As a family of 5 it has to be said that our household knows how to go through enough bread in a year to feed a small army.
With the cost of a loaf ranging anywhere between 99 cents and $3.50 (sometimes even higher!!) it just doesn't make any sense to me to purchase it anymore, at the store!
Bread is one of those simple foods that gets a bad reputation as being labour intensive and grueling to make - but that just isn't the case! It is time consuming if you do not want to wait for it to rise and demand a sandwich RIGHT NOW, but I can assure you that the wait is well worth it both in taste AND in the monetary department!
At home we would go through a loaf of bread every day or two days if we could and that cost just adds up and even at 99 cents a loaf over the course of a year you are looking at spending well over $350 a year just on bread, which is absolutely insane!
All you have to do to make successful bread is gather together some flour, yeast, milk, water, oil and a dash of salt and VOILA! Bread is as easy as anything else on your to-do list AND the taste will get you hooked!
Here is my SIMPLE, QUICK And EASY recipe for bread, which you can jazz up or down as and how you please - any corrections please add them in a comment on this post! I know everyone has a different palette so not everyone will love this recipe, but with a tweak or two here and there, everyone can try!
What you will need:
4 cups of SELF RAISING flour
1 teaspoon of yeast
1 cup of warm water
1/3 cup of milk
1 tablespoon of butter, margarine or oil, whatever you prefer!
A dash of salt
First of all, you need to activate your yeast so put the teaspoonful of yeast into your warm water and set it aside.
In a large mixing bowl you will place your flour and salt together. Add to that your oil, butter or margarine and rub this in to the flour just roughly to get it throughout - there is no wrong or right way to do this!
When you have mixed in your "oil", you will add you milk and the water that should by now be the color of your yeast.
Mix these in using a spoon or spatula until dough begins to form, at which point you should switch to using your hands!
When a ball is formed, you will want it to look moist, but not to be sticky. If the dough is too sticky, sprinkle in a little more flour. If the dough is too dry or flaky, drizzle in a little more water until it looks shiny, but not sticky!
When you have your dough ball ready, you will have to knead it a little to get some of the air out! Kneading bread is a GREAT way to get out some of your daily stress AND to work on those muscles!
Now, after a minute or two, you are ready to let your dough rest and rise. Place it into a container or a clean bowl and cover with a clean dish towel (to keep out any bugs) and let it sit out in a warm area of your home to allow it to rise.
While leaving the dough well alone, you now have a moment to make yourself a nice cup of tea, put your feet up or clean house - whatever it is that takes your fancy! Just forget about the bread for a little while and revisit it later on!
An hour or two later, once you are nicely perked up on caffeine and ready for round 2, you will notice that your bread has risen significantly! This is a perfectly normal part of the process, and you're doing it right! But, for now, the air, needs to go!
So! Take the bread out of the container and place it on a lightly floured surface - this is the part where all those things you forgot to think about, while kneading the dough the first go around, get to be addressed on the second! Knead that dough for a minute or two and place it BACK into the container and cover to let it rest!
You will then repeat the process just ONE MORE time, so come back to the bread in an hour or two, whenever you're ready, and pick up the bread for the last time!
This third, and final time, however, you will finish by placing the bread in to the bread pan (which will need to be greased or lined) rather than back into the container! I use a glass bread pan, but any bread pan will work - you will have to keep an eye on the bread and make sure that you know the allowable time that the bread will need in the oven based on your appliance and pan type - this will become second nature to you once you get the initial idea but do not be discouraged if your bread isn't as lovely as you'd planned on your first attempt!
Once your bread has made it to the pan, let it sit, once again for about an hour, or longer if you have to run errands or work on something and come back to it after. Bop the top of the bread with the back of a spoon once or twice to release a little air, then slice a couple of times across the top of the bread with a knife - don't cut in to it too deeply, these slits are just there to allow the bread to "grow".
Place your bread in the oven and leave to bake on 350 degrees for 25 minutes, checking it halfway through for progress and "playing it by ear" - technical, I know! but all appliances do vary and it is impossible for each to cook the same bread at the same time without something going awry, so rely on your instincts! Sometimes the bread will take closer to 20 minutes to cook, other times closer to 35, so do not panic if you are somewhere in between!
When the bread is golden brown on top and your knife, when inserted into the bread comes out clean, the bread is done! Take it out of the oven and place in a safe place to cool down.
Let the bread rest in the pan to cool and come back to it (again, later!) - I usually can NOT resist trying a chunk of it while it is still hot, though, with a little butter or jam and and a cheeky smile!
When the bread is cool, I suggest slicing it into easy-go pieces so that the family does not have to have a conniption over slicing their own bread! You can also see exactly how much this loaf is going to feed and when you are likely to need more!
**TIP: sometimes turning your loaf over and cutting it from the side can make it easier to get a perfect slice rather than starting at the top!!
Your bread will be good kept in a sealed container for a couple of days and will be yummy for sandwiches, toast or even for bread pudding!
You can serve you bread alongside absolutely anything, so get baking!
There are no stabalizers in this bread and no sugar or corn syrup - it is easy to make if you don't mind the wait AND you can get creative with it - my daughter likes to make plaits or crazy shapes with hers and it turns out yummy every time!
If you want to zest up the bread a little, why not try adding a mashed banana or apple sauce to give it a little more flavour or chewiness - you can also add nuts, seeds, raisins or even chocolate for an alternative tasty treat!
I can assure you that once you start making your own bread, and have adjusted it to your own liking, you will wonder why you haven't been doing this for years! You will also make savings of well over $200 a year (if you eat anywhere near the amount we do) and you will know exactly what it is that you are consuming! As a special added bonus, you will also eliminate any packaging, which is a win for the environment too!! You just can not beat that!!
I would love to see some of your alternative recipes for bread or baking, which allow you to live a more frugal, yet equally as tasty life on a day to day basis, so please do leave those comments!!