Something simple I like to try to do every week, is make a loaf of bread.
I typically don't buy any at the store because it is really easy to do at home and it doesn't take much time! We think it has better flavor and texture, too.
Here's what to do:
This recipe is VERY basic. There are plenty of more complicated ones, but this basic bread works for us.
Prep time is approx. 15 min.
Cook time is 30 min.
You will need these tools:
Dutch oven or large cast iron pot
Mixing spoon/clean hands
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour + Some for handling the dough
1 tablespoon active bread yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
The sugar helps the yeast activate. The more active your yeast are, the more your dough will rise, and the fluffier your end result will be.
You can find pre-portioned packets of baking/bread yeast at your local grocer in the baking isle, or jars of it. It looks kind of like small seeds.
Add all of your dry ingredients together in a bowl
Whisk together so they are evenly mixed
Then add your warm water - warm, not hot, also helps to activate the yeast more so than cold. If it is too hot, it may kill off the active yeast.
Get to mixin' - I start with a spoon to get it going, then I remove my rings and knead (mush with hands like playdough) it for a few minutes, until everything is combined.
*Kids love to help with this!
Let it rest. Once the bread dough is well mixed, it is time to let it rise. Even bread understands what a good night's sleep will do for you.
Let the bread rise for at least an hour, but preferably let it go overnight for the beat results. You may be disappointed with the lack of fluffy-ness in your load if you try to bake it too soon (which I understand because it is hard to wait - I know from experience). I just cover it on the counter overnight and let it go.
...And in the morning, I'm makin' fresh loaves!
The following morning (or however many hours later you could wait) you should find your dough expanded to fill the bowl like a balloon.
At this time, preheat your oven with the dutch oven pot in it, to 450°.
Scoop out the dough and knead again with some flour on your hands, and a floured surface, so it is easy to handle.
Form a nice little bundle and if you like, you can cut an "X" shape in the top of the bread with a knife for a nice touch.
When the oven is up to temp, take out the dutch oven pot, and place your loaf inside.
Pop it back into the oven to bake for 30. minutes, uncovered.
While the bread is baking I usually make lunches or prepare for work in some way. When it's done, I leave it on the stove to cool and cover it before I head out the door (but not before cutting off a warm slice to go!). The morning prep takes 5 - 10 minutes at best.
Not only is this a more affordable way to get a artisan loaf of bread, there's not much like starting your day with that already under your belt. It's a treat!