sized. In order to use a bread loaf pan, you will need an oval-shaped crock pot. Since you still have to knead the dough, the bread will need more preparation time than bread made in a bread machine. Slow cookers also require more cleanup and the bread will not brown the way it will in an oven or a bread machine.
To make bread in a slow cooker, you need the appliance as well as a trivet, a glass loaf pan or baking dish that will fit into the crock pot crock and a quarter cup of water. Although you can use a store-bought bread mix, you can also make your own bread from scratch. Here is a basic bread recipe.
- 1 package of store-bought yeast
- 2 cups 2% milk
- 1 ½ tablespoonful olive oil
- ¼ cup honey
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 4 cups flour
Mix together milk, oil, honey, salt and yeast. Add in half of the flour. You can mix by hand, or with an electric mixer. Some electric mixers have a dough hook attachment specifically for mixing bread. Gradually mix in the rest of the flour. The dough should stay sticky.
Coat the bread pan with oil. Transfer the dough to the pan. Place a trivet on the bottom of the slow cooker and fill with the ¼ cup of water. Put the dough pan on the trivet. Put the lid over the slow cooker so that the steam will help cook the bread dough.
Turn the slow cooker on high and cook for 3 hours. Then remove the bread pan and allow it to stand for 5 minutes. Turn the loaf of bread out leave it to cool before serving.