Sourdough discard slow cooker bread is a great way to bake sourdough bread without turning on the oven and heating up the house.
A great summer sourdough recipe if you like!
I have chosen to make this recipe with sourdough discard but you can use active, bubbly sourdough starter too. I've included instructions for this further down.
I refer to a slow cooker in this post, however you may know it as a crock pot.
Why Use A Slow Cooker For Sourdough Bread?
Traditionally, sourdough bread is baked at high temperatures. This gives a gorgeous crackling crust and amazing oven spring.
But when it's hot, you don't want to make things hotter by cranking up the oven.
That's where the slow cooker comes in. You can use the slow cooker to bake sourdough bread, without heating up the rest of the house.
Oven free sourdough!
Now I do want to say that sourdough bread cooked in a slow cooker is not the same as sourdough bread cooked in a Dutch Oven or on a baking stone in the oven. It just doesn't stack up.
However, if you really want sourdough bread in the height of summer, without the extra heat from the oven, this can be a good option. It's also handy if your oven is out of action or you're renovating the kitchen (which is how I came to discover this technique).
What Size Slow Cooker Should You Use For Sourdough Bread?
This recipe uses 500g of flour for a total dough weight of 950g. The slow cooker I am using is 6.5L or 6.8Q. The dough fitted easily.
If you are going to proof your dough in a banneton, I suggest making sure the banneton fits inside the pot of your slow cooker. This will ensure that your dough will fit as you don't want to make the loaf too big for your slow cooker.
You can scale the bread up or down using baker's math if you need to.
Will Sourdough Discard Slow Cooker Bread Be Crusty?
This can depend on your slow cooker and how hot it gets.
I find that the crust on my slow cooker sourdough bread is quite good and no one would really know that I cooked it in the slow cooker if I didn't tell them.
I bake the slow cooker sourdough discard bread on high for 2.5 hours. My slow cooker gets quite hot, so it does give me a nice crust.
You need to bake the bread for a minimum 2 hours but I do recommend 2.5 hours for a nice crust. You could go longer if your slow cooker doesn't get very hot.
If you want to make the crust extra crunchy, you can grill it or place it in the oven once it's cooked, just to crisp it up. But this defeats the purpose of not turning on the oven. But, as always, the option is there if you need it (or if your slow cooker really doesn't heat up too much).
What Flour Is Best For Slow Cooker Sourdough Bread?
As with sourdough bread, you can really use whatever flour you have on hand. Bread flour is always best, but it can be a good idea to use a little whole grain flour in this crock pot sourdough.
A little whole grain flour will give the bread the color that it lacks from not being cooked a high heat. The caramelisation of the crust is quite slow for this bake and you might think that it's never going to happen.
I find that the crust starts to brown up at around 90 minutes into the bake. This will depend on your slow cooker.
A little diastatic malt powder could also be used.
How To Make Slow Cooker Sourdough Discard Bread
It really is pretty easy to make this sourdough slow cooker bread. I have chosen to make this bread using discard and a little yeast.
If you prefer to lose the yeast, then you can most certainly still use this recipe, just increase the rising time to suit your sourdough starter. The process is the same regardless, it's just the timing that changes.
Here's how to make slow cooker sourdough bread:
- Add sourdough starter, water and yeast to a large mixing bowl. Gently mix together until they are bubbly.
- Add the flour and salt to the liquid and mix through to form a shaggy dough (it might seem dry but just give it time).
- Allow this dough to sit for around 15 to 30 minutes or until the flour is hydrated and the dough starts to soften.
- Complete a series of small stretches and folds around the bowl to bring the dough into a ball. You should complete around 20-25 small stretches and folds until the dough forms a ball (it doesn't have to be perfect, but the dough should be smoother than it was before you started). You can see the way the dough looks in the photos below.
- Cover the dough with a plastic cover and allow it to rise. This will take around 1 hour - but may be a little longer if it's colder at your house. It really is temperature dependent. If it's cold, pop the dough in the microwave with the door slightly ajar to keep it warm.
- Once the dough has risen and looks smoother, tip it out onto the countertop and shape it into a batard (I have chosen batard as it's the best shape for my slow cooker). For instructions on how to shape, look at how I shape this sourdough pane di casa bread.
- Place the shaped dough into a banneton (dusted liberally with corn meal or semolina) and allow to proof for around 15 - 30 minutes. If it's warm at your house, throw it in the freezer. If it's cold, allow it enough time to rise a little bit.
- Turn your slow cooker onto high.
- Tip the dough onto a piece of parchment paper and lift it into the slow cooker.
- Cook the dough on high for 1 hour.
