Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Crock Pot Bread?

I've baked several different kinds of bread in the past few years. I came across this "Almost No-Knead Bread" a couple of years ago. It makes a lovely round loaf - I use my cast iron dutch oven, with the lid. And with the water, you also use a little brew, it adds a mellow flavor to the bread.

I found this recipe on Pete Bakes!, but I don't think Pete is baking anymore. There haven't been any updates for over a year. There are some very nice recipes on his site, still, so go ahead and check it out.

Well, on Pinterest last week I came across a Crock Pot Bread blog. I just had to try it out. The blog didn't give a bread recipe, just stated to use one pound of fresh or purchased dough. I decided to use my no-knead recipe. 

And if you don't know what Pinterest is - it is an organizational tool for all the stuff you love online. Within the Pinterest website you create "pin boards" . For example, I have a board for ideas I want to try at work (WBC Ideas), things for working out (Workin' It), recipes (All about Food), etc. You have to receive an invitation to join pinterest, so if you are hankerin' to get on there - let me know and I'll send you an invite.

It is a shaggy thing right after mixing.
In the crock pot
The instructions for using the crock pot were simple. When you get to the second rise, (which is quite short compared to the 8-18 hour first rise), you place the dough in the pot, turn it on high and wait an hour. The premise is that it will rise while the pot is heating, and then bake itself - all in within an hour.

While waiting for my dough to proof (the first rise), I found another blog on pinterest all about no-knead bread and different add-ins for it. This blogger uses an enamel covered cast iron dutch oven for her bread baking. After reading through her bread recipe, I almost ditched the crock pot idea experiment. I was crazy for homemade bread at that point, and knew I already had a no-fail method. But I still wanted to give the crock pot a go. So, at the right time I scooped up the bubbling dough and lightly kneaded it into a nice round shape. Then plopped it onto a piece of parchment paper, and into the crock pot. I used my fastest cooking pot, turned it on high and set the time for one hour.

An hour later, it had risen, and seemed to be baking, but was no where near being done. So I added 15 minutes, then another 15 minutes....all told it was in the crock pot for at least 2 hours, then I had to put it in the oven under the broiler to get it brown. I didn't weigh my dough - maybe it was more than a pound?
Lovely color, but still heavy and gummy
Decent crumb, but dense

So good-bye crock pot bread. This is not the way for me. I was interested in this because it really saves the kitchen from getting all heated up in the summer. 
      The bread, although a bit gummy, has a nice flavor. I think I'm going to make croutons out of it. I was so disappointed that I already have another batch proofing on my kitchen table. Tonight it will go in the cast iron dutch oven just a wad of dough, and come out a star.

almost no-knead bread

(from Pete Bakes!) 

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (15 oz), plus additional for dusting work surface
1/4 tsp instant or rapid-rise yeast (or 1/2 tsp dry active yeast)
1 1/2 tsp table salt
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp water (7 ounces), at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp mild-flavored lager (3 ounces)
1 Tbsp white vinegar

1. whisk flour, yeast, and salt in large bowl. add water, beer, and vinegar. using rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.

2. lay 12- by 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cooking spray. transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined skillet and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray. cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.

3. about 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6- to 8-quart heavy-bottomed dutch oven (with lid) on rack, and heat oven to 500F. lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch-long, 1/2-inch-deep slit along top of dough. carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). cover pot and place in oven. reduce oven temperature to 425F and bake covered for 30 minutes. remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.
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