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Make Your Own Bread - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Anybody up for some failed bread?

I’m not even going to include the recipe because this didn’t turn out very well. It was a series of unfortunate events, and not the lemony kind. First off, I’ve never really baked bread before (unless you count Irish Soda Bread). Second, I decided to try out this Pyrex Bake-A-Round tube thingy I got at the thrift store instead of going the traditional route.

Third, I used the recipe in the box for French Bread, which was written back in the 70s (the recipe did use standard active dry yeast and most of the same ingredients found in bread recipes). I was thinking of a baguette or something – they obviously weren’t. The recipe called for FOUR cups flour to about one cup of water. I knew that wasn’t right, but I tried it anyway. It is awfully hard to mix in four cups of flour into a cup of water or so by hand. Oh yes, that’s Fourth: even though we have a perfectly good mixer with a dough hook, I “forgot” and decided to mix the bastard by hand. Actually, I suspect this is keeping with the Cheap Eats tradition since I’d be unwise to assume everyone has a mixer on hand.

So, it’s not a big surprise that the bread didn’t win best of show. Maybe it was the extra salt added in from the sweat rolling off my head as I tried to knead the dough. Old-time readers will also remember I have a nagging shoulder injury – that was not fun.

Make Your Own Bread - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

The bread itself came out just “edible”. That’s pretty much all the praise I can muster for several hours of effort. I wasn’t surprised it was very dense and almost cake-like. The crust actually came out decent, though not browned. Someone told me that industrial type ovens blast it with so much heat in a short time which is how they can get a better crust? Actually, if it wasn’t for the bake-a-round tube, it probably would have came out even worse.

However, a good Cheap Eater is willing to experiment and fail for the overall good of the wallet. Home-baked Bread definitely seemed like something that should be tried out. So, instead of moaning about this unlovable loaf, I’ll probably be trying it again sometime later in the year. I probably won’t be using the bake-a-round again, although it was sort of neat that when you cut slices they were perfectly round – that might be fun for hamburger sandwiches or something.

Also, I’m sure there are tons of excellent bread bakers out there – if you have a good recipe or technique to share, please do. I’m going to also say that I KNOW you can just use a bread machine to make it. But I’d like to hear from those who don’t use a machine, and possibly not even a mixer. I’m still not 100% convinced that making your own bread from scratch is worth the time and effort – I think the price of bread would knead (haha) to go up considerably to get more people to start trying to make their own.

Make Your Own Bread - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

27 Responses to “Make Your Own Bread”

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  1. Anita Says:

    I thought there was no way this could be so easy and failproof. It was a bit of a rage on foodie blogs and while deeply sceptical, I finally gave it a try. It changed my life.

    Link

  2. Anita Says:

    This is the article that started the craze.

    If you google ‘NO Knead bread’, you’ll find many variations and much praise.

  3. shawnna Says:

    not to brag, but i make some pretty good bread. i made the best sandwich loaf ever on Saturday, and I also make an excellent sourdough foccicia. It took some time to learn a few things and perfect the recipes I use, so I definitely say practice and use a few different recipes and eventually you’ll perfect it. I started by hand, but then I purchased and use my stand mixer for all bread making activities.

  4. Meg Says:

    No Knead bread is the way to go. Comes together quick and easy, sits over night, bakes up beautifully. It’s not a sandwich bread really though, it’s better for spreads, dips, stews, etc. Once the initial purchase of the yeast is made, it’s really cheap to keep making.

  5. Erica Says:

    Hmmm….Im going to have to start making bread! And Im soooo freaking excited about it! I will be using my stand alone mixer though…work is overrated.

  6. yummyumm Says:

    could make fair croutons/crackers… maby garlic bread slathered in olive oil, parmesan cheese and garlic.

  7. katmaxx Says:

    Bread flour, get some, there is a difference. It has a higher protein content so you get better texture. Also a instant read thermometer so you get the temp right on the warm water you add the yeast to. Try that dough hook on your mixer and if you have a pizza stone try baking it on that as a big foccacia with olive oil brushed on top

  8. Daniel Says:

    I just popped over to grab the URL for the soda bread post, and saw this latest article. Since it was your soda bread article that I first tried baking bread with, I thought I should return the favor:

    link

    Quick, painless and pretty easy. Also yummy and cheaper than store bought!

    I’ll be posting my soda bread article with the link back to you tomorrow!

  9. Anita Says:

    I disagree that a ‘bread’ flour is necessary. There is a difference, but mostly it’s the inflated price that one notices. IMHO it just isn’t worth it.

  10. Joshua Says:

    Here’s a recipe I use often, it’s nice and simple, and yields great results:

    500g flour (I use unbleached flour, nothing fancy)
    10g yeast (the jar of “Bread Machine” yeast is the cheapest way to go at most grocery stores, compared to the packets)
    10g salt
    350g water

    Preheat oven to about 400-450 (Fahrenheit).

    Mix flour, yeast, salt, and water. It’ll seem kind of sticky, probably. Scrape out of bowl onto UNFLOURED, flat surface. Stick your fingers under the lump (think forklift, I guess). Lift and swing the dough, looping it over itself. This seems confusing. You’re basically stretching the dough over itself.

