With the fairly big change in our lives happening in a few weeks, we’ve been hunkering down on costs whenever we can as whatever monies I make the first year writing will more than likely not match (not by a long shot) what I make at the current job.
One of our biggest expenditures is food: take out, specialty, high end, doesn’t matter. If we could put it in our mouths and digest it, we were more than likely buying it. Having the means to eat anywhere you want to, dining out for lunch nearly every day, or the near daily shopping trip to a great local bakery hasn’t helped either. It was shocking adding the receipts into YNAB over the last few months, because wow. We dropped how much on a single dinner and didn’t blink?
Right. Time to change.1
The other big component to this is knowing what ingredients are actually in our food. I had lunch with Kolene at Curry Kitchen2 recently and feigned surprised when I found out the naan had milk in addition to being slathered in butter. I wasn’t really surprised, but I have been in deep denial about how a lot of the food I eat is dairy free.3
The other component is learning how to cook, something I’ve moved from thinking about to seriously thinking about in the last year or so and need to start actually practicing.
(This is an awfully long intro to a damn recipe, but keep up with me here.)
With all of this swirling around, TheHusband and I have been doing pretty great on getting the food budget under control, not eating out unless it was foretold by the gods, and finding ways to maintain most of our food lifestyle without skimping on anything. With all of this in mind, it was also important for me to document what we’re doing because not only will be helpful for later recall but also for others.4
Bread was something that I’ve made frequently in the past to know I was good at and could also cheaply replicate at home. I had not found a good white bread recipe for sammiches yet, so I asked my pal Frank for a non-bread machine recipe, which he gladly supplied.
How awesome was this recipe? TheHusband and I killed half a loaf with dinner. It is THAT good.
It is, however, not that great for sammiches. The innards are tad too soft and any weight given in the sammich building would probably tear it apart. It would also probably not work well as French toast either. It would work for plain eating with a spread or for sopping or even just tearing hunks off to nibble on.
Plus the recipe is super easy. AND, since I’ve successfully used vegan milk and butter but a real egg for the recipe, swapping in an egg replacement would make it totally vegan. SCORE.
Also remember recently when I said, “At some point in my life, I’ll learn how to be a better food photographer”?
Yeah, I decided this was now the time.
White Bread – Throbbing Variation. Adapted from Frank Skornia, who adapted it from Peter Reinhart
2 teaspoons (.22 ounces) active yeast
1/2 cup of hot water (around 112 degrees)
4 3/4 cups (21.5 ounces) unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons (.38 ounce) salt
3 1/4 tablespoons (1.66 ounces) sugar
1/4 cup (1.33 ounce) unsweetened almond milk
1 large (1.65 ounces) egg, slightly beaten, at room temperature
3 1/4 tablespoons (1.66 ounces) vegan butter melted or at room temperature (I use Earth Balance since it has the best consistency and taste to cow milk butter)
1 3/4 (or 2 1/4) cups (14 – 16 ounces) water, at room temperature
1 egg, whisked until frothy, for egg wash
- Proof the yeast by adding it the 1/2 cup of hot water and let sit for about 5 minutes until creamy. If using quick yeast, you can skip this step but make sure to add the 1/2 cup of water into the water total later in the recipe for a total of 2 1/4 cups
- While yeast is proofing, add flour, salt, and sugar into a mixing bowl (hand or stand) and blend
- Add the yeast mixture, milk, egg, butter, and 1 cup (1 1/2) cups of water with a large metal spoon (or on low speed of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment) until all the flour is absorbed and the dough forms a ball. If the dough seems very stiff and dry, slowly add water until the dough is soft and supple.
- Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough and begin kneading (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook), adding more flour, if necessary, to create a dough that is soft, supple, and tacky but not sticky. Continue for 6 to 8 minutes. (In the electric mixer, the dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick ever so slightly to the bottom.) The dough should pass the windowpane test.
- Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean cloth and ferment at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size (the length of time will depend on the room temperature). Trick: Due to weather (windows are open!) or to save time, a trick to get dough to rise quickly is to warm the oven up (200F roughly) and then turn it off. Now pop the bowl (and thus use a clean towel and NOT plastic wrap) into the oven, close the door and check back in an hour. The dough should have doubled by this time.
- Remove the fermented dough from the bowl and divide it in half for sandwich loaves and shape the dough. Lightly oil two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pans and place the loaves in the pans.
- Mist the top of the dough with spray oil and loosely cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Proof the dough at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes, or until it nearly doubles in size. I also did the same trick here with the oven but I did NOT cover the tops.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F for loaves and brush the loaves with egg wash.
- Bake loaves for 35 to 45 minutes, rotating 180 degrees halfway through for even baking, if needed. The tops should be golden brown and the sides, when removed from the pan, should also be golden. The loaves should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom. (My oven is quick so I baked for 35 minutes on the nose and they were perfect and I did rotate about 20 minutes in.)
- When the loaves have finished baking, remove them immediately from the pans and cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before slicing or serving.
Also make sure to check out Frank’s adaptation as he includes how to use this dough for making dinner rolls, hot dog, and hamburger rolls. Also thanks to Frank, I learned about the windowpane technique and how to shape loaf dough. Frank, you rock!
1. Even if I somehow make a trillion dollars off my future endeavours, it certainly would be in our best interests to have better control over our budget so we know if we’re buying a pied terre in Paris’ first district or some kind of ramshackle ruin in the wilds of southern Italy. Bad comparison as we want both, but you catch my drift.
2.The owner kept making fat jokes at my expense while also referring to himself – things along the lines like I didn’t worry about starving to death waiting for the naan while rubbing his own protruding belly.
3. It’s been nearly three years since I’ve had mac and cheese. Some days, I would give a year of my life to eat mac and cheese.
4. People love, love, LOVE any posts I do how-tos on whatever.
This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2013