Making breads and doughs. Freeze them in batches for 3-4wks, or parbake then freeze. Great for tasty homemade loaves of bread, often a good hobby & stress outlet if you hand-knead and shape. Making pizza dough at home and freezing mini calzones for snacks or portion controlled lunches. Just delicious.
Bread takes time to rise but is delicious and inexpensive to make. You can make with as little as flour, sourdough culture or yeast, and water, but salt, sugar, eggs, and oil help add flavor and nutrition. As you add eggs remove an equivalent amount of water, an easy way to do this is fill the measuring cup with available eggs then finish with water. Using yeast means that you do not have to air culture a bowl of flour paste into sourdough, which takes several days. If it is just too cold in your food prep area to keep a culture active or even to let bread rise (try a closed cardboard box with a small wick candle inside, placed in a fireplace for fire safety) try our pancake or cake recipe.
Mix sugar, warm water, and yeast into one large bowl and let it proof (reproduce) while working the other ingredients. Let it proof a long time for a strong yeasty flavor. Once you have a thriving bubbling yeast bowl, you can mix it into the bread bowl with the eggs, flour, oil, eggs, salt, and more sugar if you want a sweet bread. Lots of olive oil and herbs makes a tasty foccacia. Of course if you want to make a granola, fruity, or nutty bread go nuts, ground beans are a great way to balance the amino acids for full nutrition. Try this first and then experiment to your liking:
1 1/2 cups warm water (feels warm to hand, not burning hot)
1 Tbps sugar
1 tps salt
4 cups flour
1 Tbs yeast
Once you have your bread and punched it down you are ready to make a loaf. Let it rise again and bake it at 350F(180C) until it starts to brown on top. If you make a funky loaf at first, try again, as you will develop a feel for the consistency of a dough after a few tries. Ground whole wheat flour or sourdough leavening take more time to soften and rise especially in a cold place, you should mix your dough wet and sticky in the morning and let it rise covered in a bowl all day maybe even longer in winter, it will be much softer and lighter than if you use the quick recipes we mention.
Bread rolled into long sticks is a quicker way to cook your bread, they are also easier if you want to dip into a sauce or spread.
Another easy recipe for very fast but real tasty bread contains only three ingredients, at least two of which you're likely to have around:
3 c. self rising flour
3 tbsp. sugar
12 fluid ounces beer (which provides the yeast flavor)
Stir all ingredients together in a large bowl, pour into a greased bread pan or casserole dish, and bake for 30-40 minutes in a preheated 350F oven. Darker beers, such as a stout like Guinness, give the bread a richer flavor; but any kind of beer will do. (Don't worry about getting drunk from this. As the beer bakes, the alcohol evaporates.
Mix 1/2 cup of room temperature water and 1/2 cup flour in a jar, use half of the starter in pancakes or something every day during startup so you don't waste and add back 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup flour mix, try to keep the starter between 80F and 100F (30-38C) too cold and it will take forever, too hot and it will die. After two to five days it will be bubbly and beer or yeasty smelling, you have a starter. You can jump start a sourdough culture by begging a pinch of yeast from a bakery and adding it to the flour paste or adding a few unwashed organic grape skins or using organic wheat flour which are higher in natural yeast. Now keep it alive warm, damp, and covered with a cloth, mix once or twice a day, just keep using and feeding it flour and water. It is OK to refrigerate it once it is running, you can use the cloth held on with a rubber band or punch a hole in the lid to allow ventilation.
To make sourdough bread, mix one cup of water and one cup of water and 1/2 cup starter and let proof (bio-populate) overnight, this is called the proof sponge. Now you can use the proof sponge instead of yeast substituting out one cup of flour and water from the bread recipe. Be sure to add some of the proof sponge and some flour and water back into your starter every time you bake bread to replace what came out for proofing. If possible keep some sourdough starter in a cold place like a refrigerator or outside in winter so you don't have to feed it every day, just once a week or so, you can pour off the clear or dark liquid on top if you want to, it is high in alcohol but disgusting. It will take much longer for this bread to rise than hyperactive store yeast but it will have a soft rich tasty sourdough flavor.
For dim-sum buns, make your dough by adding 1/4 cup sugar and 2 Tbs oil to the basic bread recipe. Roll and flatten dough into discs six inches wide, add a filling using 1Tbs of sweet stir fry per bun, twist the buns shut and make that side the bottom. Let the buns rise for about half an hour, steam for 10-20 min on wax paper or baking sheet squares. Wrap in cling plastic and freeze for storage, to reheat microwave or steam the wrapped bun.
