Saturday, June 30, 2012

Bagels - The Freshly Baked Breakfast

Who can resist this?
I have made bagels a few times throughout the years, with varied success. Usually, the flavor is good, but the height/density can get iffy. Sometimes, they turn out fine (although misshapen when compared to bakery bagels), but other times they look perfect after rising, look perfect in the water...and look like someone sat on them when they come out of the oven. Flat, dense, and not particularly apetizing.

Hrm. Research suggests that over-risen bagels will collapse when boiled, but these didn't – the collapse came in the oven. I'm guessing the reason is the same, though. The only thing I can see that might change it is, unfortunately, being more patient in the process. I feel like Indiana Jones... “Patience. Why does it always have to be patience?!?”

On the surface, this is counterintuitive; it seems that rushing the process (not letting the bagels rise as long) would solve the problem. However, the main step I have failed to follow in my bagel endeavors is adding more time. Most recipes call for retarding the rise in a refrigerator for at least six hours, and preferably overnight. The longest I ever made it was two hours.

Pfiffle, I thought, that's just unnecessary steps to make people feel fancy schmancy with their baking. Unfortunately, it seems to actually make a difference. Luckily, sourdough has helped me see the light in stretching out the process.

Also, Zoey and Parker rarely give me enough time to go through all the steps in one day, anyway.

I decided to go with the base recipe from The Fresh Loaf. They have good forums there that explain the steps and help troubleshoot – I like to check them out when looking up new baking recipes/techniques.

Of course, I didn't follow it completely, as I like adding stuff into my bagels – cheese and jalapenos for Randy and me, and cinnamon/raisin for Zoey. And me.

Also, the recipe calls for bread flour, which I keep putting off buying because it costs twice as much as all-purpose and I'm cheap. And it calls for malt powder which I don't have and couldn't find in WinCo's bulk section (if I can't find a baking ingredient there, it's dead to me)*; I used honey instead, which this recipe said was acceptable as a substitute.

It starts much like sourdough – making a sponge out of about half the flour and yeast and all of the liquid. It's a relatively short rise for a sponge (two hours), and then the remaining ingredients get added and kneaded in. (Full disclosure: I forgot to add the honey here and had to put it in halfway through the knead. It worked, but I don't recommend it. Ever.) This is a different method than the more typical throw-everything-in-a-bowl-and-mix-well routine I've seen before, and has the benefit of activating the yeast before the main flour is in, so the bagel dough itself doesn't have to rise that long.

Sadly, bagel dough is too stiff for my Kitchenaid to knead while I do other things; I have to knead it by hand. The one time I tried to make the mixer do it for me, it made angry sounds and threatened to quit. I rely on it too much to have that happen, so I relented and agreed to knead by hand in the future.

Almost good enough to eat raw.  Only not.
At the end of the knead, I split the dough in half and added in the extra ingredients before dividing and shaping the bagels. If I wasn't making two flavors, I'd have added these in sooner, but it works equally well either way – it's just a bit easier to mix them in before the dough gets too stiff. Two minutes of kneading ensured the ingredients got equally distributed.

The standard method for shaping bagels is to roll the dough into a ball, stick your thumb through the middle, and stretch the dough until it is a ring 4-5 inches in diameter. You can also roll the dough out into a 4-5” circle then poke a hole in the middle. Or make a rope 8-10” long and then pinch the ends together to form a ring. I tried all three so you can see the difference and so I could see if there was a difference in the end result.
Left to right: rolled out, hole-in-ball, and rope methods

After baking
As you can see in these pictures, there is a discernible difference, mainly with the bagels that I rolled out. However, that was probably due to me over-enthusiastically flattening the dough – a problem I had with the hamburger buns I made last week as well. The poke-a-hole-in-the-ball method is my favorite because it seems to have less potential for me to mess it up and those bagels came out looking the most bagel-y, but all three methods are about the same level of effort, so pick your poison.

What could all that meat be for?  Stay posted...
After shaping, let the bagels rise for 20 minutes, then throw them in the fridge overnight. I was silly and made these on the day of our monthly shopping trip, when fridge space is at a premium. Whoops.

Then I was done for the night, which was kind of nice. I celebrated with a beer. Not one of Randy's, because those are being bottled today (a nice Hefeweisen from a kit – made 6 gallons just in time for the sun – they should be carbonated and ready to drink in a couple of weeks).

Boil, my pretties!
The next morning, I boiled and baked the bagels. Boiling separates bagels from bread and gives them their distinctive chewiness. The morning cooking worked out well, since the kids tend to be more cheerful in the morning. Also, I had fresh bagels for breakfast! Even better, my hopes that the longer timeline would help solve the Great Bagel Flattening were upheld. Hooray!

The bagels probably would have risen more had I used a higher-gluten flour (bread flour), but these came out just dandy, so I can pinch my pennies a bit longer.

We probably ate them a little sooner than we should have, because Zoey was standing behind me the entire time saying “Okay, mama, want dinner. Okay, mama, I eat now. Okay, mama, blue seat” (The seat in question is her booster seat). I felt like Gordon Ramsay was standing behind me yelling “How LONG? Get it together! It's a simple breakfast, for God's sake!” Luckily, these don't take long to cook!
My Ultimate Eggwich (fried egg, cheese, bacon, avocado, and tomato.  Not low-cal)

*Luckily for my gluten-free experimentation, I discovered they carry xantham gum in bulk.

1 teaspoon instant yeast ($0.03)
4 cups flour (500g) ($0.32)
2 1/2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon instant yeast ($0.01)
3 3/4 cups flour (470g) ($0.30)
2 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon honey

4 oz cheddar cheese, grated
1/3 – ½ cup nacho jalepenos, chopped roughly
1- 1 ½ c raisins
1 rounded tablespoon cinnamon

Finishing touches:
1 tablespoon baking soda for the water ($0.01)
Cornmeal for dusting the pan ($0.02)

The Night Before
Stir the yeast into the flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the water and stir until all ingredients are blended. Cover and allow to rise for two hours.

Stir the additional yeast into the sponge.
Add 3 cups of the flour, the honey, and the salt into the bowl and mix until all of the ingredients form a ball. Add in any additional ingredients (blueberries, raisins, cheese, etc.) here if you are making the whole batch the same
Work in the additional 3/4 cups of flour to stiffen the dough, either while kneading. The dough should be stiffer and drier than normal bread dough, but moist enough that all of the ingredients are well blended.
Pour the dough out of the bowl onto a clean surface and knead for 10 minutes.
**If you are making multiple flavors, divide the dough in half and add your additional ingredients here**
Split the dough into a dozen small pieces around 4 1/2 ounces each.

Roll each piece into a ball and set it aside. When you have all 12 pieces made, cover them with a damp towel and let them rest for 20 minutes.
Shape the bagels by poking a hole in the middle of each ball and stretching to desired size
Place the shaped bagels on an oiled sheet pan, with an inch or so of space between one another (use two pans, if you need to). If you have parchment paper, line the sheet pan with parchment and spray it lightly with oil before placing the bagels on the pan.
Cover the pan with plastic and allow the dough to rise for about 20 minutes.
Put covered pans in the refrigerator until morning.

In the morning:
Preheat the oven to 500.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
(optional) Add one tablespoon of baking soda to the water

When the pot is boiling, drop a few of the bagels into the pot one at a time and let them boil for a minute. Use a large, slotted spoon or spatula to gently flip them over and boil them on the other side.
Before removing bagels from the pot, sprinkle corn meal onto the sheet pan.
Remove bagels one at a time, set them back onto the sheet pan.
**If you are topping your bagels rather than mixing extras in, top them here, while the bagels are still moist**
When all the bagels have boiled, place the sheet pan into the preheated oven and bake for 5 minutes.
Reduce the heat to 450 degrees, rotate the pan, and bake for another 5 minutes until the bagels begin to brown.
Remove the pan from the oven and let cool

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Corn Tortillas: Better Than You Can Imagine

I know I just wrote about fried rice as the best go-to meal for left-over meat, but tacos provide an equally good (and quicker) option. I love tacos more than any food except pizza...and tacos are catching up now that I know how wonderful fresh tortillas are.

The dough should just stick together in a ball
What's not to love? There's a great mixture of flavors, temperatures (hot meat and beans, cold tomatoes and sour cream), and textures. Even the most basic of tacos – the taco truck fare that is a small corn tort with little more than some tender, shredded meat in it – has a strangely comforting feeling about it.

I always wondered why the corn tortillas from restaurants and taco trucks were so much better than those I bought at the store. The answer: freshness. The store-bought corn tortillas always seemed a bit dry and, well, stale. While cheap, they aren't really worth it, although they do fry up well in oil for a semi-crunchy shell.

I am in love with my tortilla press.  Sorry, Randy.
However, with the acquisition of our tortilla press and the relative ease of making flour tortillas, I decided to give corn torts a whirl. While even simpler than flour tortillas ingredient-wise (masa and water), corn tortillas are a little more challenging to me.

The first batch drove me to profanity. I followed the directions on the bag of masa, and the dough seemed to be the right texture. It pressed out into beautiful rounds...which then stuck to the parchment paper and wouldn't come loose in anything close to one piece.

Randy the Tortilla Master had to step in and save dinner and my sanity. He figured out two things that make corn tortillas a whole lot less frustrating.

First, the dough should actually look a little on the dry and crumbly side, but be just wet enough to form into a cohesive ball in your hand. If the tortillas are sticking, they are probably too wet. Add a little masa and things will be fine.
So much easier than trying to peel it off the paper!

The second trick is to leave the tortilla on the parchment paper until you have it on the griddle. Put the tortilla in the pan (tort side down, of course – you're not trying to toast the paper!) and then peel the paper off. It comes off a little easier, and even if there is a slight tear, the tort is already cooking and is easily repaired.

These cook at a lower temperature and take longer than flour tortillas. They cook for about two minutes on each side, which means a batch takes longer. Because of this, I highly suggest cooking them on a griddle so you can cook several at a time without using every burner on your stove.

Randy actually used the griddle and a pan so he could cook four at a time. I don't blame him. I was irritated both at my failure and at his easy success. Yes, I am petty enough to be upset when someone succeeds where I have not. Especially when I'm hungry. However, feeding me is always an easy way to cheer me up, and since he's a smart man, Randy got things cooked as quickly as possible.
The one on the right is flipped - these barely darken when cooked

The tortillas turned out brilliantly. It's almost like a completely different food than the supermarket tortillas. They are tender and soft and flavorful and just the right size for a small taco. Zoey has begun announcing out of the blue “OK, Mama, I want tortilla.” I think she phrases it as if I offered one to her so I'll feel obligated to follow through. Clever, clever girl.

2 cups (180 grams) masa
1 cup water

*Mix masa and water until you have a dough that is just moist enough to come together in a ball.
*Divide into 12 equal portions (roughly 1.5 ounces each) and press or roll into 6-inch rounds.
*Cook on a griddle set to 300F or in a pan over medium heat for two minutes each side.
*Place on a plate and cover with a damp cloth until all tortillas are cooked.

In July, I'm going to experiment with gluten-free recipes. I have no idea what I'm doing or where to start, so I'm pretty excited – I love making new things! There's just so much out there that I'm lacking direction, so I'm turning to you. What do you want me to try? (Results most definitely not guaranteed, but I'll give it my best shot and let you know where my mistakes happen).

Monday, June 18, 2012

Fried Rice - In 30 Minutes, You'll Want It Again!

Big bowl of yum

One of our favorite ways to stretch leftovers is with fried rice. When I first made this several years ago, Randy was skeptical. Fried rice should be left to restaurants, he thought. I soon converted him, to the point that he now suggests I make it even when we have no leftovers to use in it.

Leftover BBQ works perfectly. 
I like cooking this because it is so versatile and uses a little bit of whatever I have on hand, rather than sticking to a strict recipe. I've made it with leftover teriyaki, barbecue, even meat cooked in mushroom soup. I usually include eggs, but it's good without. Fresh veggies and frozen both work well (and again, you can choose to include pretty much whatever vegetable you want). I also like it because I get to eat fried rice when I'm done!

While I don't stress about having the exact right ingredients to make fried rice, I have found some seasonings make a big difference. The main one? Fish sauce. It surprised me when I first discovered it – I don't even remember why I decided to put it in. Probably because I had a bottle of it in the cupboard forever and thought something along the lines of “Fish sauce and fried rice are both Chinese* Therefore, they should be good together.” And they were, therefore proving the infallibility of my logic.

If you are missing some of the seasonings, you can always just mess around with what you have on hand. At one point or another, I have made this successfully while missing one or more of the seasonings, and I change it slightly each time I make it – the different result each time is one of the joys of making fried rice. This works because with fried rice, the technique is as important as the ingredients. As with most recipes, patience is the key when making fried rice. If you rush it, you end up with a dish that tastes like fried rice, but has the wrong texture. Patience plays into texture in two ways.

