Slow-Cooker Bread

Slow-Cooker Bread (from Artisan Bread in 5)

I made a half batch, enough for 2 small loaves

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water

1/2 Tb yeast

1/2-3/4 Tb kosher salt

3 1/4 cups flour

Stir water, yeast, and salt together in a large bowl, or container with a lid. Dump in the flour and mix together into a wet, shaggy dough. Let rise, covered but not sealed (the yeasty air needs to escape) for 2 hours at room temperature. You can use the dough right after the 2 hours rising time, but I suggest putting the dough in the fridge for an hour first. My loaf rose better, and stayed nice and round when I used cold dough. You can keep this dough in the fridge for 2 weeks; use it anytime, and it will develop a bit of a sourdough flavor. Their original recipe makes enough dough for 4 loaves. 

When you're ready to bake, turn your slow-cooker on to high (Mine worked better when it was preheated)

Sprinkle some flour over the top of the dough, and pull out about a 1 lb chunk (if you made a half batch, like me, it will just be half of the dough) Return the rest to the fridge.

Form a ball by tucking the sides in and under a few times, stretching the top surface of the dough ball. (They have a video of this technique here, it's important!)

Place dough ball on a sheet of parchment paper and lower into the slow-cooker. Cover and cook for 1 hour. (Some people have reported it taking up to 2 hours) It will be pale when it is done, and the outside will be slightly stiff, not hard and crusty. If you want to darken/crisp up the crust, put the loaf on a baking sheet or stone and put in the oven under the broiler for 5-10 minutes. Let cool completely, and slice!