Steam is also a way to bake whole loafs but it will have a different consistency then regular bread softer with a delicate white crust. If you find dry stale bread you can revive it by steaming for ten minutes and then a quick run in a hot oven.
A nice loaf of store-bought bread can also make a rather nutritious, albeit boring meal. If you pay attention to what you buy, you can get a loaf that, if you eat enough slices, will fulfill the overwhelming majority of your nutritional needs. Most chain supermarkets will place loaves of day-old bread or pastries from the bakery section on sale. Be sure to check this area if your local store has one.
If you come across a large stash of day old bread while dumpster diving and are unable to give away or eat all of the wealth put the loaves or buns out in the hot sun and let them dry hard while keeping the birds away. Dry bread can last up to a few weeks and can be steamed back to softness, eaten dipped in soup, or used to make french toast. Hang your bag of bread to prevent mice from getting at your stash.
As Marie Antoinette is reputed to have said to the poor French lower classes who were without bread and revolting against the crown; "Let them eat cake". Our cake is quicker than bread to prepare, and can be baked in many ways even if you are without an oven or gas. The recipe below is based on one from the 1930's often called "Depression Cake" (Originally it was made without butter, eggs or milk, since those were hardest to come by at that time). It can be modified using less sugar and adding vegetable chunks and soft corn if you like to eat it with a regular meal. You can remove the baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) and vinegar and use baking powder (2 tsp) but remember that baking powder is very moisture sensitive and can go flat. No rising agents lead to a cake that is heavy and tough. Shaved chocolate bar can be used like cocoa but is not as strong flavored. The other flavors and spices can be added if they are available. Cut and wrap a sheet cake for a days food on the move.
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup vegetable oil, shortening, unsalted margarine, or butter
2 Tbsp. vinegar
2 cup cold water, or cold brewed coffee, or fruit juice (juice can substitute for some or all sugar)
You can mix an egg or two into the second cup of water (in the measuring cup) for a softer cake.
Any or a mix of - vanilla, almond or lemon extract; sweet spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice); unsweetened cocoa; chocolate chips, chunks, or shavings; dry or chunk fruits and berries; ground or chopped nuts; citrus peel shavings; freeze dried coffee; peanut butter; raisins, prunes.
Rub oil on your frying pan, folded aluminum foil or clean paper tray, or 9-by-13 inch baking pan and evenly sprinkle down some flour to coat the bottom (to prevent sticking). Preheat oven to 350F or prepare coals. Mix dry ingredients together first and then quickly add all of the liquid ingredients, mix only as long as it takes to get a smooth mixture. Pour batter into your pan and immediately begin cooking. Bake, steam, or place your pan above a fire or coals or a hot plate on a low setting with a lid or cover until a toothpick or fork comes out clean when poked into the middle of the cake, between 20 min to an hour depending on thickness and ingredients. Wait 20 min to cool then serve, cut up and wrap, or frost. Good sweet spices include cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, and some also use anise and fennel seed. Adding freeze dried coffee to chocolate cake is great for waking up before midnight actions.
With the alternative cooking methods practice is required and don't be surprised if you get a hard bottom crust if you cook over a fire. You could also try putting the batter into folded foil pockets or leaf wraps and put at the edge of the red hot coals, oil the inside of the foil if possible and fill less than half full since the cake will rise when cooking.
An easy glaze frosting, like what is on a donut, is made by simmering water or orange juice, starch, and sugar for a minute or two. Frosting is made with butter or oil and powdered sugar. You can add cocoa if you like. Frosting keeps the cake fresh longer by making a barrier for escaping moisture.
Hardtack is little more than a large cracker that, if kept dry, could stay edible for months, perhaps years. It's broken and mixed with some liquid (hot water, broth, etc.) to make a porridge, or to thicken soups or stews. If you make enough in advance, it can be eaten on the march or at camp. Hardtack has been known as "sheet metal" or "molar breakers" because it is very hard and dense, so don't try to eat it like a regular saltine. A recipe from the WikiMedia Cookbook follows:
2 cups of flour
1/2 to 1/4 cup water
6 pinches of salt
1 tablespoon of shortening (optional, feels more filling and adds calories)
Mix all the ingredients into a batter and press onto a cookie sheet to a thickness of 1/2 inch.
Bake in a preheated oven at 400°F (205°C) for one hour.
Remove from oven, cut dough into 3-inch squares, and punch four rows of holes, four holes per row into the dough (a fork works nicely).
Flip the crackers and return to the oven for another half hour.