Sunday, June 01, 2008


A few days ago, I decided to perform an experiment this weekend. I wanted to make sourdough bread, but the weather has suddenly turned warm. As I've mentioned before, I don't like to turn on the oven when the A/C is running, so I decided it was time to try baking sourdough bread in the Crock-Pot.

I've baked regular white bread in the Crock-Pot before, using a recipe from this book and my Bread ‘n Cake Bake Pan. It tasted great, but the recipe was too big for the pan, and the top crust stuck to the lid of the pan. The white bread recipe called for 4 cups flour; I wanted to use this recipe for my sourdough bread, which I've gotten good results with before. I thought about reducing the size of the recipe somewhat, but decided it should be OK, since it only has 3 cups flour, plus what is in the sourdough starter.

I stirred everything up Saturday morning, following the recipe as written, except I replaced 1/4 cup of the flour with multigrain hot cereal (uncooked), since we all know it's a really good idea to change more than one thing at a time with a recipe. Here it is after mixing:

Left it out for a few hours, then popped it in the refrigerator since we had a graduation party to go to. This is how it looked when it came out of the fridge this morning:

After breakfast, I dumped it out of the bowl and shaped it. Does that look like a lot of dough for that pan to you?

But it only filled it about one-third full, as you can see here:

Less than an hour later, it had doubled in size. The dough rebounded easily when I poked it with my finger, so it could have risen more, but I wanted to leave plenty of room for oven spring. See; lots of room left:

I put the lid on and popped it in the Crock-Pot, turned it on high, and (im)patiently waited 2 hours and 15 long minutes. The house smelled heavenly! When I took the pan out, I got the first hint that maybe things weren't altogether perfect:

I could see dough through the vent holes in the bake pan. I showed such patience that I should be nominated to sainthood: I waited the five minutes cooling time prescribed by the Rival cookbook before removing the lid...

and tearing off the top crust. Yup, the bread rose up to the lid and baked itself right onto it. I had greased the lid (just in case), but it didn't help; the crust ripped right off the loaf.

Here it is out of the pan:

Crust could be a little browner, but crumb doesn't look bad at all:

I must confess at this point that I forfeited my sainthood and sliced the bread before it was completely cool. I figured, since I had already torn off the top crust, the point was moot, anyway. I just couldn't wait any longer to taste it. And it was yummy, no doubt about it. Nice sour flavor, slightly chewy crumb (because I didn't let it cool long enough?). I didn't care (much) that it didn't look beautiful; it tasted great.

So, class, what have we learned from today's experiment?

1. Bread rises like crazy in the Crock-Pot; give it ample room to grow.

2. A little sugar to aid browning wouldn't be amiss

3. Bread doesn't have to look beautiful to taste good


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