Learn how to make Slow Cooker Sourdough Bread. This recipe makes utterly delicious, crusty, Malted Grain Sourdough Bread and saves you money on energy costs without compromising on quality! You can of course adapt the recipe to use any combination of bread flours that you have.
I recently took up making sourdough bread under the virtual guidance of the lovely Elaine over at Foodbod Sourdough as I wanted to eat more gut friendly food.
With the recent hikes in energy prices and future ones on the horizon due to what’s going on in the world right now, I decided to develop a sourdough bread recipe for the slow cooker.There are other slow cooker sourdough recipes out there but none of them embrace the beauty of conventional sourdough. Scoring is an integral part to the art of sourdough making so it wasn’t an area I was willing to compromise on. As we eat with our eyes I feel its important for food look good not just taste good.
I also wanted to avoid having to put the finished loaf under the grill (broiler) as that would defeat the object of saving money on energy costs.
Hence, I developed a malted grain loaf using strong malted grain flour (Matthews Cotswold Crunch) and strong white flour which requires no additional browning. It tastes out of this world good and have a lovely crust. You just won’t get an “ear” like conventional sourdough.
You could use wholemeal or other brown flours in place of the malted grain flour but you’ll likely need to adapt the amount of water.
Suggested Baking Schedule (alter timings to suit)
- 10pm Feed sourdough starter
- 7am Mix ingredients to form a dough then cover and rest for one hour. (Autolyse)
- 8am 1st set of stretch and folds then cover and rest for 30 minutes.
- 8.30am 2nd set of stretch and folds then cover and rest for 30 minutes.
- 9am 3rd set of stretch and folds then cover and rest for 30 minutes.
- 9.30am 4th set of stretch and folds followed by cover and prove for approximately 8 – 14 hours.
- 5.30 – 11.30pm Transfer dough to banneton, cover and put in fridge overnight. (3 – 24 hrs fine).
- 8am Transfer dough to slow cooker and decorate with lame. Place tea towel under lid and cook for 2 hours on high.
- 10am Remove lid and check sourdough is baked.
How to make Slow Cooker Sourdough Bread (step-by-step)
- Gather together the ingredients: active starter (fed the night before), cooled boiled or filtered water, strong white flour, strong malted grain flour, salt and rice flour.
- Weigh the water and starter into a large glass bowl.
- Mix together with a Danish whisk or fork.
- Weigh the flours and salt into the bowl.
- Mix thoroughly with a Danish whisk or fork.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a dough scraper and form a rough ball of dough. Don’t knead.
- Cover and allow to rest for 1 hour (dough will spread out). This mixing and resting is the autolyse stage.
- Start first set of stretches and folds turning the bowl and repeating 25 – 40 times, using a dough scraper or wetted hand. Cover & rest for 30 minutes. Repeat this process 3 more times with half the pulls and folds.
- After the last set of pulls and folds, cover the bowl and leave to proof.
- The dough will double in size. This can take between 8 – 14 hours but will depend on the temperature of the room. A warm environment will proof quicker and a cold one will proof slower.
- Perform once last short set of pulls and folds.
- To form a tight ball of dough.
- Prepare banneton by dusting with rice flour. Turn bowl upside down and allow dough to drop onto your hand that’s holding the dough scraper.
- Place dough face down into banneton (seam side up).
- Dust dough with more rice flour pulling back the sides to make sure no areas stick.
- Cover banneton and place in fridge to cold prove overnight (or minimum of 3 hrs if using own timings).
- Remove the proofed dough from the fridge.
- Invert dough onto a board lined with 2 sheets of baking paper.
- Dust the top of the dough with more rice flour. This helps with the pattern and crust formation
- Lift the baking paper and dough into the slow cooker and flatten paper away from dough. Score a pattern into the dough with a lame or scalpel.
- Place lid on slow cooker with a folded tea towel underneath (to prevent condensation dripping down). Cook on high for 2 hours.
- To test if sourdough bread is done, press the top of the loaf with a finger and it should spring back. Tap the underside of the loaf with your fingernails and it should sound tiny (not thud). If you have a digital thermometer test that the temperature has reached a minimum of 93C.
- Place sourdough loaf on a wire rack to cool for 2 – 3 hrs.
- Once fully cool, slice and enjoy!
Why make Sourdough Bread in a Slow Cooker (Crockpot)?
- Saves on electricity cost. It’s about 40% cheaper to bake sourdough bread in the slow cooker than the oven.
- Saves you from heating up the kitchen with an oven on hot days.
- Useful if you are without a kitchen due to a refit.
- Great for a holiday home or caravan without a large oven, Dutch oven etc.
- You share a kitchen.
- You love sourdough but your teeth struggle with the jagged, hard outer crust of oven baked sourdough.
What are the benefits of making sourdough bread?
- Sourdough has many health benefits from improved gut health, increased nutrition and helps to keep blood sugar in the healthy range.
- Sourdough baking is great for improving mental health. It’s creative and very rewarding.
- Baking your own sourdough saves you money as shop bought sourdough tends to be quite expensive and artisan sourdough even more so.
- Sourdough bread uses no yeast so you’ll never be unable to make bread as long as you have flour, water and salt.
- Unlike store bought bread, it contains no preservatives.
- It tastes incredible.
Is Sourdough Bread hard to make?
Yes and no! I would say that sourdough is incredibly forgiving. Even when you think things are not 100% as they should be, you still end up with delicious sourdough bread. I have overproved, underproved, had starter that wasn’t as active as it could be but the bread has always been edible. Although leaving out the salt wasn’t my finest moment! The key is to get to know how your sourdough reacts to your surroundings which will happen with practice.
Does Sourdough behave the same way for everyone?
No. The amount of water you need and the time it takes for your sourdough to prove will vary from one household and country to the next as the internal and external temperature will be different for everyone. You will also notice a difference between summer & winter with warm weather speeding things up and cold weather slowing things down.
What size slow cooker is best to make Slow Cooker Sourdough?
A 6.5 litre sized slow cooker is best but if you only have a 3.5 litre then that can be used but the sides of the loaf will be harder and the top softer. If using a small slow cooker then you have to use an oval shaped banneton.
What Banneton shape is best to make Slow Cooker Sourdough Bread?
An oval shaped banneton is best but you can use a round one in a 6.5 L slow cooker. If you only have a 3.5 L slow cooker then you’ll need to use an oval banneton so that the dough fits. Of course if you have a round slow cooker then use a round banneton.
Can you use just strong white flour in this Slow Cooker Sourdough Recipe?
You can but wholegrain flours or blends lend themselves better to this process as the finished loaf is naturally golden. If you want to use purely white flour then turn the loaf over halfway through the cooking time or finish off under a grill (broiler).
Can you make other types of loaves in the slow cooker?
Yes, you can bake other sourdoughs, yeasted breads and soda breads in the slow cooker. Just adjust the timing to suit the size and type of loaf if necessary.
You could use wholemeal or other brown flours in place of the malted grain flour in this sourdough loaf but you’ll likely need to increase the amount of water.
Other Sourdough Recipes you could bake in a Slow Cooker (Crockpot)
- Rye Sourdough Bread
- Walnut & Raisin Sourdough Bread
- Cinnamon Raisin Sourdough Bread
- Sourdough Bauernbrot (German Farmers Bread)
- Sage and Caramelised Onion Sourdough Bread
- Coffee Sourdough Bread with Maple Infused Dates
- Sourdough Bread with Caraway Seeds & Molasses
Other Bread Recipes you could bake in a Slow Cooker
- Walnutty Wholemeal Bread
- Olive & Parmesan Cob Loaf
- Easy Cheesy Chilli Cob
- Easy Cheesy Jalapeno Soda Bread
- Wholemeal Cheddar & Apple Chutney Soda Bread with Cider
Frequently asked Questions
How long does the sourdough bread need to cool before slicing?
Sourdough continues cooking once out of the oven and releases steam towards the outside of the loaf. Therefore, you need to allow the loaf to cool completely before cutting or it will become gummy.
Wholegrain sourdough loaves take longer than white ones to cool so leave this loaf to cool completely which can take 2 – 3 hours .
What can you use if you don’t have a Banneton (proving basket)?
You can use a similar sized bowl or bread basket (see equipment list for sizes). Just line the vessel with a tea towel and dust liberally with rice flour to prevent sticking.
How should you store sourdough?
I keep my sourdough bread at room temperature with the cut side down in a lidded pot or the slow cooker I baked it in. You could also keep it in a reusable plastic bag. You just don’t want it loose in an open bread bin or it will go stale and hard.
Can you freeze sourdough?
Yes, sourdough freezes well. You can either freeze whole or sliced in a resealable plastic bag. Then take slices from the freezer as you need them.
How long will Sourdough keep?
Sourdough is best eaten within 24 hrs and after that it makes great toast. It will keep for about 4 – 5 days if stored properly
I’m sure you’ll love this Slow Cooker Sourdough recipe as much as we do, my family are addicted to it! Do leave a comment and rating when you make it as I love hearing your feedback!
You can also share your sourdough with me by tagging @FabFood4All on Instagram or any other social media.
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Slow Cooker Sourdough Bread
- Digital scales
- Large shallow glass bowl
- Danish whisk or fork
- Banneton - oval 25 cm (10 inch) or round 21cm (8.5 inch)
- 6.5 L Slow Cooker (Crockpot) Oval but round can be used with round banneton.
