Minimal money…what to do?
Well, a couple of weeks ago, when trying to figure out how to squeeze as much out of my teeny, tiny budget as I could, I hit upon the idea of making bread. Flour is less than a dollar a kilo and I already had the yeast in the cupboard, and so close to date it needed to be used, now!
Considering your average loaf these days is more than $3 (even for the cheaper stuff – does anybody else find this horribly wrong?) I decided I could make my own bread for the week.
Warm from the oven.
Soft and fresh.
Comfort warming its way through my nostrils.
So I got cocky and thought I could make a whole bunch of different types. It was fantastic as the recipe was so easy and most of the time is spent resting so I could easily do other things. So, with the bread making sorted in my mind, my husband throws me the now memorable and unforgivable “Raisin Toast Dare”.
My husband, dear, silly man that he is, has underestimated just how much of a sense of achievement I get from cooking and the increase in self esteem that comes from each successful meal. So, having uttered the words “I bet you can’t make raisin toast as good as store bought raisin toast” I set out to prove him wrong!
Hackles raised, emotions in play – barely held in check mind you – I immediately set out gathering the ingredients I’d need for this challenge. In went the plain flour, the sugar, the salt and the yeast. I grabbed a handful of raisins, threw those into the bowl…wait, it needs some more, so in went two more handfuls. Ah, fancy raisin toast has apricots as well. In went some finely chopped dried apricots, then a generous (I do love my cinnamon) shake or three of cinnamon.
Okay, this is good, but it’s missing something. Spice!
Rummaging through my burgeoning spice cupboard I check each colourful packet, thinking, evaluating and deciding, which one do I need? Then I see it, its corner poking out from behind the packet of fenugreek (what the hell is that? and why did I buy that in the first place??), and there it is: mixed spice! Perfect.
So, in goes a teaspoon of the mixed spice, then a little bit more, and a hell of a lot of hope gets mixed around with the dry ingredients. Adding the warm water I make the dough, watching carefully to see if the mix is coming together, seeing if it’s turning that dull white to brownish colour raisin toast usually has.
It’s coming together well. Knead, knead, knead and ta dah…raisin toast dough. Awesome. I can do this.
I sneak a quick, smug look at my husband who has wisely by now put his head into something else and is leaving me alone to prove him wrong. Prove..ha ha ha..excuse the pun. So, after proving time, in the oven goes my raisin toast.
I can smell the cinnamon wafting throughout the small one bedroom apartment where we live. It smells divine and I am praying that this loaf has worked.
40 minutes later and I take my baby from the oven.
Tap, tap, tap.
Sounds good. The bottom is nice and hollow, just like it’s supposed to be.
I can’t wait the five minutes until the bread cools but alas I must. I learnt the hard way that bread needs to cool to be able to be sliced perfectly. So, I grab my bread knife and ease it across the surface of my hoped-to-be masterpiece. I gaze at the middle as it comes into view, weighing up in my head; is it cooked? Is it still doughy? Is there a good spread of raisins? Have the raisins all stuck to the bottom? Have I got the right colour? Will the bread have the right taste?