    Do this for a few minutes (usually 5 or less), and the dough comes together (it stops sticking on your fingers, countertop, etc…with no extra flour).

    Let it rise until it doubles, put it into loaf pans, that kooky bake-a-round contraption, or shape it into a loaf. Let it proof (rise a second time) if you’d like. Bake until the crust is golden brown (flip the loaf out/off the pan, thump the bottom. If it sounds hollow, it’s probably done).

    The first time I tried this, it came out deliciously. It’s a great, simple, easy, CHEAP basic bread recipe. You can add whatever you want.

  11. Joshua Says:

    On the topic of saving money over buying bread: You can get a loaf of white bread for under $1 at Wal-Mart or Aldi’s.

    The recipe I posted uses a dollar or less of ingredients, and could be made with less money (bulk yeast would be cheaper, as would regular (bleached) flour).

    The difference is not chiefly cash, I’d say. Preservatives vs no preservatives, 100 ingredients or 4? Plus there’s a bigger difference in price between this recipe and similar bread at stores. It’s closer to artisan style bread ($4+ per loaf?) than Wonder.

    Just a couple thoughts. I really like the site!

  12. Krista Says:

    Link: The Fresh Loaf
    ^lots of bread recipes including some lessons for beginners.

  13. Eug Says:

    My own bread recipe that I’ve experimented with:

    2 cups all purpose flour
    2/3 cup warm to semi-hot water
    1 packet yeast (active dry, fast acting is fine too)
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 tablespoon butter/margarine

    Mix 1/3 of your total flour with the salt and yeast, so they’re spread out evenly. Dump the water and butter in, mix with whatever you have on end until the texture is consistent (will be a watery paste). Add another 1/3 of your flour, mix around (will be a slightly more solid, but still very soft and warm paste.) Add the last bit of flour; this is the point where you scrape excess dough off the spoon/mixer and start kneading it by hand. If there is flour left in the bowl, turn the dough inside out and “wipe” the flour up, kneading it some more.

    After about 5 minutes, the dough will become a little more solid and significantly less sticky. After 10 minutes total of kneading, the dough should be somewhat firm and lose its stickiness. If it’s still sticking to your fingers, gradually add more flour and continue kneading. You’re shooting for a balance between a texture that’s pliable and easy to knead (not too much flour), with a non-sticky consistency (not too little). Shape this into a ball, and put it into a bowl.

    Cover your bowl, and put in a warm (not HOT) place. I preheat my oven to a little over 100 and let it sit there a bit. Let your dough rise (this takes quite a long time, at least half an hour). When you pull it out, your dough should have expanded quite a lot and should be VERY easy to mold now.

    Get a flat surface (consider sprinking some flour on it to avoid the dough sticking to it) and roll out your dough with a pin into a long, rectangular shape, (if you don’t have a pin, squashing it with a flat surface or rolling it with a round cup works.) Roll up a long end, so you have a nice, long cylinder, and seal the tips with a little water. Orient your cylinder so the long, narrow hole you made is at the bottom. Wet a paper towel, cover your dough with it, and let rise for another 40 minutes. After this, preheat your oven to 375, make a few diagonal, DEEP cuts into the top of your cylinder (so the open end doesn’t cave open in your oven) and heat for 40 minutes, or until the outside is brown.

    As a general rule, if your bread is very dense, you have not let it rise enough. If your cylinder’s opening seems to be gaping wide when you’re done baking, you didn’t make your cuts deep enough.

    Also, I just realized that the above ended up pretty wordy, so here’s the quick and dirty version:

    Mix 1/3 flour and dry ingredients, then stir in warm water/butter. Mix in rest of flour gradually. Shape into ball, let rise in warm place until very soft/doubled in size. Roll out, roll into a cylinder, seal ends with water, let rise 40 minutes. Make cuts into top, bake @ 375 for 40 minutes or until brown on the outside.

  14. Eug Says:

    Oh, one more trick to add to the above French Bread recipe:

    It may seem counterintuitive, but to get a crispy crust, you want the surface of your dough wet before baking (one of the reasons you let it rise under a wet paper towel); the evaporation that results makes it crispier. If you really like crispy crust, consider rewetting the surface of your bread midway through the baking process.

  15. Cheap Eats Editor Says:

    Thanks everyone for your tips and recipes! I have to say I was intrigued with the No-Knead Bread the most, though I was skeptical. So instead of waiting a few months, I went ahead and tried it yesterday. I was pretty amazed! It came out like bread that they serve at restaurants before you eat dinner. There were a few hiccups, but for the most part it was really great, and with less work involved. I’ll probably be writing up something separate later. For those interested, the video is at the link in Anita’s first comment above. I followed it nearly exactly, except let it rise for 18hrs versus 12hrs.

  16. Anita Says:

    If you’re anything like me, in a year you’ll find yourself buying the occasional quarter pound of rye or whole wheat when it goes on sale and making lunch and dinner rolls, flatbread (forget pizza and foccacia). I never buy these products now.

