Saturday, April 18, 2009

Bread Bonanza

My friend Mirem directed me to this blog about frugal living. The family is living within its means -- what a concept! -- and therefore having to be creative to feed themselves. One strategy is to bake all their bread.

In college I went through a bread-making obsession, but haven't done much since then. Even when the no-knead recipes started circulating, I wasn't tempted. But suddenly... I'm intrigued.

A few weeks ago I started attempting to make all the bread our family eats. We have lots of toast in the morning, and most of us eat sandwiches. So, potentially it could be a lot of money we save, right? Especially after our savings have paid off the three loaf pans I went out and bought as soon as the whole idea occurred to me... Okay, so I don't know how much money we'll actually save, but I do like the simplicity of the ingredients.

This is what I'm doing: three batches at a time. I can set up my daughter next to me, with a bowl, a cup measure and a bunch of flour options, and let her make a mixture while I do the other two.

Following Mark Bittman's recipe, it's basically 3 cups of flour, 1-1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp yeast, and 1-1/2 cups of water. You mix, let sit for four hours, then put into a loaf pan and let rise another hour. Bake for 45 minutes. So quick! So easy! So far we've used mixtures of whole wheat flour, white whole wheat flour, corn meal, ground walnuts and, for sandwich bread, some unbleached white flour. Next week I'm going to try grinding up some steel cut oats and adding those in.

The recipe is so easy. I can't believe how forgiving bread is, if you're willing to eat dense old-school hippie loaves, anyway, which we are. Why have we been kneading bread all these centuries? Schmucks!

These are loaves that would make the writers of that old school hippie cookbook Laurel's Kitchen proud. Somehow, my kids are loving them. Okay, it helps that my daughter has been putting Nocciolata (an organic type of Nutella) on hers. But my son has been right there with me, eating goat cheese-and-arugula sandwiches, and asking for turkey, pickle, and mayo sandwiches for both breakfast and lunch. And my husband and are both obsessed with the Sarabeth's Blood Orange Marmalade I got at Citarella last week.

Here's what we took to the park yesterday: nocciolata sandwiches, gruyere and arugula, radish and butter, turkey-pickle-mayo.

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