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Frugal Living, let them eat cake

Updated on September 18, 2015

Let Them Eat Cake

Despite there being little evidence, Marie Antoinette is still believed to have said ¨Let them eat cake¨. We will never know who said it, but we can learn a lot from the phrase. Firstly, it was in French, and actually ¨Qu´ils mangent de la brioche¨. Most of us are now more familiar with different breads and would classify brioche as a bread not a cake. Perhaps the phrase really means ¨so long as they have flour then can make bread and will not starve¨.

I want to do more than just ´not starve´, but it is as good a place as any to start.

If money is tight then the last thing you will be doing is going out and buying expensive cakes and specialist breads. However, bear in mind that if the French peasants in the 1700s could eat good quality bread - then we certainly can, and should be!

I believe that bread is the most important thing for anyone to learn to cook. It is a great way to get a full tummy feeling, and most importantly it is very easy to create wonderfully luxurious, mouth wateringly delicious loaves with just the things in your pantry!


5 Minute Bread

I actually had to interrupt the above capsule so that I could get my bread out of the oven. Since I had already decided on this Hub I also took a picture of it, see below.

I have just calculated how much the bread cost me - €0.40 which at todays exchange rate is $0.45, that is pretty hard to beat!!!!

The bread I just got out of the oven was my 5 min bread. I call it this, because sometimes you are about to do something and suddenly realise that you need to have some bread for later. Usually it is not a problem to delay by 5 mins and this is how long it takes to make this dough.

This is the recipe and it is full proof.

  • 350 ml water
  • 500 g flour (pretty much any flour will work)
  • 8 g salt
  • 1 tsp of yeast

Mix it all together leave it in the bowl with a tea towel over it and get back to what ever it was you were doing.

One of the things I love about this recipe is that timings are not important. The next thing you have to do is transfer the dough into a lightly oiled casserole pot (one with a lid). Then leave it in there until you are ready to cook it.

I cook it for 32 mins at 220 C. (I put a little cross on the top to let the steam out and keep the shape looking professional ;) )

There are times when I have made this dough while the kids are eating breakfast at 8am and not put it in the oven until after they are asleep that night! The reason you put it in a casserole pot is that it will always come out the perfect shape, no worries about over prooving it and the shape collapsing, or many of the other baking problems.

This is the perfect everyday bread.

The Bread I Made Today

This is the bread I made today.
This is the bread I made today.

Beefing it up!

So you can bake a perfect loaf, this is a great start, but can quickly get a bit boring.

The first place to start are toppings. Simple and easy. Sprinkly seeds or even better grated cheese on top and watch you kids gobble it down.


Next you need to add to the inside. I have added various elements all with great success. If we are doing a BBQ I put cut up sun dried tomatoes in the dough. I also flatten the dough and cook it for 25 mins in a roasting dish. This gives a flatter bread which is easy to cut into large square and then slice sideways for a burger.

If you are going to a friends house and want to take some thing impressive, one of these loaves with cut up olives in are a guaranteed hit.

You can basically put just about anything in these, but look to the Mediterranean diet for ideas which will really impress.

1kg of Flour

I was running low on flour, but did not see this as any reason to compromise. The right is simple butter biscuits, the left is 5 min bread cooked in a large cake tin with sun dried tomatoes mixed into the dough, the centre loaf is a small brioche
I was running low on flour, but did not see this as any reason to compromise. The right is simple butter biscuits, the left is 5 min bread cooked in a large cake tin with sun dried tomatoes mixed into the dough, the centre loaf is a small brioche

Ingredients for Brioche

  • 500 g flour
  • 250 ml milk
  • 20 g yeast
  • 50 g sugar
  • 60 g butter
  • 10 g salt
  • 1 egg

Instructions for the perfect Brioche loaf

  1. Warm the milk and disolve the yeast into it
  2. Place the flour, sugar and salt in your food processor and mix until a dough is formed
  3. Add the milk / yeast mixture
  4. Add the egg (not beaten)
  5. Add the butter and mix until it is incorporated into the dough and the dough pulls away from the bowl (about 10 mins)
  6. Place in a bowl, cover with film and leave in the fridge for 3 hours (or longer)
  7. Shape the dough and leave to rest for 30 mins
  8. Glaze with milk and sprinkle with a little sugar
  9. Cook for half an hour at 180 C

Let Them Eat Cake

5 stars from 1 rating of Brioche

How Much Flour Do You Need?

I believe that in a crisis we all want to eat well. Not having good food on the table makes coping a lot harder.

I have only really touched on breads in this hub, but there are many other uses of flour which will help to keep depression away.

Here is a list of other ideas to try, all based around making a dough:

  • Pasta - yes, dried pasta may be cheap in the shops, but homemade egg pasta is not only nicer, but also more nutritious. It is easy to make, simply 100g of flour to each egg and one egg per person (plus a pinch of salt). Sometimes, depending on the size of your eggs you may need a little water. There are lots of videos around which show how to make this.
  • Pastry. Pastry does take a little bit of practice, but it is a great way to stretch out food. For example if you have only a small amount of fruit left in the house then making some pastry shells to put them in will make the fruit more special and also more filling. Pastry is just flour and butter with a bit of care and attention thrown in. Definitely a skill worth investigating.
  • Pizza. We have pizza once a week and the kids make it. It is a wonderful way to spend time together and they get to be a part of putting food on the table which I believe is an important part of growing up.

If you are going to bake bread and play around with the above ideas then you will need a well stocked pantry.

I never buy less than 4kg of flour at a time. In my perfect world I would always have 12kg of flour in the house at any one time. This does not often happen, usually I have a rolling stock of around six to eight kilos.

One of the deciding factors to your flour storage will be space and if you have to carry it back from the shops.

My main piece of advice on storing flour is always have more than you think you need. Our rainy day activites often involve cooking snacks such as tortilla chips or bread sticks!

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    • drpennypincher profile image

      Dr Penny Pincher 2 years ago from Iowa, USA

      It is encouraging that you can get basic ingredients such as flour and sugar for very little money. You need to know what to do with basic ingredients to make something great- plus it takes some work. Now I want some fresh bread!