When it comes to home cooking, there are few things that bring as much joy as a loaf of homemade bread. Even just the smell is comforting! But with some recipes taking multiple days to produce, and the bulking and the proofing, undertaking a bread baking project can seem daunting. (Not to mention the problem of heating your oven to 450°F in the height of summer.) But homemade bread can be really easy! (And still delicious.) This version has no rising time, bakes in the slow cooker so it doesn’t heat up your kitchen, and is infused with the flavor of herby pesto. So go get out that crockpot!
The dough starts as many doughs do, with yeast, warm water, and a little bit of sugar for the yeast to feed on. That’s mixed with basic all-purpose flour to form a craggy dough and pesto and olive oil are mixed in for some wonderful additional flavor.
From there, you knead the dough for just a few minutes and then pop it into a parchment lined slow cooker. Parmesan and dried basil get sprinkled over the top, which adds a nice crunch and an extra pop of herbiness. The bread cooks for about two hours on high. Without the high heat of a regular oven, there isn’t a ton of rise, but this bread still has a nice, moist crumb. You’ll want to let the bread rest for about twenty minutes before you slice into it just to make sure it’s had a chance to finish cooking and to avoid a gummy center.
Coming out of the slow cooker, the crust will be fairly soft. If you want a crunchier exterior, all you have to do is pop it under the broiler in your oven for a couple of minutes to brown the outside (and that sprinkle of Parmesan). Slather a slice with a little butter or even a little more pesto and enjoy!
Slow Cooker Pesto Bread
Serves 6-8; 15 minutes active, 2 hours inactive
- 1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
- 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup basil pesto
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- dried basil, for topping
- Parmesan cheese, finely grated, for topping
- Line the insert of a 6-qt slow cooker with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine yeast, water, and sugar, and stir to combine.
- Add flour, olive oil, pesto, and salt, and stir until a shaggy dough starts to form.
- Remove dough to a floured surface and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
- Shape dough into a ball and place in parchment-lined slow cooker. Sprinkle evenly with dried basil and Parmesan cheese.
- Cover and cook on high for 2 hours. Bottom should be golden brown and internal temperature should read 200°F.
- If you desire a more browned effect on the top, place on a parchment lined baking sheet and broil in oven for 2-3 minutes.
- Let cool on wire rack 20 minutes before slicing and serving. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Diethood.