The first in a series of weekend posts about injecting a little frugal luxury into everyday living.
Frugal Artisan Bread
Oooh I love nice bread.
A lovely organic artisan loaf, fresh from the oven, a luxury item I'm sure you'll agree.
Unfortunately it usually comes with a hefty luxury price tag as well, that just doesn't fit with the notion of frugality.
Similar loaves are priced at £2.50 and upwards!
Luxury - Yes.
Frugal - No.
Unless you make your own.
Now I know what you're thinking - "Uhhh No!! - too complicated!" or "I don't have the time"
Well let me tell you - this will be one of the easiest, peasiest loaves of bread that you ever did make.
There's no kneading, you don't need a bread-maker and if anything it's probably easier than using a bread-maker.
It will take time (about 24hours), but it won't take YOUR time. (Well no more than 5 or 10 minutes of it.)
Take three cups of plain flour (I like organic, but no doubt cheaper with non organic - you pays your money and takes your choice.)
Put into a large bowl and add 2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp of dried fast action yeast.
Give a little stir, then add 1 1/2 cups of water. Now to get the temperature of the water right I always use 1/2 boiling water to 1/2 cold water.
Give it a stir with a wooden spoon.
It will be a very soft loose dough - not at all like normal bread dough. Cover it with cling film and leave it at room temperature for at least 18 hours. Yes I did say 18 hours. I left mine for 24 hours.
Slowly your dough will rise and eventually double in size. after 18-24 hrs (it is very forgiving, timings do not need to be exact) prepare a board by sprinkling liberally with flour.
Remove the cling film - don't throw it away yet - and scoop the dough out onto your prepared board, shaping it into a cob shape as you do so. It helps to flour your hands liberally at this point the dough is very soft. Cover with the cling film.
Set your oven to the highest setting it will go and place within the oven a covered casserole dish. An enameled cast iron casserole is preferable, but any covered casserole dish should work. After 30 minutes take the casserole dish out of the oven and remove the lid. Remove the cling film from the bread dough, flour your hands and quickly pick up the lump of dough and dump it into the hot casserole.
Put the lid on and pop it in the oven for about 40 minutes. remove the lid and return to the oven for an extra 15 minutes.
Result - a beautiful organic artisan loaf with minimal effort.
My organic flout cost £1 and will make 3 loaves so 33p for the flour.
1 hour's use of an electric oven approx 35p
Cost of yeast and salt approx 10p
So overall cost 78p.
Obviously cheaper if you decide to use non organic flour and if you also make use of the oven to either cook more than one loaf at a time or to cook something else with the bread.