- Dusting wand
- Non-stick baking paper
- Bread lame or scalpel
- 30 g white strong flour
- 30 g tepid water boiled and cooled or filtered
- 55 g starter active (bubbly)
- 330 g tepid water boiled and cooled or filtered
- 200 g white strong flour
- 300 g strong malted grain bread flour I use Matthews Cotswold Crunch
- 8 g salt flakes
- rice flour I use brown rice flour
- Start by feeding your starter around 10pm with 30g of tepid cooled boiled or filtered water and 30g strong white flour and leave on the kitchen counter with lid ajar. (Should virtually double and be bubbly by the morning).
- In the morning (around 7 am) put together the dough by weighing out 330g of tepid water and 55g of bubbly, active starter into a large glass bowl. Agitate to break up with a Danish whisk or fork.
- Zero the scales and add 200g strong white flour, 300g strong malted grain flour and 8g of salt flakes.
- Mix to a dough with a Danish whisk or fork. If the dough does not absorb all the flour add a little more water until it does. (More likely if using different flour and especially wholemeal).
- Scrape down the sides with a dough scraper and mix the scrapings into the dough to form a rough ball shape. (Do not “knead” at this point, you’re just bringing the dough together).
- Cover the bowl with a plate (I use glass) or you could use a glass pan lid and leave for 1 hour to rest at room temperature. The dough will spread out. This initial mixing and resting is known as the autolyse method.
- Use a wetted hand or a dough scraper (my preference) to perform the first set of pulls and folds which will activate the gluten. Pull the dough up from one side and fold across to the opposite side turning the bowl as you go. Do this roughly 25 – 40 times until your dough comes together as a smooth ball that holds its shape. Takes about a minute or so. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- Repeat the pulls and folds 3 more times every 30 minutes. You’ll only need to do half as many folds to get a ball of dough that holds it shape. You’ll feel the tension as the dough won’t want to stretch any more.
- After the final set of pulls and folds cover the bowl again and leave the dough to prove (proof) and double in size (will take on a puffy, domed appearance). This will take roughly 8 – 14 hours depending on the temperature of your room but there is no set time. Be patient. (Don't be tempted to put in a warm place eg airing cupboard and overprove which will result in lots of bubbles on the surface).
- Prepare an oval banneton by dusting the inside with rice flour.
- The dough should be proofed by around 8 pm – midnight (it will depend on your room temperature, mine takes 12 - 14 hours as pretty cold right now). Then do one final set of pulls and folds in order to form a ball of dough with surface tension.
- Tip the bowl upside down dropping the dough onto a dough scraper in your hand (helps keep an oval shape) and place it seam side up into an oval banneton.
- Dust the top and sides of the dough with rice flour (lifting away from the banneton) to prevent the dough sticking.
- Cover the banneton with its cloth cover (if it has one) or use an upturned bowl and place in the fridge to cold prove overnight. If making at another time of day this prove should be for a minimum of 3 hrs and up to 24 hrs. (The longer the time the more sour the dough will be).
- The next morning, invert the banneton onto a board lined with 2 sheets of baking paper. Dust the dough with more rice flour.
- Then use the baking paper as handles to lower the dough into a large 6.5 L slow cooker (Crockpot). Press the paper away from the edges of the dough to avoid indents.
- Use a bread lame or scalpel to score a pattern into the dough. (Don’t cut too deeply as this will just encourage the dough to spread).
- Place a folded tea towel over the slow cooker and place lid on top. Then fold the edges back onto the lid. (This stops condensation from dripping onto your loaf).
- Turn the slow cooker onto High and time for 2 hours. (If you have a metal lined slow cooker then set for 1 hour 45 minutes).
- Open up the slow cooker and check that the sourdough is baked. by pressing a finger gently into the top of the loaf. It should spring back. Tap the base of the loaf with your fingernails and there should be a hollow tapping sound ie not doughy. If you have a digital thermometer the temperature should be a minimum of 93°C (mine have been between 96 - 100°C).
- If the loaf isn’t ready then continue cooking for another 15 – 30 minutes maximum.
- Once ready, lift the sourdough loaf out with the baking paper and place just the loaf onto a wire rack.
- Allow to cool completely for 2 – 3 hours before slicing. Slicing whilst still warm will result in a gummy loaf. Enjoy!
- This sourdough bread recipe works best in a 6.5 L slow cooker (Crockpot) but if you don’t have one you can use a 3.5 L one. If using the 3.5 L slow cooker the top of the loaf will be softer so to avoid that turn the loaf upside down halfway through cooking or finish off under grill (broiler).
- For the best result use an oval sized banneton and this is only option for the 3.5 L sized slow cooker.
- Do not use greaseproof paper but baking paper which you can re-use.
- If you find your slow cooker is giving a hard base to the sourdough loaf you can try adding a dusting of semolina to the base of the slow cooker.
- You don’t have to stick to my timings you may find they don’t work for you so starting late afternoon is another option. You'll do the bulk ferment overnight and the cold prove in the fridge during the day.