Homemade Bread

A while ago, I decided to quit buying bread at the grocery store. I used to pay $4 a loaf for sliced bread that was only good for one purpose at a time and despite being full of preservatives and chemicals, would go bad quickly after purchase. I found a recipe I absolutely love, a healthy, cheap bread that is super easy to make and much, much cheaper.

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Though I found this recipe on Jezebel, and love the author for providing it, I’ve made a few modifications to make this bread healthier and easier. Because I make this bread so frequently, I decided I could use $5 of the $$$ I’d saved and purchase a specific bread “bowl,” which is just a big plastic pop top container, the pop top allows for air flow to aid the fermentation process. Because I use it ONLY for bread, I drew a line at the 6 cups of flour mark with a sharpie so I don’t have to bother with measuring each time.

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Here’s what’s required: One large container with pop top, all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, active dry yeast, salt and water.

IMG_2781The recipe is super simple:

1.5 tablespoons of active dry yeast

into

3 cups of HOT water

add 1.5 tablespoons of table salt and let ferment 5 minutes.

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During this time, fill the container with about 2 cups of whole wheat flour and 4 cups of all purpose flour. Toss those around until they are well blended.

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SLOWLY add the the water, bit-by-bit to the flour mixture, gently swishing the water (to capture the all the yeast) and turning or rolling  the flour mixture as the water is being added.

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I spend a few minutes rolling the container along the counter which pulls the glutenous lumps off the sides as they build and marry with the flour. Give it a few good shakes and toss it in the fridge ensuring the lid is OPEN. (I often prop it halfway with a small item, as shown)

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Give the bread an hour to do its magic and it will be good, but give it a few hours and it will be GREAT. Depending on how patient you want to be, 2 hours in the fridge and 1 in the oven make a lovely loaf.

After being as patient as possible, I pull the bread out of its cocoon- unwilling as it may be- twist it and drop it into a loaf pan, slicing it along the top so it can spread without tearing.

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I usually bake it in a 9″x5″ loaf pan, but it usually  cooks a little large for that size. I’ve used 8″x8″ and 7″x11″, do what works.

After making this recipe many times, I have found that cooking at 325 degrees is best to keep the crust from hardening too much.

After an hour at 325, I stick a bamboo skewer through the bottom of the loaf and remove it to check for resistance and gumminess. I usually also let it rest inside the oven for an extra 20-30 minutes after its cooked. Let it cool prior to cutting and enjoy. This bread makes great sandwiches, french toast, croutons, you name it.

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If you have any left after breaking the bread, store it in a little lunch sack.

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