Friday, January 1, 2010

Adventures in Bread Making

It started with a need to trim the grocery budget. I had made my own bread before and knew it was healthier and cheaper than buying bread. But in those days I was a stay at home mom and it was fairly simple to work an afternoon of making bread into my routine once a week. These days I work full time and, with the commute of 40 miles one way, my discretionary time is even more scarce than my discretionary funds. A bread machine seemed to be the answer, but the retail price on even the cheaper models was prohibitive. Then a friend suggested I check out the local Goodwill Store on my lunch hour one day and I lucked into a Breadman Plus bread machine for only $14.99 ...what a deal! There was no manual with it, but I was pretty sure I would be able to go online and download one. The store offered a 15 day no-questions return policy so I forked over the money and took it home.

Finding the manual online was easy, just as I expected and I downloaded it as a pdf to my desktop. I have printed a few pages but mainly reference it from my computer when necessary. The manual included some basic recipes and I tried those first. They were good ...especially the Two Cheese Bread but I wanted to more variety. So I went online again in search of bread recipes with a little pizazz.

My first real find was a recipe for basic white bread with two tablespoons of dry Ranch dressing mix in it for flavor. This is a great supper bread to serve with soups or stews. A few weeks ago, I decided to experiment with making a sweet bread for things like French Toast and came up with this... I substituted brown sugar for the honey and maple syrup for the oil. Instead of dry Ranch dressing mix, I added cinnamon. I adjusted the quantities of the brown sugar and syrup slightly until the dough looked to be the right consistency. It came out great! It is only slightly sweet, a great bread for making French Toast or to spread with butter and your favorite jam.

Today I started to make a batch of the Sweet Breakfast Bread and decided at the last minute to try a new variation ...my own version of Pepper Bread. I followed the recipe for the Ranch Bread but substituted two tablespoons of Crush Red Peppers for the Ranch dressing. This will also be a good bread for soups and stews, or buttered with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and placed under the broiler as a side with spaghetti or lasagna.

It costs approximately 50-75 cents to make a 2 pound loaf of these breads, slightly more to make the Two Cheese Bread because cheese is always expensive. But even the cheap sandwich bread in the stores is over $1/loaf. Not only does it cost less per loaf for homemade bread, but I have found that we are satisfied with less. I think the fresh natural ingredients are the reason. I'm posting a few of the recipes below. If you don't have a breadmachine, just make them old fashioned way. By the same token, if you acquire a bread machine, any bread recipe can be made in the machine ...just add the wet ingredients first, the flour and any other dry ingredients second and the yeast last. And don't be afraid to tweak!

For all of these recipes, add the ingredients to the bread machine in the order given. I prefer to use the dough setting and bake the loaves in the oven. If you use the bread machine to bake, choose large (2 lb loaf) and select the desired darkness for your crust.

Two Cheese Bread (from my Breadman Plus manual)
1 c warm water
1-1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil (or butter)
1 egg
1 Tbsp honey (or sugar)
3/4 c whole wheat flour
2-3/4 c bread flour
1/3 c dry milk powder
1-1/3 c grated cheddar cheese (or your favorite cheese)
1/4 c Parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
2 tsp yeast

Ranch Bread
1-1/8 c warm water
1 egg, beaten
1/4 c vegetable oil
3-1/4 c bread flour
1/3 c dry milk powder
2 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp Ranch dressing powder
2-1/4 tsp yeast

Sweet Breakfast Bread
1-1/8 c warm water
1 egg, beaten
1/3 c maple syrup
3-1/4 c bread flour
1/3 c dry milk powder
4 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp cinnamon
2-1/4 tsp yeast

Pepper Bread
1-1/8 c warm water
1 egg, beaten
1/4 c vegetable oil
3-1/4 c bread flour
1/3 c dry milk powder
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp crushed red peppers
2-1/4 tsp yeast

Enjoy!

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4 Comments:

Blogger Kim said...

I so want to get a bread machine. Happy New Year!

January 1, 2010 at 11:45 AM  
Blogger WomanWhoRunsWithHorses said...

Happy New Year to you guys too! They make some really cool bread machines ...some that do more than just make bread. If money is not a problem, go shopping. If money is tight or you're just feeling frugal ...check out the local thrift stores. You'd be amazed at what you can find!

Here's hoping for a better year for all of us!

January 1, 2010 at 1:02 PM  
Blogger Humble wife said...

yummy!!! I love the ranch idea and am going to shamelessly steal this recipe!

January 1, 2010 at 2:58 PM  
Blogger WomanWhoRunsWithHorses said...

Humblewife! I'm so sorry I missed you in the chatroom last night! I'm looking forward to the recipes you plan to post this week too. I hope your family likes the ranch bread.

January 1, 2010 at 3:58 PM  

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