Friday, August 28, 2009

Cheap, Easy Bread Recipe, Can Be Made in CrockPot!

I am working toward an oven free life, partially because it is more energy efficient, partially because I don't want an oven. I am doing this one step at a time. When I think of all the stuff that I make that needs an oven, it's not that much: bread and pizza are regulars, then there's cakes, occasionally cookies, and cheesecakes. So, I am figuring out how to make them all in my crock pot.
If you google "bake bread crock pot," as I did when I started looking to oven alternatives, you will find a lot of information. The information is presented as though you are about to be undertaking very critical and sensitive brain surgery.
Most bread is baked at 350° F. A crock pot on high is around 300°, so it can't be that hard.
Most crock pot bread tutorials will advise you to follow their recipes exactly, because this is risky business. I'm a little more free-spirited. I use my standard bread recipe, often adding (gasp!) spices or even cinnamon and stevia for sweet bread. Below is my standard recipe. If you want a guide, or are nervous about trying it out, or just want to try a new recipe, it works great for me.
1 1/4 cups warm water -$0
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast -$0.06
3 1/2 cups flour - $0.55
1 1/2 t salt - $0.04
I get my yeast from these people for $5.00/lb and freeze it, keeping some in my fridge. I actually weighed the 1 1/2 teaspoons to find it was 0.2 oz, or $0.06.
I don't use sugar, I just let it rise a little longer.
Let yeast sit in the warm water for 10 minutes. Add all other ingredients. Knead for 10 minutes, or until it's kind of stretchy.

Now, for the crock pot. The inside of my crock pot is flat on the bottom. I haven't gazed into a lot of crock pots, but the tutorials all advise carefully on this. If the inside of your crock pot is not flat, use tin foil to make a flat surface.
Next, I use the tin cans that my 28 oz of diced tomatoes come in as the bread "pan". I grease the sides with lard because it is easy to do with my hands and it works real well. I also leave the lid in, so that it slides out with the bread, and I don't have to worry about the bread sticking to the bottom of the can. I do reuse the cans every time.
One batch of dough is divided in these two cans. You can use any cans. If you have an odd assortment of cans in your recycle bin, you can have an odd assortment of loafs. Right now I'm collecting little cans to make cupcakes. For bread loaves I like the size of the 28 oz cans because the bread comes out the perfect width for sandwiches and hamburgers. I can fit four of these cans in the crock pot, but I don't always.
So, put dough in can. Put can in crock pot with lid on it. I put it on low to rise for a half an hour. Then I switch it to high for a little over an hour. If you have different size cans, check on it earlier to see if it's done.

Another great thing about baking in cans is that the bread comes out of the can. You can push just a little out and slice for more even and thin slices. You can also store the bread in the covered can.
This makes a 28 oz, almost 9" loaf, when placed end to end.


Emily said...

I looked up the recipe and it definitely looks like it would work fine. They have some excellent info on easy breadmaking. Thanks for the resource! I've included the link below if anyone else is interested.

Jessica Morris said...

We have been without an oven since April and the only thing I truly miss is the bread we use to make weekly.

Gabi said...

THanks so much for this! I am confused about the cans though. do you reuse the cans everytime? What do you mean by the lid comes out with the bread? I am sorry to be so dense.

Thanks for your help!

Emily said...

Okay, I reuse the same cans, yes. When I open the can initially, I save the lid in the bottom of the can and leave it in the bottom of the can when I cook the bread. Then, the bread slides out of the can with the can lid stuck to its bottom. It makes it so the bread comes out easier and it makes the can easier to clean. Does that make sense? I'm making some bread now, so I may add another pic to this post.

Gabi said...

Hi again :)

Yes, that makes sense. (I think). So the lid is in the bottom, but it's not attached? And then you just wash the can and lid and reuse?

I am really looking forward trying this - and I have a LOT of cans!!

Thanks again - this is a wonderful site!



Anonymous said...

This is a great idea, and I love the way you improvise! I have never seen anything like this before and I never imagined I could use the slow cooker without the removable crock. I'm going to try this.


P.S. - I, too, was confused about the "lid". Thanks for clarifying that.

Mrs Swan said...

