Thursday, January 26, 2012

0 What goes well with home made soups? Home made bread!

Not only does it taste good, it makes your home smell good too. And it's very cheap to make – I figure this recipe for French bread costs about 45 cents a loaf. If you use a sour dough starter it lowers the cost of a loaf of French bread to about 17 cents. Tell me where you can buy a loaf of bread for that price.

Now bread is really simple to make, especially a yeast bread. But it does require a little bit of muscle and some time. A good yeast bread is going to require about 10 minutes of kneading on the first rise and a couple of minutes kneading on the second rise, so there is your muscle. Time wise, you're talking about 5 minutes to mix ingredient, 10 minutes to knead, 30 minutes to rise, 2 minutes to punch down, 10 minutes to rest, 5 minutes to shape, 30 minutes to rise and 25 minutes to bake. Total time: 1 hr, 57 minutes, but you're only involved in about 20-25 minutes of that time – the rest of the time the bread is just sitting there doing it's thing.

French Bread
1 pkg active dry yeast
1 ½ tsp sugar
1 ¼ c warm water
1 ½ tsp oil or shortening
½ – 1 tsp salt
3 ½ c flour
corn meal

In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast and sugar over warm water; stir until dissolved. Add oil/shortening, salt and about 2 cups of flour.

Using a wooden spoon mix until well blended, about 2 minutes. Stir in additional flour to make a moderately stiff dough. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

Place in a large, greased bowl, turning over dough so that the top is greased. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Punch down dough, divide in half, cover and let rest 10 minutes. Next, on a lightly floured surface, flatten one half into an oval, about 12” x 4”. Fold in half length-wise; repeat flattening and folding once more. Pinch seam to seal. With palms of hands, roll dough into a 15” long loaf. Repeat with the other half.

Grease a large baking sheet and sprinkle with corn meal. Place loaves, seam side down and 3” apart on prepared sheet. Cover and let rise 30 minutes, or until doubled.

Diagonally slash each loaf, crosswise about 1/4” deep, 3 times. Brush or mist loaves with water.

On lowest rack in 400 degree oven, place a large shallow roasting pan filled with 1” boiling water. Bake loaves on middle rack of oven for 15 minutes.

Brush or mist loaves with water; remove pan of water from oven. Bake 10 minutes more, or until loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Immediately remove from baking sheet and cool on racks.

So for about 45 cents per loaf and 20-25 minutes of your time, you've got 2 beautiful, tasty, wonderfully smelling loaves of french bread. I believe that a similar bread baked from some kind of a mix, with who knows what kind of ingredients in it, can be had for about $2 a loaf at your local grocery store. So for 20-25 minutes worth of work, you can save $3.55!

Stay tuned for a sour dough and other bread recipes...

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