My answer is this: bread is the staff of life. There’s something so elemental about baking bread to serve your family that it is…well, for lack of another word, basic. The ingredients are simple and usually few. Most of the time it takes to make is just waiting. And the result? When you bite into bread you have made for the first time, you will feel like you can do anything!
A perfect springboard for the rest of the week, I say.
That being said, I know that the thought of making bread scares many people and I feel your pain. I used to be scared, too. I’ve also read a lot of recipes that involve more time, effort, and know-how than I ever want to put in the kitchen.
Remember our cottage mentality motto: simple, frugal, and fun. So the following bread recipes have to adhere to these three principles or they don’t make the cut.
Basic Baking Powder Biscuits (find my favorite recipe and pictures at the end of this post) for a quick bread to go with soups and stews or to serve as a base for breakfast sausage-and-egg sandwiches, or ham or turkey “slider” sandwiches for lunches.
Bottom line: Control of ingredients at a cost of less than a dollar for the whole batch.
Dip your toes into the world of yeast with:
Updated Easy Artisan Bread made in an enameled cast iron dutch oven to replicate that famous artisan-type crust. This is hands-down the easiest yeast recipe I’ve ever made and it turns out wonderful every time with no kneading and hardly any hands-on time. Your family and friends will think you are a bread maker extraordinaire when you serve them this. Shhh…I’ll keep your secret.
Bottom line: feeling of super-hero power with the first bite at a cost of less than .50 versus $4 to $5 bought at a store.
Finally, make the soft sandwich bread you thought you never could with:
An Oregon Cottage’s Easy Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread– A Tutorial. This is it guys, when you make this you need never buy a loaf of bread from the store again (if you choose not to…). What a feeling! If someone had told me a few years ago that I wouldn’t be buying bread I would’ve laughed at them (with visions of some of my previous “leaden” loaf attempts running through my head…). And it’s doable. Really. So make it your goal to try it and see if you like it.
Bottom line: Ma Ingalls feeding her family at a cost of about .60 cents a loaf.
- 3 cups whole wheat pastry (or white wheat) flour (or a combination of whole wheat and unbleached)
- 1 tsp. honey or sugar
- 4 tsp. baking powder
- 3/4 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 c. cold butter
- 1 egg
- 1 c. buttermilk or milk
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- In the bowl of a food processor or regular bowl, combine the first six ingredients (if using honey, combine it with the liquid ingredients). Pulse (or mix) to combine.
- Cut up the butter into eight pieces and add to the dry ingredients. Pulse (or use a pastry blender) until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal with a few pea-sized pieces of butter remaining. If using a processor, transfer to a medium bowl.
- Combine the egg and milk (and honey, if using) in a glass measure; add to the dry ingredients all at once. Stir with a wooden spoon just until mixture starts to come together (it will not be completely mixed). Don’t over mix.
- Turn out onto a floured surface and knead 10 – 15 times until dough holds together, folding a couple of times at the end like a letter. Pat or roll into a 1 to 1-1/4 inch rectangle. Cut with a biscuit cutter or knife into about a dozen biscuits depending on the size.
- Place on a lined or greased cookie sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown.