Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Pardus Uses Child Labor to Make Dough



Ok, it's back-to-school time. Reading this blog, I'm sure you pack your kid's lunch, but if your kid is anything like mine, the Ciabatta bill is gonna be into triple digits -per-month. So...in order to afford the demand for Parma Prosciutto instead of PB&J, I had to come up with an financially sound, educationally prodcutive, emotionally satisfying, and FUN way to quell the carbo craving of a 10 year old food snob.

A few months ago, Ruhlman challenged me to bake my own bread each day - too simple and too cheap not to, he said - only a whimp would buy when it was so simple to make. Hmmm...I felt a reverse snowstorm effect brewing if I didn't at least TRY to get there. So I did...turned out to be amazingly simple - less than 10 minutes a day of active work, easily incorporated into the daily routine. So much so that when my daughter started back to school and wanted WHITE bread in her lunch, I just told her "make it yourself".

And she did, and has continued. We find that it helps us bond, gives us something to do while we talk and unwind; she finds that it increases her social status in the lunch room - "I baked it myself, want some?"; and I find that I can tie it into math, science, social studies, and art.

Ruhlman is right - a well organized adult can whip out two loaves a day in less than 10 minutes active work. Toss in the bonding and fun factors and it's a 30 minute routine that we enjoy almost every day - especially now that her market share in the lunch room has overtaken Pillsbury's.

You'll need:

A Kitchen Aide mixer with dough hook(or similar stand-up, heavy duty machine)
A digital scale
A vessel for holding 300 ml water
A set of measuring spoons
A rubber spatula
A dough cutter (bench scraper)
A sack of Bread Flour (we use King Arthur brand Bread Flour)
A box of salt
A jar of active dry yeast
An oven
A cookie sheet (sheet tray) or some ceramic oven tiles
A bread peal
A sack of corn meal
A spray bottle with water
A willing 10 year old food snob

Ingredients:
500 grams flour
300 grams warm water
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
15 grams (1 1/2 Tablespoons) Salt

Method:

Meet kid at bus stop
Talk about the day and offer to make a light snack (keep it light as as not to diminish motivation)
While you make snack, have kid set up station (watching Ratatouille several times before hand helps keep things clean here)
Weigh empty water vessel, tare scale to zero
Add warm water to vessel, check weight at 300 grams
Add yeast to water, stir, allow to sit
Zero scale, weigh mixing bowl, tare scale to zero
Weigh 500 grams of bread flour into mixong bowl
Add 15 grams salt to flour
Place mixing bowl - with flour and salt - onto mixer and attach dough hook
Turn machine onto "low" setting
Add yeast and water to flour mixture - don't' be afraid to add a "splash" more water to help get all of the yeast out.
Increase speed of machine to combine liquid and solids. Stop machine and scrape down sides into center, if needed, to combine
Set timer for 12 minutes, allow bread to knead until timer goes off
Remove hook and bowl from machine, remove dough from hook.
Pat dough down into bottom of bowl, cover bowl with kitchen towel or plastic wrap and allow to sit until dough has doubled in volume - about 1 hour (enough to do 5th grade homework or practice trumpet and clean bedroom).
Remove dough from bowl, divide into 10 equal portions and shape into rolls for sharing at Lunch table.
Place shaped dough onto dough peal which has been dusted with corn meal or coarse flour.
Place kitchen towel over rolls and allow to rise again while oven (with tiles or cookie sheet) is preheated to 375 degrees F.
When rolls have doubled in size, remove towel and slide rolls off of peal and onto hot tiles or sheet.
Spray water into hot oven - about 6-8 "spritzes" - and close the door.
Set oven timer for 20 minutes and bake until rolls are a light golden.
Remove rolls from oven, place on mesh rack to cool, call kid into kitchen and allow 1 hot roll - with butter - to be consumed before they cool.
When rolls are cool, place in zip lock bag, pack into school bag the following morning, and wait until kid returns with head full of "awesome" praise to repeat.

If you're lucky, you can tie this in with math - ratios, division, metric conversion; science - yeast growth and by-products of CO2 and alcohol; social studies - breads of the world/staff of life; and manual dexterity/arts and crafts.

And it's gonna save you $25 bucks a week in bread bills...honest.

29 comments:

Arundathi said...

Hmm... I wonder if Ruhlman would recommend this to someone who lives in India, where we don't get bread flour or KitchenAid mixers.

I recently started baking bread and love doing it, but everyday without a mixer? not so much.

Linda said...

I make my own bread and have for years now. I always hope to improve, but now make it primarily for economic reasons. But kneading my own bread forces me to slow down to a meditative state, which is very good for me, plus it tastes great! So, make bread!