See how the grains are separate? Hard to do with fresh, hot rice.
First, fried rice is best when made with leftover rice. Whenever we have rice for dinner, I make a full 6-cup rice-cooker full, even though we never eat that much. That way, we can have fried rice the next day. Day-old rice works better than freshly cooked because it dries out a little, and the grains separate more easily.

If, like me, you sometimes forget to make rice ahead of time (or forget to put the rice in the fridge overnight and end up tossing it) you can still achieve this effect to a lesser extent by cooking your rice a couple of hours ahead of time, then separating it as much as possible and putting it in the fridge. If you have room, spread it out on a cookie sheet; if not, use the widest dish you can – you want to increase the surface area as much as you can. This might seem like a petty step, but it really does make a difference.

Look at all that goodness!
The other time that patience comes into play is during the cooking. You want to be sure to let the rice cook long enough so the flavors blend and so the rice gets the right fried texture. I'm not a patient person by nature, so I have to distract myself with cleaning or something similar to prevent myself from messing with the rice too much or getting bored and deciding it's done prematurely.

Other than that, the main effort involved is in prep – chopping up the meat into small pieces, scrambling eggs, cutting veggies (if using fresh), etc. Once all the chopping is done, it's mostly a matter of waiting for the rice to fry up to the right consistency.

In the recipe below, all measurements are of the “ish” nature – I more or less just dump things in on top of the rice in the wok and then adjust if it tastes off. I did measure the oil the last time I made it because that's a delicate balance – you want enough to coat the rice and let it fry, but not so much that the end product is greasy.
Taking pictures prevents me from eating it too soon!

We make this as our full dinner, but it can easily be made as part of a Chinese food feast with some egg rolls and sweet and sour pork (recipe forthcoming!). It holds up well as leftovers, and I often will have it for lunch the following day.

*Wikipedia informs me that fish sauce is actually used more in Vietnamese and Thai cooking. It is used in some parts of China, though, so I wasn't totally ignorant and wrong. Just mostly.

2 cups leftover meat
4 eggs
1-2 cups vegetables
4-8 cups cooked white rice
4 T vegetable oil
2 t sesame oil
2 T fish sauce
2 T rice vinegar
2 T soy sauce
2 T teriyaki sauce
1 t 5-spice
1 t ground mustard
½ t ground ginger

*Dice meat into small (¼ – ½”) cubes
*Scramble eggs and set aside
*Dice up vegetables into small (¼ – ½”) cubes
*Heat vegetable oil and sesame oil in wok or large frying pan over medium high heat until a piece of rice sizzles when it's dropped in
*Add rice to oil and stir well to coat with oil. Let fry, stirring occasionally for 4-5 minutes
*Add fish sauce, rice vinegar, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, 5-spice powder, mustard, and ginger. Mix well to evenly season the rice.
*Cook, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes.
*Add meat, vegetables, and eggs, and mix well.
*Cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat and vegetable are hot (5-10 minutes)

Linked to This Week's Cravings at The Daily Dish

Sunday, June 10, 2012


I think I'm starting to get the hang of this sourdough thing. Making a loaf or two every week has helped, as did all the tips I got from people who have much more experience than I do! One thing I figured out early on is that I have to be patient – giving it more time really makes a big difference in the end product.

I also figured out some techniques to increase the sour flavor. The one I settled on was to use a little bit of rye flour in the starter. Some people also use citric acid, but to me that seems like cheating. I'm not sure why one added ingredient is legitimate in my mind and the other is cheating, but there you go. There are plenty of other things I want to try to improve the basic recipe, but I have to be patient and get some more ingredients. Luckily, I'm on break until September, so I have lots of time to play with it! I've put my updated recipe at the bottom of the post.

See those bubbles?  That's an active starter!
Now that I have the basics down, I thought I'd look around and see what else I can use my starter for, despite Randy's plaint of “Why does everything have to be sourdough?” I love sourdough and will make ALL THE THINGS  out of it!

Luckily for me (not so much for Randy), it appears that you can use sourdough starter in pretty much everything you bake. Some things are just variations of other recipes that I like – whole-grain sourdough bread and sourdough English muffins. Many of the other recipes I found made a lot of sense – things that regularly call for sour cream or buttermilk like pancakes or coffee cake.

