Let them eat bread! (or, something like that.)
Lately I’ve been trying to find new ways for my family to cut back on our spending. Since I love to cook, that seemed like a good area to start. If I was being really honest, I would admit that I have not been quite so responsible lately.
We moved a few states away two months ago. I did a pretty decent job cleaning out my pantry, which was awesome. Rebuilding my pantry? Less awesome. I had lost most of my coupons, did not have a working printer, and wasn’t really too sure about any of the local grocery stores. I made a lot of mistakes and spent more money than I should have.
However, I am now two months in and feeling much more settled. I know which grocery stores around here fit my needs. (Side note: isn’t it interesting how different stores within the same chain can be? We have most of the same stores available to us, but now shop at completely different options!)
I started researching different recipes to save money and came across Pennies and Pancakes. Among the many delicious things that she makes is bread! She has quite a few recipes for homemade bread on her website. I did what I usually do, and completely skimmed past that section until I read one little note. She had a recipe to make a loaf of French Bread. The approximate cost to prepare? 31 CENTS.
I adore a good loaf of french bread! In the past, I have bought the prepared ones to accompany pasta and soups and all sorts of great meals. Never have I ever been able to score one for anywhere near $0.31. So, I decided I would try.
I started copying down the recipe and immediately got cold feet. There were a lot of steps. And it would take quite some time to prepare! Long involved recipes with an active 15 month old don’t really work. As I read further, I realized that a lot of the time spent in this recipe is waiting time. Time for the bread to rise. Time that I could play with Cupcake and not have to say, “Oh give Mommy just 30 more minutes!”
I did not take many pictures of this adventure for several reasons.
1. Pictures on the original blog are pretty. My iphone cannot compete with that
2. Often my hands were covered in dough or flour or both
3. I also decided to make the most delicious Split Pea and Black Bean Soup
4. I also decided to try to make a recipe for homemade granola bars (recipe to come soon!) that I found on the website
5. Any other time I was playing with my sweet Cupcake
My final result was not as perfectly beautiful as a loaf of French Bread should be. It was too wide, but it was SO GOOD. Seriously. My family ate half the loaf in about 5 minutes. I will be making this again. Tomorrow. And maybe eventually taking some pictures along the way!
If you do not feel like heading over to the original website, I will post the recipe and directions here. Although usually I modify every recipe, this one is 100% not mine. It is perfect as is!
1 cup luke-warm water
2 tsp. dry active yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. oil
3/4 tsp. salt
2 1/2 – 3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. oil (for coating dough)
1 well-beaten egg + 1 Tbsp. water (brush on loaf before baking for a shiny exterior)
1. In a large bowl combine warm water, yeast, sugar, and oil. Let sit for 10 minutes.
2. Add salt and 2 1/2 cups flour. Mix ingredients to form a very slightly sticky ball of dough. Add more flour, one tablespoon at a time, if needed to reach right consistency. Mix for eight minutes.
3. Using your hands, lightly coat the ball of dough with 1 tsp oil. Cover and let rise till doubled in size (1- 1/2 hours).
4. Punch down the dough, and knead it for 5 minutes.
5. Rub a baking sheet with olive oil. Using your hands, flatten the dough into approximately a 12×6-inch rectangle. Starting with a long side of the rectangle, roll the dough into a log. Pinch the seams and ends together.
6. Cover and let rise 30 minutes on the baking sheet.
7. Uncover and lightly coat in an egg wash made from one well-beaten egg and 1 Tbsp water. Using a very sharp knife gently make 1/4-inch deep slices on top of the loaf.
8. Place a pan of water in a cold oven. Move a rack to the top level. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.
9. While the oven pre-heats, allow the dough to rise, uncovered, an additional 10 – 15 minutes.
10. Once the oven has reached 450 degrees, place the loaf on the top rack, quickly throw two ice cubes on the bottom of the oven, and shut the door. (The steam from the water in the pan, and the water on the bottom of the oven creates a crispy/chewy crust.)
11. Bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees. Lower the heat to 375 degrees and bake an additional 15 minutes. Crust will be golden brown, and hard to the touch.
12. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool on a wire rack at least 5 minutes.
Try this recipe and let me know what you think! This bread makes me REALLY excited for the autumn and lots of awesome soup recipes. Do you have a favorite recipe for soup? Leave a comment below!