Bob del Grosso said...

I've been baking bread once or twice a week for about 8 years and I'm not so sure that at the end of the day I save any money.
Pre-heating my oven to 550 degrees with a stone in the bottom takes about twenty five minutes (approx 3X longer than without the stone) so the energy cost is substantial.

But it's worth it anyway. Bread like I make cannot be bought where I live. No brag, just fact.

ride&cook said...

I'm with linda on the hand kneading, it is sublimely relaxing after a busy day. Baking bread is one of my favorite pleasures, especially when it's snowing.

Mike Pardus said...

Bob - I use LP gas to fire my oven - costs me about $65 quarterly, so I'm saving.

Linda - We like to hand knead on weekends for fun.

Arundathi - try a blend of Atta flour and "American" flour - "All Purpose". I'll try to source a Kitchne Aide for you if you really want, I've seen them in a hotel in Kochi, so they must be available somewhere.

ntsc said...

Since my employer decided yesterday it wasn't working out between us, I will have the time to do this.

I've been baking bread off and on for most of the 34 years I worked for them so it isn't a new skill, although I can no longer hand knead because of a hand problem.

Tags said...

So when's the Pardus bake-off gonna start?

Have you decided what the Grand Prize is yet?

Pillsbury offers a million bucks, but their stuff is hydrogenated so you shouldn't have to offer as much.

Mike Pardus said...

Tags - Add "underwriters" and "sponsors" to the list of things I'm trolling for here.....

redman said...

good recipe! sounds like a worthwhile activity. I agree that hand kneading is satisfying but after you do it enough you find that using the machine, especially if it's to make the bread you eat on a daily basis, makes a busy life a little easier!

Maura said...

I've been making bread for almost 30 years (currently, I make it every other day*), and have never used a mixer. It's just me and my wooden spoon. It's not that hard, unless like ntsc, you have problems with your hands. Then, yes, a mixer would be required. Otherwise, get in there and get your hands all messy.

It's not cheaper than buying bread, but it's hard to find really good bread in Durham. And I love doing it, so why not?

*the bake setting on my oven is still not working, but I've figured out how to use the low broil setting.

Mike Pardus said...

Maura and BDG - you've both said that making is NOT cheaper than buying bread. What am I missing?

50# sack of flour makes 45 loaves costs $23.00

3 4oz jars of instant yeast costs $30 - makes 45 loaves

1.5# salt makes 45 loaves, costs $1

LP gas costs about 18 cents (if I assume $65 for 90 days and that bread baking uses 25% of my oven time)

Total it all up and I'm looking at $1.20 per loaf. Ciabatta at the local store is $4.75 per loaf - by my accounting I'm saving over $3.50 per loaf....where's the flaw in my calculations?

I like doing it and will continue, but I don't like kidding myself about my reasons....

Scotty said...

Mike, I believe your cost estimates, and I make breads about four times a week. I cannot see a way that baking your own is more expensive - especially if you buy in bulk. My Bread Flour is a bit less expensive than yours, but my natural gas costs are a bit more than LP.

However, I do need to mention Charles Van Over and his use of a food processor. If you need (kneed) dough quick it's a great theory which works. I prefer slower methods but the food processor method does give good results.

redman said...

you could consider the cost of the "capital equipment", ie, the mixer, and add that into the cost of the bread, not to mention charging yourself a "living wage" for your time, plus the occupancy costs of the roof over your kitchen ... I think the bread is still cheaper to make yourself. The bulk flour I buy is $.50/# which is roughly the same as y'alls.
What I want to try is the no knead thing from Bittman, and another recipe I have (no time to link to it right now) for dough you leave in fridge for 2 weeks, pulling out a piece each day to bake

Scotty said...

Ah, but redman, you must amortize the investment in equipment over its expected lifetime, which in my personal experience is, absent theft, a very long time. So the addition to the cost of bread for buying a Kitchen Aid is negligible.

And it also grinds meat . . .

MessyONE said...

My mother used to bake bread about once a month - 25 loaves at a time. She loathed being inside, summer or winter, so she'd pick a day that looked like it was going to be foul outside and bake.

She used a bowl the size of a laundry sink, a whole lot of flour, and it seemed that she kneaded for hours. Probably she did. There was no real recipe involved that I remember, and if she ran out of loaf pans, she made cinnamon buns or doughnuts with whatever was left.

We had three freezers, one for bread/cakes/cookies, one for meat and one for veggies. All were generally full at any given time. We never bought bread. When I first had grocery store bread, I thought it was foul. Still do, actually.

