Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Our Daily Bread

One of the hardest adjustments I’ve had to being married is only cooking for two people. At home, I would cook for 5 – myself, my parents, my brother and sister. In college, I would cook for a bare minimum of 3, but we had so many friends in and out of our apartment that left-overs never lasted more than a couple hours. If I didn’t feel up to cooking, someone else would step in, and if they didn’t, the local pizza place offered $5 pizzas ready when you walked in to pick it up. No planning was required.

Well, life isn’t like that anymore. I’ve had to adjust to cooking for two; one of whom (myself) has never liked left-overs and refuses to eat them if it can be avoided. Shaune’s a good sport and usually takes last night’s dinner for lunch to the office, but we still seem to have more food than we can handle. I’ve tried halving recipes or freezing some for later, various things that all seem to work at least sometimes. But one of the things I’ve practically given up on is fresh, hot, wonderful, homemade bread.

Until now!

Last weekend I was perusing my various cookbooks for ideas and came across one for “Refrigerator Bread.” It is dough that you can mix up and leave in the fridge until you need it. In fact, it has to rise for at least 24 hours. So, I made up a batch on Sunday, then packed it into four separate containers. Each has enough dough for 6-8 rolls. Monday night I pulled out the first container – we had friends coming over for dinner and hot rolls were on the menu. Although the dough was very sticky, they turned out PERFECT! I gave one of the packs to our friends who came over. We cooked up some tonight to use as hamburger buns. We’ve got one left for fresh bread later in the week.

I think I’ve finally come up with a system for our small, bread-loving family. I can have fresh bread in less than an hour – ½ to rise, ½ to cook. I can satisfy my carb-tooth whenever I want. I think I’ll be making a batch of dough most weekends from here on out!

I wanted to share the recipe if anyone’s interested:
  • 3/4 c hot water
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt (I used much less without any ill effects)
  • 1/4 c shortening (I used margarine)

Combine so sugar and shortening can melt. Let cool til lukewarm then add:

  • 1 c warm water
  • 2 packs Active Dry Yeast (I buy yeast by the pound and used about 1 tbsp)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 5 1/4 c flour, give or take

Beat until smooth. Dough remains soft and sticky. Place into greased bowl and cover with waxed paper/plastic wrap/lid. Store in refrigerator until doubled, or until needed up to 1 week. To bake, shape as desired. Allow to rise until doubled and bake at 375 until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Makes about 32 rolls.


Gillian said...

You might really like the book "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day". It's a similar concept - a wet dough, refrigerated until needed. (I like the fact that most of the recipes don't require sugar!) I've just started using it and it's great. It does suggest (although not absolutely require) some specialty equipment like a baking stone, but I'm finding we use it enough it was worth the $15 we spent for the stone.

And - hooray for fresh bread! It's one of the best things in the world :)

Emily G. said...

Thanks for the recipe! I usually make French bread a few times a week when it's not too hot, but sometimes I end up buying bread on busy days. This sounds nice to have around for those busy days.