Interesting I will have to try this just to see how it is. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

your blog is fascinating. I will definitely be reading more.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Just discovered your blog and I'm enjoying it so far. Wanted to share something that may put a damper of your upcycling of cans. Mother Earth News, the Organic Consumers Assoc. and others have recently published articles about the plastic linings on cans containing the dangerous chemical BPA ( I think cooking in them may cause more of the BPA to leach into the food. I'm wondering if coffee cans have this lining too. I will research this.

Unknown said...

What an excellent question. I used to bake bread in Juice cans. I think they were about 32 oz and came with liquid juice in them. They worked great and the bread was perfect, especially for a child's sandwich. But, I heard that the welds in those cans might contain lead or other dangerous materials. I had no luck finding out so I recycled the cans and went back to pans and my pizza stone.
Does anyone know how you could be sure?

Emily said...

Sharon, The article says you can call the number on the can. I didn't even know there was plastic in the cans. I'm afraid for the cans I've been using, probably most of the chemicals have leeched out. But I was going to give away some loaves as gifts in fresh cans, so I'm going to call the number on the can to find out.

Anonymous said...

I know this is lazy of me because I could (should?) just google it, but if you're ever looking for topics to post about, could you explain what Stevia is and why you use it? I've seen it in several of your posts and I've never heard of it before.

Emily said...

Anon, I did a whoe post about it.

Anonymous said...

How NEAT! I am now wanting a crock pot~LOL! (((((HUGS))))) sandi

Gabi said...

Hi again - I have been following the comments on this thread with interest. I wondered this morning if one could use wide mouthed canning jars instead of the aluminum cans? Do you think they would break? I guess it would be difficult to get the bread out :( Also, does anyone know if BPA is a new thing? Because my mom used to make bread in a coffee can all the time when we were kids, so I wonder how much of it we ingested.


Emily said...

mama, I'm even wondering about regular, but thick drinking glasses. We put glass casserole dishes in the oven, so I'm wondering what the difference is as far as how glass is treated.

It seems like the danger is in rapid heating in cooling, and a crock pot does not heat rapidly. And there are oven safe coffee mugs, one person suggested on yahoo answers, and those would work too.

Stacy said...

Why not use a ceramic container, like a large coffee mug? I use ceramic casserole dishes that are made by the same person who makes the coffee cups--made the same way. In this case, I'm talking about thicker, "earthenware" ceramics, but I don't know that it would make a difference. The main issue with this type of container is that there shouldn't be any hot spots--anywhere that receives direct heat, especially in a localized spot. Anyway, it's just an idea; I haven't tried it.

I am intrigued by this blog overall--thanks for sharing these resourceful ideas.

Jen said...

If you have an oblong crock a regular loaf pan would probably fit in....older crocks used to come with an insert for breads if you thrift shop (or e-bay) often you may just find one, or ask around on free cycle. Or what about just a tiny crock incert...I have a small crock that's just for gravy or potpouri that has a removable crock...I bet it would fit inside a bigger crock. Round loaves could just be made in pie plates or cake pans but won't be as nice for sandwhich slices.

Hellga said...

Pondering ideas and putting them here for feedback:

I wonder if bread could be made just in the ceramic crock that comes with the crock pot? It would be a really big, flattish loaf, but maybe it would be good...?

Or, alternatively, smaller loaves could maybe be made in the round french white corningware dish I have. I think it's probably six inches across, and 4 inches deep.

Emily said...

Hellga, both sound like good ideas. The cooking times may be different, but the bread will come out baked.

Amy Morris said...

I just found your site tonight and I LOVE IT! I have already been blessed by reading your pasta recipe. I can't wait to try it. I would love to see more recipes posted :-) said...

I tried to make bread in the crock pot today, and it was a major failure. The dough rose so much that it lifted the lid right off the crock pot! I ended up finishing it in the oven.

I'll have to try it again next week.

sj said...

Has anyone tried doing this with nonstick cooking spray rather than lard?? I have diabetes and the lard would not be good for diabetes control...

Margo Trueman said...

Just a thought - wouldn't it be easier to just use a bread machine? Those loaves are awfully small. Just wondering - it's so much less work and you can get a bread machine (often new in the box never used - people get them as wedding gifts and never use them) for $10 or even $5 at the Thirft Store.

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