Tuesday, May 17, 2011

There's Nothing Like Homemade Bread

     One of the things I am learning through this crazy economy is that many tasks that used to be a regular part of family life are coming back.  Without so much money to go, go, go, families are rethinking everything and making some old things new again.  Many people are now fixing broken things instead of throwing them away and buying new things, carpooling, family game nights, hand me downs, etc.  I was excited this weekend to try out a new bread recipe and start baking my own bread each week.
     This month I am trying to get my grocery bill down to $200 and I am not doing too bad.  Here it is halfway through the month and I have only spent $128.  I have two weeks left, so that leaves me $35 each week.  I think I just might do it.  Bread, as you probably know, costs about $2.50 a loaf, but baking my own will only cost about $.37 a loaf, that is a pretty decent savings for the month.  I, of course, needed a very easy bread recipe and assumed I would be using that dusty bread machine sitting in my laundry room.  However, in my search for an easy recipe, I found this wonderful video:


      I first loved this video because of her accent, that made making the bread seem all the more fun.   I decided I could probably do this.  I had to look up the conversion of grams of flour to cups and found that 600 grams of bread flour is about 4 1/3 cups.  I also had to look up what an "airing cupboard" is and found out it is the closet where the furnace is located.  So, I used my laundry room.  There is no a/c vent in there and being in Phoenix, it is better than furnace for rising bread.  So, Saturday morning my oldest daughter and I began our bread making process...I do not have a mixer like the video, so I had to do it all by hand, but I figured it was a small workout for my arms.  Putting the dough together took about 10 minutes, we put it in the loaf pan, put a towel over it and put it in the laundry room.  An hour later, this is what we found:

We put it in the oven for 30 minutes and WOW!

     It was hot and sooo tasty.  My brother happened to stop by and I gave him a piece with butter on it, his assessment?  "That's better than anything I have bought from the store."  Woo Hoo!!!  It was so easy and delicious and it only cost about 20 minutes of my day and $.37.  The best benefit, I know exactly what is in it...no chemicals or ingredients I cannot pronounce and it made me think of my Grandma Sally.  She always had bread rising in the back room.  This is definitely one of my favorite "old things made new".  I plan to get whole wheat bread flour and try some other recipes with different flavors, honey, garlic, southwest seasoning...the possibilities are endless.  Here's the recipe:

4 1/3 C Bread Flour
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Soft Brown Sugar (helps the yeast)
1 packet of dry yeast (7 grams)
400 ml of warm water
3 tbsp of melted butter

Mix flour and half the water, add other ingredients, slowly add remaining water until all flour is off bowl and dough has a not too sticky texture, knead for five minutes, put in loaf pan.  If in a warm climate or you can use your laundry room, allow it to rise for 1 hour, if a cold climate, 3 hours.  Bake at 400 for 30 minutes.  Mmm, mmm, good!!

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