One, though, made me scratch my head. Sourdough sugar cookies. Um...what? That just doesn't compute. However, there are dozens of recipes out there, so they must be decent. Of course I had to try it!

I figured it it was win-win – either I they would turn out delicious and I'd have a tasty treat...or they'd be unappetizing and I'd avoid stuffing my face with cookies.

I fed my starter – but only once instead of twice, since the rise wasn't as important (and the recipe called for baking powder and baking soda, and eggs which act as leaveners as well). It got nice and poofy – I've fed it a lot in the past couple of weeks as we are re-building our bread stock, so it's nice and active.

Many people talked about adding different ingredients into the base recipe (due to trying to make them edible, Randy would say), so I thought I'd experiment with several variations in the same batch. Some, I left plain, some I topped snickerdoodle style with cinnamon and sugar, and some I put dried cranberries in.

The dough was very soft and I worried that they would spread a lot, but they kept a very nice shape. They came out very light – the lightest cookies I've ever made. I was, at first, unimpressed with the flavor of the plain cookie; it wasn't bad, it was just a bit blah. These are not very sweet cookies. However, it left a pleasant, lingering taste in my mouth.

The cookies with added flavor were better. The snickerdoodle flavored variety tasted, well, like snickerdoodles, but with a lighter texture. The real winner, though, was the cranberry cookie. They tasted very similar to scones. If I make these again, I will add cranberries to the entire batch.
Look at that poofy texture!

Overall, I am calling this experiment a success. The biggest evidence of success was that Randy – who
didn't even want to try them – couldn't stop eating them.

RECIPE (Total Cost: $1.24)
½ cup butter, softened ($0.63)
1 cup white sugar ($0.26)
1 egg ($0.12)
1 cup sourdough starter
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour ($0.14)
2 tsp baking powder ($0.01)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract ($0.08)
¼ tsp baking soda (< $0.01)

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

*In a large bowl, cream the butter with the sugar.
*Beat in the egg and sourdough starter.
*Stir in remaining ingredients and beat until smooth.
*Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets
*Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes

To keep the starter alive, feed it every couple of weeks or so - remove one cup of starter and replace with 3/4 c flour* & 1/2 c water, mixing in.  (If it has separated, just stir it back together).

To make the bread:
1 cup starter
5 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 c water
1T salt
optional: 2T wheat bran (helps rise and be less dense)

The day before baking: Feed the starter at least twice, leaving it out on the counter. You want to get it super active; this helps it rise farther and faster. I was skeptical, but it makes quite a big difference.

The night before you bake the bread, combine starter, water, and 2 1/2 cups of the flour.  Mix until smooth, then cover and let sit out until the morning. Feed the remaining starter as described above and put it back in the fridge.

In the morning, add in the salt and remaining flour to make a dough.**
Let rest 10 minutes
Knead 10 minutes

Let rise until doubled.  This takes about 3 hours at my house, but yours is usually a bit warmer, so may take less time for you.
Shape into loaves and let rise until doubled again.  This takes about six hours for me, but again, may take less for you.  I usually start checking after three hours or so
Bake @ 400 for 55-60 minutes

*You get a better sour flavor if you replace 2T of the flour with rye flour, but it's completely optional.  Also, these measurements are customizable - if it gets stiffer than you want, up the water; if you seem to be losing starter, put more flour/water in.

**I've noticed that SD dough tends to be a bit wetter than other dough.  This is especially notable when kneading (it holds form and kneads well, but has a tendency towards getting sticky) and after the first rise, it'll need a dusting of flour.  I usually dust it lightly with flour AND grease the bowl lightly when it's rising to keep the sticking issues down.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

English Muffins - Buttered Bliss

Why?  Because breakfast doesn't get any better than this.
The lower element for our oven finally came in this week. To celebrate...I decided to make English muffins. Which don't need the oven to cook. I didn't think of it last week, when I wanted a sandwich but had no bread – I was too focused on tortillas – especially after the wonderful and generous Page G gave us a tortilla press! Now, when I can make actual bread, I decide that English muffins would be better.

I'm logical like that.

There are two basic variations of English muffin recipes. One calls for making a batter, pouring it into rings, then cooking on a griddle or skillet. The other has a stiffer dough that gets rolled out, and the muffins are cut out like biscuits. The second method also usually calls for cooking on a griddle or skillet, although the odd recipe or two says to bake them.

