Sweet Brioche in a Crock Pot

Sweet Brioche is the latest in my series of crock pot breads*. It may have taken me a while to give the old slow cooker a try, but now I am unstoppable. Some of you may know that I am in the very last stages of a kitchen remodel, which has me displaced and baking under less-than-ideal conditions. So, the crock pot is the perfect way to get the job done. It can travel from room to room and it takes up no space at all. This time of year we may not be concerned with heating up our house with the oven, in fact, I rather look forward to it. That is precisely why we northerners refer to winter as the “baking season,” because we do as much of it as possible to keep ourselves warm. But, this time of year can be a battle to find enough oven space. Thanksgiving and Christmas can pose a Rubik’s Cube style challenge of getting everything baked and on the table at the same time. Why not eleviate some of the pressure by throwing a ball of dough in your crock? Next I have to see if I can make bread pudding in my slow cooker. I do look forward to having my kitchen back, but until then I will not be without fresh baked bread.

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Chocolate Coffee Cardamom Bread, And a Three-Book Set Giveaway! CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

Thanksgiving has come and gone too quickly yet again. We have finished eating our Thanksgiving Leftovers Torta, but we’ll continue to hold on to our reasons to stop and give thanks, especially as the holiday madness begins in earnest. We’ve come up with two great ways to celebrate the season with you–and they don’t involve turkey or long lines of shoppers.  First, there is this decadent chocolate bread, laced with coffee, cardamom, and more chocolate, and second, we have a book package giveaway!

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Herb Crock-Pot Dinner Rolls – Summer Baking

crock-pot buns

Weather is something we Minnesotans take great pride in. We love our winters, mostly for the bragging rights of surviving them, and the fact that it can go from -40° to 90°F in a blink of an eye. This summer we add an unprecedented heat wave, which may rival the “Halloween snow” in weather lore. As the thermometer on my back door reads 95°F for what seems the entire summer, I find myself pulling out the crock-pot to bake. What was originally a lark, bread in the slow-cooker has become my go-to summer baking method. Yesterday I picked a bunch of fresh herbs, made them into a savory dough and then at dinner I baked up some dinner rolls. All the wonderful aroma, the delight of fresh bread, without the heat of the oven. Check with your crock-pot’s manufacturer before trying this, since some model’s instructions specify that the pot has to be at least partially filled with liquid to avoid safety or durability problems.  And never bake  in a crock-pot unattended. Continue reading

Gluten-Free Crock-Pot Bread

Last week I did a post about baking a loaf of bread in a slow cooker. The resulting bread was fast, easy and delicious, not to mention it didn’t require a hot oven on a warm summer day. Several people asked if the same technique could be used with our gluten-free doughs. I am happy to announce that YES, it also works with gluten-free. I used the “Not Rye (But So Very Close)” recipe from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  Check with your crock-pot’s manufacturer before trying this, since some model’s instructions specify that the pot has to be at least partially filled with liquid to avoid safety or durability problems.  And never bake  in a crock-pot unattended. Continue reading

Crock Pot Bread Baking (Fast Bread in a Slow Cooker)

crock pot bread

When I moved to the midwest I was introduced to Crock Pot cooking. I had never even seen a slow cooker before and had no idea the range of foods that could be created in a plug-in cooking pot. Since then I have had everything from No-Peek-Chicken, Swedish Meatballs and Peach cobbler, done in one of these magic devices. When my husband was an art director Aveda they had “crock pot parties,” which meant everyone plugged in their slow cookers at their desks and made a dish to share.  Brilliant! Maybe kids should bring crock pots to school and have healthy food cooking at their desks.

