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Make or Buy: Sandwich Bread

Every other Monday (or so) I'll be posting my evaluation of whether you should make or buy something. They'll be Make or Buy Mondays! Enjoy this little teaser about Sandwich Bread. Next week...professional photography.

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I don't think I've ever met a bread I didn't just love. Italian, rye, wheat, multigrain, pumpernickel, focaccia, olive oil, sweet breads, quick breads, you name it, I love it. In our area, there are a number of super delicious bakeries whose bread will knock your socks off. The one that's closest to my house even offers half off all their remaining bread for the day from 5:30-6 p.m. HALF OFF, people! I have been known to fill my Sante Fe to the brims with bread and spend the next two hours dividing and storing in freezer bags. I've also been known to slice off tiny bites of their ingenious olive focaccia until (unapologetically) the whole sheetcake-sized thing was in mah belleee. So yeah, I love bread. Good, handmade, delicious bread.

And I buy the cheap quick stuff at the grocery store too, because frankly, I love that stuff too. I'm not gonna lie. I eat my share of peanut butter sandwiches on generic light wheat bread. Like one a day, if by "one" you mean "at least two".

Years ago, I tried the whole bread machine thing and HATED it (sorry, bread machine lovers). Where's the fun in plopping all the ingredients, in a very precise order, into a bucket, pushing a button and walking away? Blah, boring! But within the past year or so, I've found myself becoming really interested in efficiency and frugality and at some point decided that trying again to make my own bread might be a way to save money and be good to my family. I did some searches and found all the recipes to be woefully overcomplicated and time-consuming for a full-time working mama.

Until...

Until I stumbled across this little gem.

Five minutes a day? Surely you jest! But I was soon to find out just how easy (and still intensely gratifying) this method is.

Initially when I saw this book had been released, I bought it as a birthday present for my dear friend Latoya, but I secretly coveted it for myself. I visited the book's website and subscribed to their RSS feed (stalker). Soon I found the authors had actually published one of the book's recipes on their site, so I quickly whipped up my first batch of bread--a yumdiliumptous brioche which I stuffed with spinach, parmesan and garlic. YUM!

It was so ridiculous, I made another loaf, with cinnamon sugar and apples. <eyes roll back in head, hips spread>

Oh help me please. Did I mention this recipe called for something like 13 sticks of butter?

Yes, this was good stuff. And then my husband asked me to cease making bread as he was going to start the South Beach Diet. Foiled!

So what does this all have to do with sandwich bread? Well, I figured if I could make three different kick-butt snack breads from one recipe, surely I could rock the light wheat sandwich bread (completely defying my darling husband's express request for a total bread-baking ban). I took a look at my trusty recipe and saw the ingredients were as straightforward as they come. Two flours, yeast, salt and water. Awesome.

I start to assemble the ingredients. Wanna know the recipe? Buy the book!

And I am not pulling your leg when I tell you that it took me about as long to make this bread as it does to make a box of brownies. No lie. And that includes taking the time to photograph the loveliness along the way. Okay, so maybe I'm a slow brownie maker, but hey, this bread was easy peasy.

And while it sat to rise, I was able to use those two hours to wash all the dishes. Kidding! Look at how many dishes I had to wash. Seven. Seven dishes.

After the rise, I couldn't wait to get moving on the bread, so I whipped off a couple pounds of the dough and quickly shaped it according to the book (more on this in a moment), sliced the obligatory little scallops in it and popped it in the oven.

35 minutes later, I had a glorious loaf of bread and a house that smelled divine (AND a sleeping baby, but I doubt that had anything to do with the yums in the oven, but still--BONUS!).

You know what makes this super awesometabulous? I still have enough dough in the fridge to make three more loaves. AND it will be just fine sittin' in the fridge for 14 more days (not that we're going to let it sit that long, no siree).

So there.

imanimama's VERDICT:

Delicious bread that makes a downright enviable sammich. I even cut a couple slices, spread on some tomato sauce and sprinkled on some cheese and myself a lovely little pizza snack one night. At dinner, when Sean came to the table with a three-inch thick slice (rolls eyes), he said, "bread's really good," to which I replied, "it's really good with butter." And he said, "it's really good plain." THAT'S good bread!

Effort was seriously minimal, as was time and cost. I'm thinking it took a total of 30 minutes' active effort for one loaf and maybe $0.75 of ingredients. Then there's the satisfaction of saying, "yeah, I made that bread, eat up, y'all!"

On a well-planned Sunday afternoon, I say yeah, make your own bread. And since this method makes enough for you to whip up a little more even after work...yeah, make it, friends! But in an emergency...if you're plum out of bread and your kiddos INSIST on a PBJ. Right. Now. In that case, go on and buy it.

Now will someone please pass the butter? Mmmmm...

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