The Frugal Baker & Soft Oatmeal Sandwich Bread

Friday, August 27, 2010

From the very beginning, home cooks have held firmly to the values of economy and thrift. We as bakers can carry on with that tradition in our daily lives by watching for opportiunities that will saave us a few dimes here and there. Not that the savings will make or break us. it's more for our psychic balance sheet, the satisfaction that comes with knowing we're putting our resources to full use instead of squandering them. That said, here are some baking habits up for adoption.

* Use butter wrappers to butter pans with. The best ones come from soft sticks of butter because more of the butter clings to the wrapper.

* Don't throw away any egg washes you glaze yeast breads with (or yolks or whites that are not needed in a recipe). Use them in pancakes, waffles, for an omelet, or anywhere else you'd use an egg. Another option, if the bread recipe itself includes and egg, is to beat the egg before adding it to the dough and then reserve a teaspoon or so of it for the wash.

* Use potato cooking water in bread. It's a shame to throw out that good stuff.

* By the same token, incorporate leftover mashed potatoes or squash in your baked goods, particularly yeast breads.

* Make bread crumbs from stale bread. I just use a box grater for this and then toast them briefly in the oven on a baking sheet. Or just give your stale bread to your backyard poultry.

* Wash out empty honey and molasses jars with a small amount of hot water. Put the lid on, shake it up, and use ut as parat of the liquid in yeast breads. Or loosen it by putting the entire jar in a saucepan of water set over a low heat.

* Turn your pastry scraps into something yummy!

* If you have the storage space and the cash, and you bake often, buy in bulk. This way you always pay less for honey, flour, maple syrup, whatever. One other nice thing about buying in bulk: you aren't always running out of something.

What are your best frugal baking tips?

Sharing one of my favorite everyday bread recipes.

Soft Oatmeal Sandwich Bread
(Printable Version)

1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
2 cups hot milk
½ cup honey
¼ cup lukewarm water
1 pkg (or 2-1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1/3 cup buttermilk
1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 large egg
1 Tbsp salt
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
3 to 3-1/2 cups unbleached flour
2 extra Tbsp of oats for sprinkling on top

Put the oats in a large mixing bowl and pour the hot milk over them. Stir in the honey and allow to cool to body temperature. Meanwhile, put the water in a small bowl and stir in the yeast. Set aside for 5 minutes to dissolve. Once the oats have cooled, stir in the dissolved yeast, the buttermilk and the whole wheat flour and beat vigorously for 1 minute with a wooden spoon. Cover this sponge with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes in a warm, draft-free spot.

Using a wooden spoon, beat in the egg, salt and butter until well blended. Add the unbleached flour, ½ cup at a time, beating well after each addition. When the dough is too dense to stir, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, periodically dusting your kneading surface with flour; knead gently at first to prevent the dough from sticking. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning it to coat the entire surface of the dough with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside, in a warm draft-free post, until the dough is doubled in bulk. Butter 2 4-1/2X8-1/2-inch loaf pans and sprinkle the inside pf each with about 1 Tbsp of oats.

When the dough has doubled, punch it down, kneed briefly, and divide in half. Shape the halves into loaves and place them into the prepared pans. Cover loosely and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, preheating the oven to 375°F when the loaves appear nearly doubled.

Bake the loaves for approximately 40 minutes, until nicely browned. When done, the bottom crusts should give a hollow sound when thumped with your finger. Cool the loaves on a rack before slicing. Store in sealed plastic bags. Makes 2 loaves.

Sharing at Michael Lee's Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum! Happy Friday Everyone!!