Slow-Cooked Sourdough Bread.
The latest in my continuing experiments investigating what can be made using a slow cooker.
Two weeks ago I made some Biga, planning to leave it a week and make sourdough bread the following weekend. Two weekends passed in which I was diverted to more pressing matters. Last night I discovered the forgotten biga in the refrigerator, and decided to try using it. I took it from the cold, fed it a little sugar and was happy to see it begin to work almost immediately. It was late, so I left it until early morning. Since I had no time during the day to stand around baking, due to the requirements of employment, it seemed a good opportunity to try the slow cooker method.
First a reminder of how to make biga:
- 1/4 tsp dry yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 3/4 cup tepid water
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- Vegetable oil, for the bowl
- Mix all the ingredients into a sticky dough.
- Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and leave it to rise at room temperature for 18 to 24 hours (up to 72 hours).
- It can be covered and refrigerated for a week, or frozen indefinitely, until used.
To make the sourdough bread, I first lined the slow cooker bowl with grease-proof paper and sprayed it with aerosol cooking oil. Baking paper would do too.
Into the bowl of my Kenwood Chef, I put:
- 2 cups or so of biga
- 1 tsp dried yeast
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 cup tepid water
- 1 Tblsp olive oil
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1 tsp salt
and kneaded it using the dough hook for ten minutes or so.
I then dropped it into the slow cooker bowl. It not-quite half filled the bowl. Perfect.
I put the lid on and stood the bowl in my sink, which I had half filled with warm water. Then I went to work. It was 8:50 am.
Just over an hour and a half later I returned to find the dough had risen almost to the level of the lid. I just put the bowl into the slow cooker, turned it on high, and left again. I did not return for lunch because we had a BBQ for the kids. It was almost 5 pm by the time I came home, and to be honest I had quite forgotten I was baking bread. I was surprised to find the bread had turned out really well. It has a brown crust except on top so it just needed to be turned out onto a board. It was just a little soggy around the edge at the top (now the bottom) so I trimmed it and gave the extraneous bits to the goat. I had a warm slice with a little butter and found it delicious, with a distinct sourdough flavour.
It reminded me of my Grandmother’s home-made bread that she made using milk that had gone sour.