Since we were semi-rural, it never occurred to me as a kid to question any of this. We were capital P Poor, and that's what you did. As it is, I think we ate a whole lot better than our peers who didn't garden, etc.

Now I go to the Red Hen Bakery and stock up every once in a while. It's ridiculously expensive (a fruit loaf called amie de fromage is about eight bucks), but it's the best there is in this city.

I never learned how to make bread myself, so I think I'll try the recipe, for which many thanks.

Bob del Grosso said...

Mike
23 dollars for 50# of flour? Tell me you aren't buying it through the CIA. I pay 65 bucks for a bag of hi-gluten bread flour adding in the shipping charge makes it 75 dollars for 50# That's a 1.50 per pound or 3 bucks for a two pound loaf of bread minus the yeast, salt and water.

I'm not sure what it costs to run my oven for an 1.5 hours at an average temp of 500 degrees. But I'll make an educated guess that with electricity running at $.14 per kWh (from my last bill) and assuming a 550 degree oven consumes about 3.5 kWh of electricity in 1.5 hours of preheat and baking time the energy cost to bake one 2 # loaf of hearth bread is about $.50.

So just for flour and energy the 2# loaf is $3.50. Add in the cost of my labor and I'd have to charge $120 for that loaf to break even.

Scotty said...

Bob, having had the honor of meeting you in person I need to ask where the frak are you buying your bread flour?

I buy hi-gluten from local food service suppliers (open to the general public) for about what Chef Pardus spends. Do I need to smuggle you flour as well as stuff from the Sausage Maker, Inc. the next time I visit?

Mike Pardus said...

I do buy my flour through CIA, but it should be noted that it was suggested I buy the "local, organic" brand for $49.00/50#....c'mon!

King Artur is based out of Vermont - local enough for me and "Never Bleached, Never Bromated" is close enough to "organic" for me too...

And, just askin', why do you need Hi-glute? KA is about 12%, works well...

As for my time?...shit, should I start charging y'all by the hour?
Some things are for money, others for passion - I'm fortunate to be paid to follow my passion. Factor in $90/hour to hang out with my daughter? I don't think that way.

She said it best, actually, "Love what you do and you'll never work a day in your life". I'm sure she stole it from somewhere, but it describes my life view perfectly.

I hang out, teach,bond,and reinforce that credo to my child...try buying that on the open market for $1.20 per loaf.

Maura said...

I don't think that making bread costs any more than buying it, but I doubt it costs a lot less. Obviously,that depends on how much bread costs in any given area. We can buy a great baguette at a local restaurant for $1.75 (and it's probably the only local place I can find great bread). I still prefer to make my own.

Redman, I've been using the no-knead recipe for almost two years now (by the way, it's not a Mark Bittman recipe, it's a Jim Lahey recipe. Bittman wrote about it and made it popular). It's very easy, but I quickly discovered that 1) it's better if you knead it; and 2) it didn't feel right to me not to knead it. It doesn't take much time, because the extended rise time creates a lot of the flavor. Even 5 minutes of kneading makes it better.
I use lots of water - a good two cups of water with three cups of flour. It's a little messy with that much water (more of a problem if you do everything by hand), but it creates a fabulous crust.

Linda said...

Maura - I made the no-knead bread one entire summer, but then followed Nancy Silverton's advise and started using my sourdough to make bread and her recipes are divine! They taught me so much that I now know how to bake the bread I want based on her take on the science of bread-baking (a more poetic description of a scientific process).

Mike and Bob - Because I'm so rural and because I don't have a tax ID for food, the shipping costs add a lot to flour purchased locally. However, I do get deals for buying in bulk, both Montana flour and Giusto's flour. My electric stove heats up quickly and stays quite hot so it's very efficient. And I don't bake just one loaf at a time; rather I make several and then freeze some. It's not an ideal situation, but again, it works for the rural life. Oh and the flour I do buy is organic.

Is it economic? Well, La Brea Bakery bread (dough shipped frozen to the local grocery store and bake there), costs $4.50 a loaf, and most of the other bread available is air-bread. My cost estimates say I'm saving money for a VERY superior product.

Should I be wrong, I'll have about 50 winter squach this season, 24 quarts of haricots verts, 50 lbs. of carrots, 4 18" inch garlic braids, and the list goes on, including venison from people who hunt on my property, Scottish Highland Beef, locally grown and organically fed lamb and pig and I just bought 10 dozen pullets for $10.

Life is good.

Bob del Grosso said...

