Making bread in a slow cooker

My flat doesn't have an oven. A fabulous sea view, but no oven.

My parents recently gave me a slow cooker.

 I enjoy baking bread. It seemed to me that an oven and a slow cooker essentially work in the same way, and so I decided to try making bread in a slow cooker.

The first hurdle was yeast. I normally (like, always until now) use dried yeast in those convenient sachets. My supermarket doesn't sell convenient sachets, it sells cubes of what is apparently fresh yeast. (Google Images and friends on Twitter, thank you for helping me work this out!)

I have to admit, at this stage, I had some doubts about this bread. Using yeast I'd never seen before and a slow cooker instead of an oven, I could think of many, many things that could go wrong. But I had nothing better to do with my morning, so I thought I would press on regardless!

Ingredients: 1 cube of yeast, 600ish grams of flour, a pinch of salt, about 400ml of lukewarm water, a teaspoon of sugar.

Yeast in a cube
Cube of yeast
Flour and salt

Mash and stir the yeast into the water/sugar, until it's all dissolved:

Yeast in water and sugar
Yeast dissolved into water and sugar mix

Mix the yeast/water/sugar mixture into the salt/flour mixture until it makes a dough. It should look something like:

Mixing the dough together
Dough, unrisen

Leave to rise, covered loosely with clingfilm, until doubled in size. (This took me about an hour, but may take longer depending on how warm your house is. Don't overheat in an effort to speed the process up, because that will kill the yeast.)

After the first rising
Dough, risen

Get your slow cooker ready, punch down the dough, and then put your punched down, deflated dough into the bowl of the slow cooker. I didn't use baking paper, because I didn't have any in the house, but I would recommend it for getting it out of the pot more easily at the end!

Dough in the slow cooker
In the slow cooker

In the slow cooker with the lid on
In the slow cooker with lid on!

Heat on high for as long as it takes to cook - it took my slow cooker about two hours, but check regularly as it's going to see how long it takes with yours. Note that you will not see a crust forming on the top of your loaf of bread, because of the way slow cookers cook - the crust forms on the bottom and the sides - so you'll need to test the top for springiness.

Try not to touch it until you're fairly sure it's set though, else it will probably collapse. (See below...)

Bread, cooking

When it's done, the top will be soft to the touch, but not squashy - you'll know it when you see it, no doubt! Mine looked like below - you'll see that where I touched it after an hour and a half, it's collapsed. I'd avoid doing that, if I were you...

Cooked loaf, still in the slow cooker

Bottom of the loaf
Crusty bottom and sides of the loaf

Wait for it to cool before cutting it, else it will go all gummy. This will be torture, as you'll have to endure the smell of warm fresh-baked bread, and not be able to eat it. Resist.

First cut is the deepest...
Sliced loaf

End of the loaf
Soft, fresh, warm bread




A couple of weeks ago, friends of ours got married in the Essex countryside. It was a beautiful wedding, in a medieval castle, with harpist and magician and everything. Fabulous. I hope they're enjoying their honeymoon!

The day after the wedding, though, we had some time to kill before our flight home, so we decided to go to Cambridge. I'd never been before, and was surprised by how much I liked it - though I think the reusing of old buildings to house chain coffee shops is an Abomination unto Nuggan. (If you're not a Pratchett fan, you should be, but you can google that if you don't get the reference...) Cambridge is like a distilled essence of England, and it's mostly rather nice!


Notre Dame, the Cambridge version:




Flowery bikes (there were several, this was just the one I liked best):


Cambridge city centre:


Inside one of the college gardens:





Top of the bulding in which Costa Coffee now lives:


Abomination unto Nuggan:


Punting on the river Cam:


There's a very nice restaurant just next to the river there - excellent steak sandwiches.

 The spikiest wrought iron fence in the world:


A doorway, which I did read about but have now forgotten:


Some more photos of the colleges:





Raspberry and rose wine sorbet

So, there's been a few blog posts I've been meaning to put up for a while now, but life has kind of got in the way. (I'll tell you more about that once things are a bit more settled...)

In the meantime, you can have a recipe that would have been very timely, had I put it up when I actually tested it out - it's lovely for the summer, and down here, that still goes on for a little bit longer yet, though the days are noticeably cooler now than they were in proper summer...

I bought myself an icecream maker this summer - I'd wanted one for ages, and summer in a hot country with some spare money (thank you former colleagues!) seemed like an excellent time to try it out.

The machine came with some recipes, but none of them particularly inspired me. So, to Google I hied. (Other search engines are available, blah blah blah...) It produced two fabulous recipes - well, two that I've tried so far, others are on the To Do list. (Stop laughing, you at the back, I do make To Do lists, even if the stuff on them never manages to get done!)

One was a basic vanilla custard icecream, which was lovely, but this post is about the Raspberry and Rosé wine sorbet the Guardian kindly shared. It. Was. Divine.

I even have some step by step photos (well, almost step by step - I missed a couple of steps because I wasn't paying attention. You get what you pay for, on this blog!)

Note that this is best made the night before you actually need it, since it will need some time in the freezer, unless you have an amazingly awesome icecream maker, I suppose...


First, heat up 500ml of rosé wine with 130(ish) grams of sugar in a saucepan. Make sure the sugar is dissolved, by stirring occasionally.

Then, add your raspberries (340 grams of them, or the nearest equivalent depending on the size of your punnets) to a large container (this bit's important - it needs to fit all your raspberries *and* the wine...) and pour on the wine/sugar mix. Leave to cool.

Raspberry and rosé sorbet

Once the mixture is cool, blend with a blender so all the raspberries are properly mixed into the wine mixture. (You can probably also do this with a fork, if you have no blender, but it will be fiddly and messy if you do.)

Raspberry and rosé sorbet

In an ideal world, at this stage you would sieve the mixture into another jug, to get rid of all the raspberry pips. I don't have a sieve, so that didn't happen. (I would recommend doing it if you do, though, the pips were quite noticeable in the final sorbet! Not a problem, just noticeable...)

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the fridge, so it takes less time for your sorbet maker to freeze it. I put it in the fridge for an hour or so while I did other things.

Add the mixture to the machine, in line with the instructions for your machine. For mine, that means starting it up, then pouring it through the little hole in the lid. Which always leads to spilling, because I am just that gifted. Then you can go away and do other things for half an hour or so, while the sorbet machine does its thing. Note that the wine in this sorbet will slow down the freezing time, because alcohol always does.

Once it's done, it will probably still need some time in the freezer to properly solidify, because of the wine. Pour into an appropriate container and put in your freezer for a couple of hours.

Raspberry and rosé sorbet

Leave it out of the freezer for a few minutes before scooping - it will soften quickly and be much easier to serve!

Eat, and enjoy the concentrated taste of summer. It is bliss.

Raspberry and rosé sorbet


Copyright Nicole Hill, 2009-2010

All photos and text are mine - ask me *before* you use them elsewhere. Don't just copy them and hope I won't notice, it's theft.

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