- After one hour, place a dish towel under the lid and continue to cook the dough on high for another hour and a half (90 minutes).
Best Tips for Slow Cooker Sourdough Bread
While this is a relatively simple process, here are my tips for getting the best from your sourdough discard slow cooker bread.
- Use a small portion of whole grain flours in your dough to ensure that you get a nice color from the cooked loaf. You can use straight bread flour, but some wholegrain flour will really give you a lovely color.
- Make sure that the banneton you are going to proof your dough in fits easily inside the slow cooker. This will ensure that your dough will fit.
- Use semolina or corn meal to dust your banneton rather than rice flour or all purpose flour. I find that semolina and corn meal give a much nicer texture to the cooked bread.
- You don't need to spray the inside of your slow cooker with oil or butter. Just use parchment paper to ensure that the dough doesn't stick. This also makes it easier to lift the dough out.
- You can place the dough into the freezer for 30 minutes before you put it in the slow cooker. This will help to stop the dough spreading out too much before the crust starts to develop.
- Place a tea towel under the lid after the first hour of cooking. This will ensure that any condensation accumulated on the lid of the slow cooker will not drip onto the bread and make the crust soggy.
- If you prefer a crunchy crust, you can brown and crisp the crust after the bread is cooked. You can do this by placing it under the grill or in the oven for a short time.
- If you would like a sweeter flavor, you could add up to 40g of honey to this recipe. This will also give you a deeper color to the cooked loaf also.
Using Discard or Active Starter
You can use either discard with some commercial yeast or active starter for this recipe.
Just remember that the timing of the recipe will change if you use active starter - you'll need to extend the rising time (bulk fermentation) to accomodate your sourdough starter.
The amount of discard or active starter stays the same.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can bake sourdough bread without a Dutch Oven by using a baking or pizza stone or using a bread pan or loaf tin. You can also bake sourdough bread using a slow cooker or crock pot. You'll find a full guide to baking sourdough bread without a Dutch Oven here.
If your slow cooker has a low enough heat setting, you could ferment and / or proof the bread in the slow cooker. You would need to be careful to ensure that it does not get too hot though as this will ultimately damage your wild yeast. You could also keep your sourdough starter warm in a slow cooker. I wouldn't actually turn it on though - just use some wheat packs or a jar of boiling water inside the slow cooker - turned off. This will keep your starter happy.
Slow cooker sourdough bread will not get a crunchy crust like it does in the oven, but it will get semi crunchy. Adding the dish towel under the lid for the second hour of cooking certainly helps to ensure the crust is not too soft at the end of cooking time. I find leaving the bread for a little longer does help with the crust and you will get a nice crunch - it just won't be the same as a traditional sourdough bread.
You could, however you would need to experiment as the slow cooker does not cook your bread like a conventional oven. I tend to stick to basic flour, water and salt for slow cooker bread, but feel free to experiment.
This recipe is based on my Sourdough Pane Di Casa Bread recipe. You'll see that the quantities in the recipe are very similar.
Slow Cooker Sourdough Discard Bread Recipe
- Digital Scales
- Slow Cooker
- 100 g Sourdough Discard unfed sourdough starter
- 450 g Bread Flour see notes
- 60 g Whole Wheat Flour or other whole grain flour like rye (this is for color)
- 350 g Water Warm (you can add a little extra if the dough is too dry)
- 8 g Salt can add up to 10g
- 4 g Instant Yeast or Rapid Yeast (you can use up to 7g but you'll have yeast from your sourdough starter too).
- 50 g Semolina Or Cornmeal for Dusting
- Add sourdough starter, water and yeast to a large mixing bowl.
- Gently mix together until they are bubbly. Add the flour and salt to the liquid and mix through to form a shaggy dough. Allow this dough to sit for around 15 to 30 minutes or until the flour is hydrated and the dough starts to soften.
- Complete a series of small stretches and folds around the bowl to bring the dough into a ball. (I've included notes and extra photos on this in the article above).
- Cover the dough with a plastic cover and allow it to rise. This will take around 1 hour - but may be a little longer if it's colder at your house.
- Once the dough has risen and looks smoother, tip it out onto the countertop and shape it into a batard (I have chosen batard as it's the best shape for my slow cooker).
- Place the shaped dough into a banneton and allow to proof for around 15 minutes.
- Turn your slow cooker onto high. Tip the dough onto a piece of parchment paper and lift it into the slow cooker.
- Cook the dough on high for 1 hour. After one hour, place a dish towel under the lid and continue to cook the dough on high for another 90 minutes.
- Once the bread is cooked, lift it out and allow to cool on a wire rack.