There’s nothing in the world like fresh bread. It has something that’s undeniably special about it. The moment you take that first bite is spectacular, a familiar and deeply comforting feeling. The sight of butter slowly melting on top of fresh warm bread is soothing to the soul. It only makes sense that people all over the world have a universal love for bread. It’s one of the oldest prepared foods, dating back some 30,000 years.
This is a basic yeast-risen bread, but with the addition of herbs and cheddar cheese, it takes the bread to whole new level. The steam from the slow cooker keeps the bread fluffy and moist, while the bottom and sides form the perfect crust. This recipe is as simple and delicious as it gets. There’s no need to knead the dough. Simply mix, let it rise, fold and shape, and then into the slow cooker it goes.
3 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
½ teaspoon quick-rising yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
1½ cups warm filtered water (about 100 degrees F)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon dried or finely chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried or finely chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon dried or finely chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon dried or finely chopped fresh rosemary
In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, yeast and salt. Pour in warm water and mix well with a wooden spoon. The dough should be sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 3 hours, or until the dough has risen. It will have bubbles and still look a little soft and wet.
Add cheese, parsley, thyme, sage and rosemary. Dip your hands into water (this will keep the dough from sticking to your fingers) and gently fold cheese and herbs into dough until evenly distributed.
Generously flour the surface of a clean table. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to remove dough from bowl. The dough will still be very sticky.
Sprinkle more flour on the top of the dough, just enough to keep it from sticking to your fingers. Give the dough a couple more folds, forming it into a ball.
Place the ball of dough onto a piece of parchment paper. Do NOT use wax paper for this. Lift the parchment paper and dough and place in a 6-quart slow cooker. A taller slow cooker will result in a taller bread because slow-cooked breads do not rise in the same way as they would in an oven.
Cover and cook on high for 2 hours and 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reads 190 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Check the temperature after 90 minutes if this is the first time you are making bread in your slow cooker. With some time, you’ll learn how long it takes your particular slow cooker to bake a perfect loaf.
Slow cooker bread makes a soft outer layer. For a browned crust, simply toss it under the broiler for a few minutes. Remove when the crust is lightly browned to your liking.
Allow bread to cool before slicing.
Tip: You can use also use cold water, but it will take longer to rise. Filtered water helps in the rising process. The hard water from the tap changes the gluten structure of the dough.