Prep: 5 Mins | Total: 3Hrs 50 Mins
Serves: 1 (1 pound) loaf
¾ – 1 Cup Lukewarm water (you can use cold water, but it will take the dough longer to rise. DO NOT use water hotter than 115°F/46°C or you will begin to kill the yeast)
1 teaspoon Yeast (you can use any kind of yeast including: instant, “quick,” rapid rise, bread machine, active dry, or fresh cake yeast — if you use cake yeast you’ll need about ½ ounce)
2 Cups All-purpose flour (9.5 ounces)
1 – 1½ Teaspoons Kosher Salt (to taste)
2 Tablespoons Fresh chopped rosemary (Optional)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil (Optional)
Coarse sea salt (Optional) (garnish)
In a large mixing bowl or large lidded container add ¾ cup water and 1 teaspoon of yeast. (If you’re using active or fresh yeast, allow the yeast to sit for 5 minutes.) Add the flour, salt, rosemary, and olive oil (if using).
Stir with a long-handled wooden spoon or your hands until all of the flour is incorporated into the dough (it will be a wet, rough dough). Alternatively, you can mix the dough in a stand mixer for 2-3 minutes or just until the dough comes together. If the dough seems a little dry after mixing, add 1 more tablespoon of water at a time, and mix until it’s incorporated into the dough. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or the container lid and allow it to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. (You can add a little olive oil to the bowl to prevent the dough from sticking.)
After 30 minutes, wet your hands with water and fold the dough in half over itself a few times (wet hands will help prevent the dough from sticking). Cover the dough, allow it to sit for an additional 30 minutes, and repeat the dough folding process.
Cover the dough again and allow it to sit until doubled in volume, about 1-3 hours depending on the ambient temperature in the room. (In warmer room temperatures the dough will rise more quickly, and in cooler room temperatures the dough will rise more slowly). If you want, you can place the dough in the refrigerator after folding. The yeast will continue to work even in the refrigerator, but will take 2-3 times as long to double in volume.
After the dough has doubled in volume, lightly flour your work surface and turn the dough out onto it. Sprinkle the top of dough with flour, and use your hands to form the dough into a ball. Place two pieces of parchment paper into an X, and place the ball of dough in the middle of the parchment paper. Brush the top with olive oil, and sprinkle it with the remaining chopped rosemary. Lift the ends of the parchment paper to transfer the dough to your cold slow cooker, cover the top with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rest for at least 40 minutes or up to 90 minutes.
Remove the plastic wrap, put on the slow cooker lid, and turn the slow cooker on to high heat. Cook the bread for 1-2 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 190°F/88°C. (You may need to adjust the time according to your slow cooker, because not all slow cookers behave the same. You should keep an eye on the loaf after about 45 minutes to make sure it is not over-browning on the bottom or sides.) When the bread is done, the bottom crust will be crisp, but the top of the loaf will remain quite soft. If you would like your loaf golden brown or with a crispier crust, place the finished bread under the broiler until it’s browned to your liking, about 5 minutes.