    I live in CT and pay 2.59 for 5 lbs of flour, it works out to 20 cups of flour…. If I told you what we pay around here for a boule or rye bagels….you wouldn’t believe me:)

  17. Anita Says:

    *Oops. My husband, a west coaster, reminds me that “forget” does not mean “ubiquitious”
    outside of this part of the east coast.*

  18. Red Icculus Says:

    The bake-a-round tubes were all the rage in the 70′s. I have one and they are a hassle to clean. Thanks for the great writeup. If worse comes to worse, they are going for a premium on ebay. :)

  19. tastymealsathome Says:

    Wow! That’s a log of a bread. Props to trying !

  20. Ken Says:

    If you’re looking for a nice baguette like “crust” the secret is to mist the loaf after it’s been in the oven with water. A VERY fine mist once over. Too much and you’ll end up with a thick crust that’s horrible.

    I’ve heard you can also put a small tray of water in the bottom of the oven, but I’ve never tried that.

  21. monica Says:

    No knead challah! It’s one of the easiest breads to make and is OH SO DELICIOUS. :) Link Seriously… PLEASE give it a try.

  22. Anita Says:

    Monica,

    Phenomenal! I will never again have to travel an hour to get my friday challot and I just can’t thank you enough for sharing this great recipe!

  23. Johanna Says:

    I make bread almost every day. Its a lot cheaper to make your own bread and I never buy ready made bread. I live with four of my friends so I have to make alot.
    The recipe I use is petty basic I never measure anything because it´s a bother, but it goes something like this:

    about two cups of warm water.
    tblsp. yeast, dry or fresh.
    honey or sugar, about a tablespoon (it makes the yeast ferment faster)
    salt
    oil 2 tblsp.
    stir it all together and then add flour until it takes shape. cover the dough with flour and put the bowl into a sink full of hot water. This makes the process alot faster wich is good because I don’t want to spend alot of time doing this since I do it almost every day.
    when the dough has doubled in size you knead it (using a little bit more flour) and then you shape it. I usually make buns or I flatten it roughly out with my hands and pour garlic oil and herbs on it. or I flatten it out, put pizza sauce on it or olives and then roll it up, make a circle and put grated cheese on it, you can also flatten it up in pieces and fry it on a pan to make home made naans.
    just do whatever you can think of. But don’t give up on baking your own bread it really sves you alot of money and it tastes really good.

  24. Ransom Says:

    I’ve taken a baking course in college and worked at a few bread bakeries in my time. The bread I enjoy is artisan style, meaning that it takes two days to make, which produces a lot more flavour, a nicer crumb and texture. Here are some tips for bread baking:

    Salt will kill the yeast if it comes in direct contact, the best way to mix is to dissolve the yeast in the water and mix the salt in the flour before adding the yeast/water.

    Hot water will kill yeast, room temp-warm water is best. Cold water will cause the yeast to take a very long time to rise.

    Bread flour is very useful when making bread because it helps to develop the right amount of gluten, or strength to allow the bread to rise to its full potential. Bleached AP flour can work but you’ll have a dense flat bread. Unbleaced AP flour is better because the chemicals have not softened the flour, it can be substituted in full for bread flour. I live in Canada and the bread flour and AP flour are the same price, you may just have to go to a bulk food store or natural foods.

    Wetting the surface of the bread with a bit of water will help produce a nice thick crust while baking. Also spraying water with a spray bottle into the oven while baking really helps as well. A tray of ice cubes at the bottom of the oven works just as well.

    The less yeast and the longer rising time will produce more flavour.

    Using fats such as butter, oil or shortening will make the bread more tender, known as ‘rich dough’. However, oil in pizza dough allows it to roll out better and is easier to shape. The bread bible (noted below) has a great pizza dough recipe (but I find uses too much oil)

    I recommend the following books if you are interested in bread:

    Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible

    Maggie Glezer’s Artisan Baking Across America

    Joe Ortiz’s The Village Baker

    The Fresh Loaf is a great website for every baker, lots of recipes and tons of useful tips.

    take chances, make mistakes and get messy!

  25. Tracey S. Says:

    Interesting…..

    I just made bread yesterday for the first time without my bread machine. It was/is awesome!

    Amish White Bread from Allrecipes.com, be sure to find breadman’s comments for instructions on using the dough hook on that machine (it’s the most popular).

    I may never buy bread again!

    I stumbled on your site looking for things to do with potatoes, and you got this CA Native that moved to FL craving a few west coast things.

    Thanks for sharing everything!

  26. Stacy Says:

    To get a browner crisper crust, use steam.

    It’s easily achieved by placing pans of water in the bottom of your oven when you begin to preheat it.

    For the less timid, and slightly reckless, literally splash a few cups of water on the floor of your oven after you put your bread in. Shut the oven door quickly to avoid the steam escaping and/or steaming yourself.

    Remember! Steam is hotter than Fire!

  27. Patricia Robinson Says:

    we are having a spaghetti dinner this Saturday at church and i want to make GARLIC BREAD,from scratch. do you have any neat recipes and do you put something special in the mix? i just LOVE to make Cinnamon rolls, bread and especially using the Amish recipe books..Thanks, patricia




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