I love freshly made bread. I love kneading the dough, shaping the loaf, the way my kitchen smells while it's baking and finally, that first delicious bite...Slathered with butter and dripping with honey. Luckily for me, making bread is both easy and frugal.
I discovered the joy of bread baking when I first got married. My husband had just joined the military and he was making about $1500 per month before taxes. I was pregnant and we didn't have any furniture or a car or really anything to speak of, except for each other. I knew that if we were ever going to have the things we wanted for us and our baby, I was going to have to get really frugal, really fast. I started that penny pinching right in the kitchen.
Baking bread is probably one of the best and most frugal things you can do in the kitchen. Store bought bread can't begin to compare in taste or price or even in health benefits. Homemade bread has no preservatives or artificial ingredients. Store bought bread is positively SATURATED with these harmful substances and we as consumers pay a premium for the privilege of eating them. Do yourself a favor and enjoy real, wholesome bread instead of chemical saturated Styrofoam. Here are some recipes to get you started!
Basic sandwich bread
2C warm water
1/3C dry milk
1 1/2tsp salt
Mix water, dry milk, sugar and oil together in a large bowl. Sprinkle yeast on top and let sit for 5 minutes. Add flour and salt and mix well until dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Turn dough out onto a floured counter and knead for 10 minutes, adding more flour as necessary to keep dough from sticking. Place dough back in bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in bulk (1-2 hours). Turn dough out on counter and punch down. Let dough rest for 10 minutes. Divide dough in half and shape into 2 loaves. Place loaves in 2 greased loaf pans, cover and let rise for 45 minutes. Bake @350 for 40 minutes. Remove loaves from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove from loaf pans and cool on a wire rack. This bread makes awesome sandwiches!
Sponge (dough starter) ingredients
1C bread flour
3Tbsp wheat germ
1tsp honey or sugar
1 1/3C warm water
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together and whisk for 2 minutes. The batter should be very smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. In a different bowl, mix together 2C bread flour, 1/2tsp yeast and 1 1/2tsp salt. Mix the yeast into the flour before adding the salt, because the salt will kill the yeast if it comes into direct contact with it. Pour the flour mixture over the sponge. DO NOT MIX IN. Cover the bowl and let sit for 4 hours at room temperature.
Mix the flour mixture into the sponge with a large wooden spoon. Knead the dough in the bowl until it comes together. Turn the dough out onto a floured counter and knead for a few minutes. Turn the bowl upside down over the dough and let sit for 20 minutes. This will make the dough less sticky. Remove the bowl and knead for another 5-10 minutes, adding more flour to prevent sticking, if needed.
Place the dough in a large bowl and let it rise for 45 minutes. Press the dough down, fold it in half and then in half again, rounding the edges. Let the dough rise for 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 475. Turn the dough out onto a floured counter and press down on it to flatten it slightly. Round the dough into a ball and set it onto a greased baking sheet. Invert a large bowl over the shaped dough and let it rise for 1 hour. Remove the bowl and place the dough on the baking sheet in the oven. Bake @475 for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to 425 and continue baking for 20 minutes. Remove bread to a wire rack and allow to cool before cutting. This bread is wonderful eaten fresh from the oven and slathered with butter and honey or butter and preserves.
Flax seed loaf
3Call purpose flour
1 1/2C whole wheat flour
1/2C ground flax seed
1 1/4tsp yeast
2Tbsp honey or sugar
1 3/4C warm water
In a large bowl, stir together the water, honey, flax seed and yeast. Add the flours and salt, stirring until all the flour is moistened. Knead in the bowl until the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a floured counter and knead for 10 minutes, adding some more flour to prevent sticking, if needed.
Place the dough in a large bowl, cover and let rise for 1 hour. Turn the dough onto a floured counter and punch down. Shape into a loaf and transfer to a greased loaf pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 45 minutes. Bake @375 for40-50 minutes. Remove from the oven and unmold bread onto a wire rack. Allow to cool before cutting. We like to eat this bread with peanut butter and blackberry preserves.