The texture of no knead bread is inferior and really I do not know why not-kneading is in anyway an improvement.
For whom is kneading dough a problem? Or put another way, if you cannot knead dough you probably should not be in a kitchen for any reason other than to loot the icebox.

And baking bread, one loaf at time in a Dutch oven (as per the no-knead process), may be brilliant for campfire cooking but -if you know how to bake- a waste of time.

The only thing good about the no-knead is the dialog about how bread happens that opened up following the publication of the recipe.

Maura said...

The texture of no knead bread is inferior and really I do not know why not-kneading is in anyway an improvement.

I don't see it as an improvement either, Bob. The technique- using lots of water and covering the dough for the first 30 minutes to create that wonderful crust- is what I like. I knew that spraying the dough with some water would make a better crust, but I never made the leap to figure out that adding more water to the dough would do the same thing. (Yes, I'm slow sometimes.) And you can do that with any bread. It's essentially flour, salt and water anyway.

Linda, Nancy Silverton is the Queen, isn't she? Using grapes instead of yeast in a starter is something I would never have thought of. Although my foray into making her sourdough starter was what can only be called a comedy of errors. More than a few tears of frustration were shed, as one starter after another died, always due to circumstances beyond my control. I should have just put that "bitch" in the freezer.

Arundathi said...

Mike - thanks for the offer - I've tried the all-purpose, but not the atta - I'll give it a shot.

I'll be a little more diligent in my search for a KitchenAid - if they're in Kochi - they must be available in Chennai too! :)

Mike Pardus said...

arundathi-
Atta flour is hard durham wheat flour - similar to semolina. Use it by itself and it may be too glutenous and tough, so try cutting it witha bit of AP to soften.

As far as the KitchenAide is concerned - I tried searching on-line and it looks like the one s in Kochi may have been imported seperately by the hotel - the closest KitchenAide distributors seem to be Cairo and Singapore.

I have a couple of chef contacts in Kashmire, I'll see if they can offer any advice - then of course there's the 110/220 obstacle to overcome....

keep in touch, I hate not being able to figure a way around a problem....

MessyONE said...

Arundathi -

Would it be easier to get hold of a big Kenwood? They're terrific mixers that can more than handle the capacity that you want. They are extremely tough and versatile, and I like their power take-off better than Kitchenaid's. (That said, I have a Kitchenaid. It's pretty.)

Don't bother with the Cuisinart's new heavy-duty mixer. I took a look at their latest offering and not only did it seem - well - kinda lightweight, it was WAY too complicated. Also ridiculously expensive.

Peter said...

Sounds great - ill try it out this week, after I make a double batch of tabouli so my parsley harvest doesn't go to waste, and then use my dehydrator for the 1st time to make dried strawberries, peaches, and bananas.

Any recipes for something a little more whole whaety or grainy?
Can I use kamut flour or other hardy flours? in what combinations and adjustments?

Mike Pardus said...

Peter - I make a mix of spelt, wheat berries, rice, and flax seed all ground up in my spice grinder (Krups Coffee grinder) and add about 50 grams to replace and equal amount of flour. I'm not familiar with Kamut flour, but if it's just a hard, high gluten wheat flour it should work well, you can add more whole grain mix if you wish - it just makes it more dense. The more woater you add the lighter the texture, but the stickier and more difficult it is to shape the dough. 5:3 is a good place tp start, but don't let that stop you from moving the numbers around to suit yourself - that's the idea behind ratios - they give yo a base line to play from.

Scotty said...

Mike, if I may call you that, you asked: why do you need Hi-glute? KA is about 12%, works well...

My answer is simple - economics. KA Bread flour is a great product and available at a local grocery at 39.90/50#. If you aren't that lucky, it's 62.00/50# including shipping from KA.

By contrast, I buy Gold Medal All Trumps High Gluten for 23.00/50#. At 14% it is equivalent to KA's Sir Lancelot, which would cost me about 138.00/50# from KA.

And I can always blend it with all-purpose if I need it softer. YMMV

Arundathi said...

Mike - I did try the atta and apf together and enjoyed it. Thanks! The kneading is the best part of making bread (other than the wonderful smell of fresh baked bread, of course), so I definitely agree that the no-knead bread defeats the purpose.

messyone - thanks for the tip about kenwood. can you believe i went to 3 stores only to be told that the juicers, mixies and grinders are available from kenwood but not the food processor (and - lol - no one's even heard of a dough hook!)

i went to a couple of hotel bakeries only to be told they import everything (even the mattresses) from Singapore or thereabouts.

I'm giving up and gonna continue kneading and making bread once a week. Quite happy to get that time actually. :)