For today’s Frugal Friday, lets talk about bread, shall we?
As in making it.
Making bread is something I started doing years ago, when Tazzie was a baby. Part of it was I was feeling all domesticated, and part of it was that making bread is a fantastic stress reliever. And, when bread is about $2 a loaf, it’s a great place to save money. A 20 lb bag of flour I can get on sale for $9. Yeast is about $6.And that will last us two months or so, considering we do other baking with the flour. Yeast I only have to buy 2-3 times a year. And, bonus! It’s dairy free!
Making bread is a funny thing. Folks seem overly impressed with the idea, and at the same time, daunted. It’s really not a hard thing to do. It takes physical effort, which is why the bread making baton has passed to Diva (you can’t knead bread one-handed) but really, it’s not a skill laden endeavour. It saves a bit on money, since we go through a loaf of bread a day or so, and doesn’t have all the chemicals and such that store bought bread does. We find it more filling as well.
So, here’s how to make bread:
4 cups of warm water (Not hot. Warm. Too hot, and you’ll kill the yeast, too cold and it won’t ‘wake up’. Warm. I don’t bother with a thermometer, warm is warm, k?)
1/3 cup of sugar
4 tsp of dry yeast. (Not the bread maker yeast, regular dry yeast)
1 tbsp of salt
1/3 cup of vegetable oil
12 cups of flour (white, or half whole wheat, half white. I find all whole wheat can be very dense, and harder to work with, but you can do it)
And that’s it for ingredients. Try comparing the list of ingredients on your store-bought bread to that. Pretty shocking, isn’t it? The thing with store-bought bread is they need to make it last on the shelf. Home made bread, that’s not a concern, because you can stick it in the freezer.
Now, the recipe I’ve listed makes four loaves at a time. Frankly, one loaf at a time would be an exercise in futility here.
Biggest mixing bowl you have. If you don’t have one big enough for all the ingredients, you can use a pot, or plastic container. You just need something large enough to hold all the ingredients.
4 bread pans
Clean Tea towel (or kitchen towel, whatever you call it in your house)
Wooden spoon/rubber spatula/large kitchen spoon (you know, it’s not a ladle, but not an eating spoon? That thing)
Ok. So, first things first. 4 cups of warm water in the bowl. Add in the sugar. Sprinkle the yeast on top. Leave it alone for about 5 minutes or so. You’ll be able to see, and smell the yeast waking up and dissolving. Add in salt, and oil. Then, I add in flour, about 2 cups at a time, stirring the mix together, until it’s too stiff to work with a wooden spoon/rubber spatula/large kitchen spoon. Time to use your hands, and mix in all the flour. If it’s too dry, and the flour isn’t mixing in, add a dribble of water at a time, until you can get all the flour mixed in, but be careful, because you don’t want the dough all sticky either. (If it gets too sticky, you need to add in a bit more flour. Just sprinkle on a bit, work it in, until the dough isn’t sticky anymore).
Here’s where the physical effort comes in. Take the dough out of the bowl and put it on a clean surface, either table or counter top. Set a timer, if you have one, or take note of the time. You are now going to knead the bread for 10 minutes. (If dough gets sticky, add in a bit of flour). Ten minutes doesn’t sound like much, but believe me, the first few times you make bread, your arms are going to be tired! Kneading is why making bread is a great stress reliever. You knead, pound, stretch the dough…the more you work it during those 10 minutes, the better. Mother in law tick you off? Kids misbehaving? Argument with your spouse? Pound the crud out of bread dough. Trust me, it works.
Ok. Now you’ve gotten out your stress and kneaded the dough for ten minutes. Wash and dry the original mixing bowl. Put the dough in, and coat it in 2 tbsp of vegetable oil. Cover it in a clean tea towel or plastic wrap, and place it somewhere warm (room temp) where kids and pets can’t get at it. Let it rise until its doubled in size. I find that takes about two hours.
Once dough has risen, punch it down, by literally punching the dough in the centre. Oil your bread pans. I do this by pouring some oil on paper towel, and wiping the insides of the bread pan. Divide dough into four equal parts, and place in pans. Cover the pans with either plastic wrap or tea towel, and let it rise again, for about an hour.
Heat oven to 350. I bake all four loaves at once, for about half an hour, forty minutes. The tops of the bread should be nicely brown, and when you tap on the bottom of the pan, it should make a hollow sound. Remove bread from pans, and allow to cool, before wrapping in plastic wrap, or putting in saved bread bags. Make sure its cool, or you’ll trap steam and end up with wet and mouldy bread.
Now, around here, that first loaf is devoured warm. I do leave one loaf out, and the other two in the freezer, because homemade bread doesn’t have the preservatives and such in it that store-bought does, so it WILL go bad faster.
And there you have it. Homemade bread.