Batter, pre-proofing.  I had to resist adding more flour.
I decided to go with the batter method, mostly because I made them once a couple of years ago and they turned out well. I'm not sure why I haven't made them again since then, but I can guarantee it won't be another two years before the next time. It probably won't be two days, honestly.

I used Alton Brown's recipe with the slight adjustment of using lard instead of shortening. Why lard? After last week's experiments in tortilla making, the feedback was overwhelmingly in favor of lard over shortening so we bought lard instead of shortening on our monthly shopping trip.

Turns out lard makes excellent tortillas – much lighter than oil. It worked out pretty well in the English muffins as well.

"Custom" muffin rings.  AKA wide-mouth canning rings
Like tortillas, English muffins are so easy to make that I don't know why I haven't been making them forever. The total time invested was less than an hour, half of which was waiting for the dough to proof. Once the dough was proofed, I was able to make the rest of breakfast while the muffins cooked.

Hot, fresh, English muffins for breakfast? Yes, please.

I had a little difficulty with covering the muffins as they cooked – mostly not thinking about the broiler pan I used touching the dough and messing it up. This is easily solved, however, by putting the rings closer together and/or putting something slightly taller on the griddle for the pan to rest on.

I went an extra step and toasted the muffins before eating them. I can't imagine eating an un-toasted English muffin – the extra level of crispiness is essential to the experience.

Halfway there
The other change I made was largely an excuse to play with my new digital scale; I decided to weigh the flour instead of measuring it by volume. Supposedly, it's the only way to go, since it will always be accurate, whereas volume measurements can vary based on sifted v. non-sifted, accuracy of leveling, etc. Some people insist measuring by weight is vital to properly executing any recipe.

I'm not entirely convinced – after all, I've successfully made oodles of things without weighing my ingredients – but I will admit I like the idea of accuracy. Also, I want to start putting actual cost comparisons up with the recipes that are more than just a guesstimate. Since most of the ingredients give a weight-based price, it makes sense to weigh out how much I use.

Of course, I didn't weigh all the ingredients for this, the first attempt. In my defense, I made these first thing in the morning and wasn't fully caffeinated yet. Also, some ingredients I don't have price variants for. I will get better, I promise. I'm making a spreadsheet and everything. Organization. I can learn.

Based on the prices I do know (everything except sugar and salt), I can safely say this recipe costs less than one dollar to make. It probably comes in under fifty cents (I can't imagine the cost of the sugar and salt combined are much more than 10 cents, considering how little the other ingredients cost).

I may have had trouble waiting...
Considering the output – eight English muffins – the per-unit cost is somewhere less than $0.13. Costco's best price is $4.33 for 12 muffins, or $0.36 each. While 36 cents doesn't seem like an outrageous price, who doesn't like getting something for 1/3 of the price? There's also – as always – the bonus of ingredient control.

  These turned out wonderfully, with all the nooks and crannies you could hope for, just waiting for butter to melt into them and jam to seal them off.  I may or may not have eaten more than one before I let Randy know breakfast was ready. This probably off-set the health benefit of making my own.  I'll just have to make them more often so the novelty wears off and I can resist temptation better.

  • 1 cup warm milk ($0.19)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt (divided)
  • 1 tablespoon lard ($0.05 max – guessed on weight)
  • 1 envelope (7 grams) dry yeast ($0.04)
  • 1/8 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour, sifted ($0.16)
  • Non-stick vegetable spray
  • Special equipment: electric griddle, 3-inch metal rings (or wide-mouth canning rings)
Total known cost: $0.44. Total estimated cost: $0.60.
In a bowl combine the milk, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and lard. Stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. In a separate bowl combine the yeast and 1/8 teaspoon of sugar in 1/3 cup of warm water and rest until yeast starts to bubble. Add this to the milk mixture. Add the flour and beat thoroughly with wooden spoon. Cover the bowl and let it rest in a warm spot for 30 minutes.
Preheat the griddle to 300 degrees F. This equates to medium or medium-low on your stove top – 4 or 5 on the dial.
Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt to mixture and beat thoroughly. Place metal rings onto the griddle and coat lightly with vegetable spray. Equally divide the batter into eight rings. Cook for 6 minutes. Remove the lid and flip rings using tongs. Cover with the lid and cook for another 6 minutes or until golden brown. Place on a cooling rack, remove rings and cool. Split with fork and serve.
Linked to This Week's Cravings via the Daily Dish

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