The crock pot: an alternative bread machine
by Robin Russell
How does the crock pot compare to the bread machine? Instead of upgrading to the latest bread machine model would we be better off just getting a crock pot?
I wouldn't have believed it until I tried it. When I saw the recipe called "Couldn't Be Easier Slow-Cooker Bread" I thought, "how could you get a decent loaf of bread baked in a crock pot?" But it worked! And I have to admit that the bread it produced was one of the best I'd ever tasted.
In this method of bread baking, water and a trivet are placed in the bottom of the crock. Mixed and slightly kneaded dough sits loosely covered in a glass or metal container; this container sits on the trivet inside the crock. I followed the original recipe exactly, and then experimented with spelt flour. I actually found that spelt bread turned out better in my crock pot than in my bread machine!
So, how does the crock pot compare to the bread machine? Instead of upgrading to the latest bread machine model would we be better off just getting a crock pot (or using the one that's been sitting in the cupboard getting dusty)? After using both methods I have found that there are benefits and drawbacks to both bread baking methods.
- lower initial cost
- only 15 to 20 minutes preparation time (much less than oven baking)
- does not require a special kind of yeast
- uses less energy and puts out less heat than oven baking
- quieter than a bread machine
- can make a variety of breads
- requires more preparation time than a bread machine (mixing & kneading)
- does not make bread in standard sandwich size/shape
- no "easy select" buttons for different types of bread
- method does not allow for pre-set timing
- no auto shut-off or notification when bread is done
- bread may not brown
- more clean-up required
- fastest and easiest method of bread preparation
- specific settings for different types of bread
- makes standard sized loaves
- dough setting allows for hand shaped fancy breads
- many models have a crust colour setting
- many models have a pasta dough setting
- newer models can also make jam
- more expensive to buy
- removable parts are not dishwasher safe
- care must be taken not to chip any of the non-stick baking surface
- greater chance of mechanical failure (moving parts/motor)
- not as versatile as a crock pot
If cost is a very important issue to you, the crock pot may be your best bet. I used a large 6 quart model. It does not have all the features of a bread machine, but it can make basic nutritious bread as well as a multitude of other things. You can always upgrade to a bread machine later, and your crock pot will not become redundant.
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Copyright © 1999-2012 Robin L. Russell