Difficulty Level Easy
We did it. My daughter Emma and I went the entire month of May without purchasing a single loaf of bread, any muffins or cookies. We started the challenge after noticing how much more expensive bread was becoming. After the first week I figured that it would have cost us close to $50.00 to buy our baking output, which actually cost us $11.00 to make. We certainly baked more that week than the subsequent weeks, but we still managed to bake enough to keep us in bread, with only a couple of mornings with a bare cupboard. I don't know how much money I saved over the course of the month, but it was probably a fair amount. It stands to reason, cooking your own dinner is less expensive than take-out or going to a restaurant, so it works the same way for bread.
Not only did we save a lot of money, we had some really delicious bread. Bread is one of those things that is so satisfying to make and you have a real sense of accomplishment when you take it out of the oven. We've decided that we are going to bake bread at least once a week because it was such a pleasurable experience. Variations on the types of bread you can make are endless and we've barely scratched the surface of things we would like to try to make. We still haven't made the bagels we keep promising my husband, but we will. The first loaf of bread that I bought one morning a few days ago was a baguette from our local Patisserie and we ate it dipped in olive oil.
The whole wheat bread that I made this week is a real keeper. It made two loaves of wonderful herb infused bread. The onions kept the bread moist, but didn't overpower the flavour at all. The recipe calls for a combination of whole wheat and all-purpose, but I ended up making it all whole wheat, so it was a bit denser than it might otherwise have been. It has a lot of yeast in it, so the rising time was quite a bit shorter than usual.
|3 tbsp||olive oil|
|1 cup||finely chopped onion|
|3/4 cup||lukewarm water|
|1 tbsp||unsulfured molasses|
|4 1/2 tsp||active dry yeast|
|1 tbsp||dried basil|
|1/2 tsp||dried oregano|
|1/2 tsp||dried thyme|
|2 cups||whole wheat flour|
|1 1/2 ‑ 2 cups||unbleached all-purpose flour|
- In a small nonstick skillet, heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sautée for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until it is golden in colour.
- In a large bowl, combine the lukewarm water and the molasses. Sprinkle the yeast over the liquid. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes, until foamy. Stir in the milk, egg, onion (with the cooking oil) and the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil. Stir in the salt, herbs and whole wheat flour until blended. Stir in 1 cup of the all-purpose flour. Stir in 1/2 cup more of the all-purpose flour until dough gathers easily into a ball. On a lightly floured board, knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic, adding additional flour, if needed.
- Lightly grease a large bowl with butter or oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it over to coat the dough . Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place for 30-45 minutes, unt5il doubled in size. Punch the dough down and shape it into two loaves with rounded tops. Place the loaves in lightly greased 8 x 4" loaf pans. Cover the pans with the damp towel and let the dough rise for 30 - 45 minutes, until doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 375F. Bake the bread for 25-35 minutes, until it is golden brown. Transfer the loaves from the pans to wire racks to cool completely.
From The New American Plate Cookbook