But, bread in a crock pot? Over the years we have gotten requests from readers to develop a method of baking our dough in a crock pot. I had my doubts, lots of them. I didn’t think the slow cooker could get hot enough, I thought it would take too long, I didn’t think it would bake through or have a nice crust and I resisted trying it. I was so convinced it would be a fail. Oh, how wrong I was. The crock pot does indeed get hot enough, and it takes less time than using  your oven, because the rising time is included in the baking. The only thing I got right was the crust, it is very soft and quite pale when it comes out of the slow cooker, but just a few minutes under a broiler and I got a gorgeous loaf. I am a convert and it is just perfect for summer baking when you don’t want to heat up your oven. You could even amaze your friends at work by baking a loaf under your desk!  *

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peasant bread

How to Make a 2-pound Loaf

In Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day we suggest baking a 1-pound loaf and give detailed instructions for making this smallish bread. It seems like a nice size loaf for a family of 4 to eat in a day. On some occasions you may want to bake a larger loaf and it requires a few adjustments to our recipe. Here are step by step instructions for baking a 2-pound free form loaf. Continue reading

pullman loaf

Pullman Loaf – perfectly shaped sandwich bread

The beauty of a pullman loaf is the perfectly shaped slices. If you don’t want to take a chance on a loaf that has a slightly irregular shape, then this is the pan for you. It make for a perfectly square sandwich loaf or movie-worthy toast. Any of our bread doughs will work in this pan, but some rise more than others, so you will have to adjust the amounts. In this post I used a 100% whole grain oat bread from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which will rise less than our recipes using only white flour from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. You may need to experiment a little, but I will walk you through the process below.

Jeff and I are back on the road to bake pizzas. We are teaching a few classes on the way and would love for you to join us. There are a couple of spots left in our class in Atlanta if you are free to join us on 1/14, for more information visit our events page. Continue reading

Apple Strudel Bread

It is apple season again, one of the best times of the year. In MN we are blessed with a bevy of apple choices, which makes baking so exciting. When I make a recipe with apples I like to combine them for flavor, texture and color. In HBin5 we feature apples in our Strudel Bread, which combines all the flavors of the traditional Viennese pastry, with the easy and speed of our dough. Roll the filling into almost any dough and you have a bread that shouts “autumn is here!” Anyone who loves apples will fall head over heels for this loaf.

My eldest son is going through a NO nuts or raisins phase, which I hope to break him of soon, but in the mean time, I bake without them for his sake. Usually this loaf would be made with both of those delicious additions and I highly recommend you try that version. In order to make the loaf more interesting without the nuts and raisins, I replaced them with a sharp cheddar cheese. The loaf was gone within minutes of the school day ending, so I know he appreciated the effort.  Continue reading

Grilled Buns on Father’s Day

Father’s Day is the day where everything good in life happens on the grill. While you are making burgers, kebabs or brats, you can also slide your Dutch oven in next to them and bake up some fresh buns. I made these with the olive oil dough from Artisan Bread in 5, but you can use any of the doughs from our books. The only adjustments you may need to make is the temperature in which you cook them. The key to successful grill baking is knowing your grill and how it heats up. The best way I have found is to use the built in thermometer, but if your grill doesn’t have one, you will just have to keep a close eye on the buns, as you flip those burgers, and they will come out just great! Continue reading

“King Cake” for Mardi Gras!

Don’t adjust the color balance on your monitor, this “cake” really is purple, green and gold. King Cake, named for the three kings who came to bring gifts to Jesus, is traditionally served during Mardi Gras in New Orleans and throughout the South. Not only is it decorated with the colors of the festival, but it also has a hidden trinket in the dough. I’ve used an almond, but in New Orleans bakers often use a ceramic or plastic doll to represent the baby Jesus. The person who gets the slice with the trinket is responsible for making the King Cake the following year.

There are many versions of this sweet bread, depending on the traditions of different families. Our version is made with Brioche dough which has nutmeg, lemon zest and citron added into it.  The dough can be Braided and/or formed into a Couronne (crown shape) as I have done here. Some bakers even use a cream cheese and praline filling, but we went with a more traditional filling. Continue reading