If Tom comes home with a bag of store-bought bread, he gets (at least) a glare, and usually Some Words. I think it's happened only three or four times since last Fall.
I'd have to say it all started with Jakob and Karin Herrman... German friends of mine from my early 20's. Karin was a full-time, stay-at-home-wife. They didn't have kids; didn't want them. She was an amazing homemaker. I was awestruck at how she made fresh bread, everyday, without a recipe, just "by feel".
Then, about five years ago, Becky showed me to a website about frugality in the kitchen (Hillbilly Housewife). There was a list of Store Bought Convenience Foods that got me thinking. Store bought bread was listed as a "Convenience Food"?!? This idea shocked me. I thought Karin was an anomaly. I thought you HAD to buy bread and those who always made it were simply, NUTS!
Last Fall we finally started making my own bread. Now, Tom is often better at it than I am. Here's our Honey Oat Bread recipe.
Honey Oatmeal Bread
by Suzy Sholar
½ cup butter
¾ cup honey
2 ¼ cups water
2 cups oatmeal
2T + ¾ tea yeast (3 packets)
1 T salt
5 ½ cups flour
½ to 2 cups MORE flour
1. In small saucepan, combine butter, honey, and water. Heat over low-medium heat until mixture is very warm (120F -130F).
2. Place a pan of water on bottom oven rack. Turn oven on very low (170F).
3. Meanwhile, place oatmeal, yeast, salt, and 5 ½ cups flour into mixing bowl. Attach dough hook to mixer. Mix dry ingredients together.
4. Turn mixer to speed 2. Gradually add warm mixture to flour and mix about 1 minute.
5. Add eggs and mix 1 more minute.
6. Continuing on speed 2, add remaining flour ½ cup at a time, mixing about 2 minutes, or until dough clings to hook and cleans side of bowl. Knead on speed 2 about 2 minutes longer*.
7. Butter two bowls.
8. Split dough into two balls, about 1/3 and 2/3 of dough. Put dough into each bowl.
9. TURN OFF THE OVEN. Place each bowl on the top rack of oven.
10. Wet a flour sack towel with hot tap water. Squeeze out excess water. Cover the bowls, in the oven, with the damp towel.
11. Prop a wooden spoon in the door of the oven. Set a timer for one hour. Check the dough. It should have doubled in size. Remove from oven.
12. Reset the oven (with the water still in it) to a low temperature (170F).
13. Punch down dough. Use smaller portion as four mini-loaves OR 32 rolls OR one artisan loaf OR pretzels OR another regular loaf of bread. Divide larger portion in half. On lightly floured surface; roll each half into rectangle (about 9” x 14”). Starting at a short end, roll dough tightly. Pinch dough as you go. Pinch to seal seam. Pinch ends and turn under. Place in loaf pan, seam side down. (When using seasoned stoneware, there is no need to grease the pan, if using other types of pans, you will need to butter / grease the loaf pans first).
14. TURN OFF THE OVEN. Place pans on the top rack of oven. Rewet and wring towel. Cover dough. Prop wooden spoon in door of oven. Set timer for an hour.
15. When dough has doubled in size (finger pressed in leaves a dent) remove all pans from oven (including water pan). Turn oven on to 375F (385F high altitude).
16. Once oven has preheated, cook rolls / mini loaves for about 20-25 minutes and regular size loaves about 45 minutes. Pretzels should cook about 50F higher for 12 minutes.
Yield: 48 servings (16 slices per loaf).
Per serving: About 134 calories, 4 grams protein, 24 grams carbohydrates, 3 gram fat, 13 mg cholesterol, 162 mg sodium.
* You can remove this from the mixer at any point, and work the dough by hand! :D
This is the recipe as we use it in Wyoming (high altitude), but we didn't really "adjust" it for High Altitude, we just have a "feel" for the dough now and know what we need to do. Anyway, we like it a lot. We make dough for three loaves twice a week. We make two full size loaves and the third piece we do different things with: rolls, mini-loaves, pretzels, pizza dough, artisan-style loaves, baguettes, etc. By changing the shape or brushing with oil and herbs, you can really change the way the third loaf looks.
Here's a link to the crockery method of bread that I tried a few weeks back. We liked it, but I've only made it once (just because I'm so familiar with my Honey Oat Recipe).
One of my biggest obstacles to making regular bread was how to keep it fresh without wasting lots of plastic bags or wraps (plastic/aluminum/etc). I finally found a suitable container in the Lock'N'Lock 38 cup Rectangle. It's just the right size to hold a whole, uncut loaf (although I prefer to let the loaves cool to room-temperature and then cut before they are cold and hard). I can fit two of these on one of my fridge shelves, and put all three loaves (when cut up) in both tubs. I picked my tubs up for $9.99 at a Bed Bath & Beyond, so, if you are close to one, you probably can save a few dollars getting it in a store versus online.
At the beginning, every batch seemed a chore. Now, Tom and I have the recipe memorized. One of us can start the recipe and the other pick-up and finish it seamlessly.
We have been very pleased at how filling and satisfying it is to always have fresh, hardy bread on hand... for about $1.50 a loaf (including electricity and such). It tastes better. It's better for us. And we just plain enjoy it. :D
Let me know if you too give switching to your own homemade bread a try.