Thursday, August 25, 2011

Baking Bread and Saving Cash

I have fallen in love with baking my own bread again.  I found a fairly simple bread recipe and then turned it in to the simplest, most versatile, quick, no fancy machines required bread recipe.  With my recipe, I have made french bread, calzones, and dinner rolls.  I have no doubt that this bread could also be used as pizza crust, sandwich bread, sweet bread--monkey bread, cinnamon rolls, etc.
All you need to make this bread, is a bowl, a spoon, a 1 cup measuring cup, a 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon, piece of plastic wrap, a baking sheet, and an oven.
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/4 cup warm-hot water
1 teaspoon salt (I've forgotten to add this on occasion and it still turns out well)
3 1/2 cups flour+about 1-2 tablespoons for the baking sheet (I use King Arthur All Purpose flour)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil (I don't measure this, just pour some in)
How To
In a large bowl add the yeast and sugar (the yeast feeds on the sugar--my kids LOVE watching this) and the warm-hot water.  Stir it around a bit and let it sit for 3-10 minutes.

Next add the flour and salt and some olive oil. 

Use that spoon again to mix it all up.  I don't use the spoon too long, just to start pulling it all together. 

Then use your hands to mix/knead the dough in the bowl for a minute or so. Form a large ball with the dough.
 At this point you can either spray the ball with some olive oil or brush some olive oil on using your hands. Then take your piece of plastic wrap and cover the top of the bowl.
Now leave the bowl in a warm spot for about an hour.  I stick mine in the oven with the light on.  Take a minute to wash your spoon, measuring cup, and measuring spoon, then prep your baking pan--just toss a bit of flour on there and shake it around. 
This pan has too much flour on it, but it was also the second time for me to use it to bake the bread that day.
 Then read a magazine, fold a couple loads of laundry, pick the kids up from school, prep dinner--you know, however you want to spend an hour. Then after an hour check out our bread dough...
It has pretty much doubled in size.  Also, smell that yumminess!  DON'T THROW AWAY YOUR PLASTIC, just fold it in half so you can use it again in a few minutes. Now you have to decide what you want to make with your bread dough.  This time I made 2 French loaves that we cut in half for meatball subs.
Divide the dough in two (if making rolls, this dough makes 12-15 dinner rolls) and stretch it out and dust it with a bit of flour from the pan.  Then loosely roll each loaf piece and tuck the seam under the bottom.
If you want to be fancy, cut a few slashes in the top of each loaf, and brush with a beaten egg to have the bread brown up during the cooking.  I don't do this because I like to use my eggs for other things--scrambled eggs, french toast, omelettes, other baking.
Cover the loaves (I don't always do this covering step) with your piece of plastic (I do save my plastic folded in 1/4s so that I can reuse it several times since for me it never touches the dough).  Let the dough rise on the baking sheet on the counter a second time.  This time though the rise time is only 20 minutes.  I don't always let it rise for the full 20 minutes and it still turns out just fine.
While the bread is going through this second rise, heat the oven to 375.  Bake the loaves for 20 minutes.  I cook the smaller dinner rolls for 15-17 minutes and the calzones for 20-22 minutes.  Just watch your bread.
These loaves are a little light, but I needed to go pick the boys up from school.  What I did to brown them up some was turn the oven off and put them back in while I was gone.  They turned out beautifully and tasted fabulous.
This bread is so cheap and easy to throw together and as a bonus it is dairy free! (I'll have to play with it to see if I can make it gluten free too.)  Give it a try.


  1. Thanks for sharing! It was like Baking for Dummies, which is EXACTLY what I need! I'm going to try and make this today. I also like that you warn ahead of time not to throw away the plastic wrap - I would have.

  2. Awesome! I love making my own bread but primarily use recipes requiring kneading. Not that I can't knead, but I don't always want to. I will totally try this next time. Thanks Erin!

  3. Since I've been making this bread typically at least once a week, but usually 2-3 I've made a couple of changes. I add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil instead of the 1-2. I don't always let it do the second rise completely. I just spray my cookie sheet with olive oil before putting the dough on it instead of using more flour.



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