Recipe: Slow Cooker Whole Wheat Bread

There’s something about homemade bread that is unreplicable. The hearty aroma is almost heady, even transformative, taking us to places and times of comfort, coziness, and love.

Liz Edmunds, known as “The Food Nanny” (and one of my mentors when I began the process of starting a blog), once told a story of how freshly-baked bread actually saved her grandmother and turned another life around. She told this true tale on an episode of her BYU-TV show “The Food Nanny,” which you can watch here (beginning at 21:15). I’ll retell the story below.

FoodNanny

Her grandmother ran the post office in a tiny rural southern Utah town, and her home was adjacent to the post office. One afternoon a scraggly-looking young man came to the office but left without conducting any business. Later that day when her grandmother was home baking bread and making chili sauce, there was a knock at the door. Out of habit she yelled, “Come in!” and in walked that same young man.

He looked a bit awkward and nervous, so she sat him down and offered him a slice of freshly-baked bread. He sat and he ate as she chatted to him absently while continuing to work on the chili sauce. The man’s demeanor changed and he even went so far as to ask if she would fry him up an egg, which she then did. She continued working until eventually she noticed that the man had quietly left, and although it was an odd encounter, she didn’t think about it again.

Several years later a man came to the post office asking to speak to the grandmother. He was the young man who had showed up at her door, and he explained his actions that day. He said he came to her home with the intent of robbing the house, even harming her if necessary. But when he opened the door he was overcome by the smell of warm bread. He said he felt transported back to his own grandmother’s kitchen when she would make bread and even, yes, fry him up a couple of eggs. He was overcome by the memories and this woman’s kindness, and so instead of robbing her he decided then and there to leave and turn his life around.

And that is exactly what he did.

I can’t say that I’ve been quite so transformed, but I do indeed feel transported every time I smell freshly-baked bread — even more so at the taste. Sadly I haven’t quite mastered the art of traditional breadmaking, but I am proud to say I have come up with the next-best thing: Hearty, whole wheat bread, from mixer to table in less than three hours — no kneading or rising required. It’s all possible thanks to the magic of the slow cooker.

This is the perfect recipe to get started when your kids’ come home from school or during their afternoon nap. All you need is about 5-10 minutes to throw everything together and mix it, then pop it in the Crock Pot for a few hours and it’ll be ready by dinnertime. I highly recommend this as a family staple not only because it’s incredibly easy, delicious, and super healthy — but because bread night around your kitchen table will be the time and place your children will one day be transported back to whenever they smell freshly-baked bread.

Enjoy.

Peace, plants, and positivity,

Lindsay

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Slow Cooker Whole Wheat Bread

*See notes below for alternative methods and ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups warm milk of choice
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp dough enhancer (optional)

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the warm milk and yeast together until foamy. Let sit for a few minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl. Using the bread hook, mix on low for about 2 minutes until a nice lump of dough forms.
  3. While the dough is mixing, line a slow cooker with a sheet of parchment paper.
  4. When the dough is finished, shape it into a loaf and place on the parchment paper. Place the lid on top and cook on high for 2-3 hours, until done.

*NOTES:

  1. You can use any milk of choice, even cow’s milk. I prefer unsweetened, plain almond milk.
  2. If you’d like the recipe to be entirely vegan, you can sub unflavored coconut oil for the butter and either omit the honey or sweeten with a bit of pure maple syrup.
  3. This recipe is adapted from the clean eating recipe on mummydeals.org, and the original recipe calls for 3 cups of whole wheat flour instead of both whole wheat and white. You can make either way, but I found the entirely whole wheat loaf to be a bit dense for my family’s liking. Using a 2:1 ratio worked best for us.
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