How Does it Work?
Choose Your Bread Recipe. You can use virtually any recipe you choose, but my favorite one, and the one I tried, is this one, made with bread flour. It’s been one of my favorites since day 1. Note: You’ll need just one loaf of bread for this method. If your recipe makes 2 loafs or even 4, you’ll need to half or quarter the recipe OR bake the loaves separately in the crockpot.
1 (0.25 ounce) package OR 2 ¼ Teaspoons Active Dry Yeast
1 ¼ Cups warm (not hot) water
1 ½ Tablespoons sugar
½ Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon shortening (Margarine)
3 Cups unbleached bread flour, sifted if desired
In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Allow yeast to sit for 10 minutes to proof. (Proofing just means that if you have little bubbles in the yeast water after 10 minutes, your yeast is good! If no bubbles, start over with new yeast. Otherwise your bread won’t rise properly)
Add flour a half cup at a time and stir until smooth before adding more. When the dough cleans the bowl (meaning it doesn’t stick to the sides and forms a ball easily) you know you have the right amount of flour in your bread dough. After all 3 cups of flour are added, if your dough is still very sticky, you might need to add another ¼ Cup or ½ Cup of flour until the consistency is right. Knead dough for 4-6 minutes (this is where a stand mixer comes in VERY handy) or until dough is smooth and elastic. Newbie tip: Kneading is just extra mixing to make the dough light and fluffy; however, less is more. If you over work the dough it can make your bread tough and dense. So I like to err on the side of caution and stick to the lesser end of kneading time.
Now is where the crock pot comes in and makes your life so much easier! The original recipe requires that you place the dough in a warm spot and let it rise for an hour and a half or so until doubled. Then punch it down, cover it, and let it rise for another 30 minutes. THEN, you get to roll it out, shape it into a loaf, let it rise AGAIN for another 30 minutes, and finally, you get to bake it. But with your crock pot you get to scrap all of that! Instead, turn your crock pot on high and line it with parchment paper to prevent sticking.
Roll the dough into a ball and place it in the warm crockpot. Put the lid on and leave it alone! (If you have a larger, oval shaped crock pot, you can actually put the dough in a bread loaf pan and put the whole pan in your crock pot. I, however, have a smaller crock pot so I went with the round bread loaf.)
Check it in about an hour and see how it’s doing, then every 30 minutes or so until you think it’s done. You can check by putting an instant read thermometer into the center. When the thermometer reads between 190 and 200 degrees, it’s done! Mine took about 2 hours and 15 minutes. I also noticed the edges were getting a little brown so I flipped it upside down for the last 30 minutes so it wouldn’t burn. The time and browning will be different for every crock pot so you might have a trial loaf or two before you get it down.