How to Make Sourdough Starter
We get so many questions about how to make homemade bread, so I thought I would try to answer just a few of them today. Don't let this information scare you away from making homemade bread. Once you get used to it, it really isn't a whole lot harder than baking a cake. Just read the information and then follow the recipe step by step.
I once read a book by an older woman on how to bake a pie. She said bake one everyday for two weeks, and at the end of that time, you will know how to bake a pie. That rule applies for many things, including bread baking. Things may seem a little awkward or difficult at first, but after you have made it 14 times, you will have learned what not to do and will get comfortable with it. There really was a lot of wisdom in what that older woman said.
We didn't put my favorite recipe for homemade bread in Dining on a Dime because it isn't quite as frugal as other recipes, but I thought some of you might like it now. Also, I will give you my grandmother-in-law's very frugal recipe.
Before I share the recipe, here are some useful tips on baking homemade bread:
When the water is hot enough, add part of the sugar (about 2 Tbsp.) to the water and then the yeast. You add sugar because yeast feeds on sugar. This process is called proofing. The yeast should start foaming, which tells you it's good and also that you haven't gotten the water too hot. If nothing happens, your yeast is dead for one reason or another so you need to get some new yeast or try it again with a different water temperature.
It is also good to do this because proofing the yeast gives the bread a better start. So you don't get confused, there are some recipes where you add the yeast with the flour and other ingredients and can't proof. That's OK because those recipes make up for it by calling for you to mix the ingredients with a mixer.
If a recipe calls for two packages of yeast and it makes two loaves of regular bread, you can usually just use one package to save a little. If you plan on making bread on a regular basis, you might want to buy yeast in bulk or in the jars because it is much less expensive.
I also do this when I put the bread in the pans to rise. I place the dough in the oven to rise using the method I described above (reheating the oven and turning it off). Then, when it is almost double in size, I leave it where it is and turn the oven on to the temperature that the bread is supposed to bake and bake it.
When you freeze or store homemade bread, be sure to wrap well. Bread can lose its moisture. If you don't think you will use it quickly, freeze part of the already baked bread, because it can dry out and get moldy faster than store bought bread. This is the reason our great-grandmothers came up with recipes like bread pudding and French toast.
Here's my favorite homemade bread recipe. It is cinnamon bread, but when I want to make regular bread, I just make it into loaves without spreading the cinnamon and sugar on it. This makes two loaves of bread.
6 1/2 - 7 cups unsifted flour or 1/2 wheat 1/2 white flour
6 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 pkg. yeast
1 cup milk
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup margarine
3 eggs (room temp.)
Filling for cinnamon bread:
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
Mix 2 cups flour with sugar, salt and yeast. Put the milk, water and margarine in a large mixing cup and heat in the microwave to 120° or until it feels really hot when you put your finger in it. (The margarine doesn't need to be melted.) Gradually add to the dry ingredients. Add the eggs and 1/2 cup more of flour. Stir in enough additional flour to make a stiff dough. Turn on to a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic (or you can knead it in the bowl). Place in a greased bowl (It sounds strange, but I use bacon grease), turning to grease the top. Put in warm place (like I mentioned above) and let rise until double, about 35 minutes.
Punch down and divide into 2 halves. Roll into a 14x9 rectangle. If you are making regular bread, beginning at the 9-inch end, roll as you would a jelly roll, gently making it into a loaf. Divide and place in 2 greased 9x5 bread pans. Let rise again for about 35 minutes until double. Bake for 45-50 minutes. To see if it's done, thump with your fingers. If it sounds hollow, it is done.
For Cinnamon Bread:
After you have rolled the dough out, spread it with a thick layer of margarine. Then sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and roll as above. Be sure to tuck the ends under so the goodies won't ooze out.
This is a great frugal recipe or one to use when you are short on ingredients because it doesn't call for things like milk or eggs.
This recipe was written the way we did it years ago, with just the ingredients and minimal instructions, so I hope you can figure it out OK. As you will see, this recipe breaks most of the rules I explained above, but her bread was always great.
You might also notice she did most of her kneading and working the bread in her bowl instead of dirtying a counter. Tawra does her bread this way and it works great every time.
1 pkg. yeast
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. shortening or margarine
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups water, very warm
Flour (about 6-7 cups)
Shift flour into the above mixture, stirring until it is too thick to stir. Then work with hands, adding flour as needed until it becomes a very stiff dough and won't stick to your hands. Place in a greased bowl, turning to coat top and set in a warm, draft free place about 1 1/2 hours. (This is why I like my oven method for rising.)
Punch down and let rise 1/2 hour more. Make into loaves or rolls. Makes 2 loaves. Bake at 325° for 1 hour for loaves and 35 minutes for rolls. (I found 375° for 25 minutes also works for the rolls.)
Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the authors of Dining on a Dime. Dining on a Dime will help you save money on groceries and get out of debt by cooking quick and simple homemade meals. For free tips and recipes, visit LivingOnADime.com.
Take the Next Step:
Share your thoughts about this article with the editor: Click Here
Sign up for our free weekly eNewsletter Surviving Tough Times.
Looking for an answer to a frugal living question? Click here to ask a
Dollar Stretcher Stretchpert!
Copyright 1996 - 2013 "The Dollar Stretcher, Inc." All rights reserved unless specifically noted.
Contact the Dollar Stretcher at:
PO Box 14160
Bradenton FL 34280
"The Dollar Stretcher, Inc." does not assume responsibility for advice given. All advice should be weighed against your own abilities and circumstances and applied accordingly. It is up to the reader to determine if advice is safe and suitable for their own situation.