As I mentioned recently, my wife and I are working for “essential” industries. We are still putting in regular hours at our respective companies. Working in an environment that involves close human contact at a time like this can be nerve racking. Sure, when we are at work, we focus on the jobs that need to be done. But, when we come home we think of the risks we take each day we go to work.
We are not exceptional. Many people are experiencing similar types of anxiety. We all deal with it in our own ways.
A few days ago, after a mere 4 hours of sleep, my wife awoke at the crack of dawn and went straight to the kitchen. She spent the next 10 hours baking. When my wife bakes, or cooks for that matter, the result is always impressive. This particular baking marathon was fueled by her love of our family and her need to occupy herself with something meaningful. It surely wasn’t fueled by a good night’s sleep!
It was therapy. It was determination. It was well-honed skill mixed with passion and promise.
First things first, this isn’t a copy-cat version of the
Little Caesar’s classic.
But, since I brought up Little Caesar’s Crazy Bread I feel
the urge to share my thoughts on that ingenious invention. Long, long ago, in a past career, I was once
versed in food cost and clever marketing.
I remember when Little Caesar’s came out with Crazy Bread. My first thought was, “Well… some marketing
guru just earned a big bonus!”
The idea behind Little Caesar’s Crazy Bread is so simple
that it needs no explanation, but really, it does. Successful restaurants make money when they
focus on selling mass produced low food cost items. Conversely, they run the risk of going
belly-up if they dabble too much in high food cost items…especially high food
cost items that have a short storage life.
Dough is cheap. Little
Caesar’s knows that. That’s why they can
sell a large pizza for $5. Throw on a little sauce, some cheap cheese and one
topping and sell the pizza for five bucks.
They don’t make a ton of money off of the pizza but they sell a lot of
them. Overall food cost for the pizza is
probably between 1 and 2 dollars.
About 20 years after Little Caesar’s came into being, they figured out how to increase their profit margin with a gimmick. Crazy Bread is nothing more than bread dough with a dusting of dried parmesan cheese. They’re very cheap to make. They sell 8 bread sticks for just few dollars. The ingenious part of their scheme is the sauce. What’s a bread stick without marinara sauce? Oh, sure you can eat a bread stick without sauce but wouldn’t it be much nicer to dip the soft bread stick in warm marinara sauce? Mmmmm. Is a 4 ounce cup of marina sauce worth 60 cents? You bet! And that’s where they make the money. Here we are, nearly 40 years after Crazy Bread was introduced and it’s still going strong.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against Little Caesar’s
or their Crazy Bread and I’m all for capitalism. I just find this sort of stuff fascinating!
OK, enough of that…let’s dig into some of my crazy bread.
As I have mentioned previously, I have been working long hours and I don’t have much time to make elaborate meals, or much time to document them for my blog! I came home rather late one night, recently and knew I had to come up with something quick to prepare. My first thought was to check the refrigerator for things that might spoil, if not used soon. Raw meat always tops the list of things to check. I saw a pound of sweet Italian sausage and knew that it had been in the refrigerator for about three days. A pasta dish came to mind but I really didn’t want to make a big production. And then my mind went to bread. I didn’t stop to think. I started to make a quick, simple bread dough. While the dough rose I browned the sausage in a pan and shredded some extra sharp cheddar cheese.
Total time to prepare from start to finish: 1.25 hours. It was worth the wait!
3 cups flour
1 packet instant, fast rising yeast
1 1/4 cup warm water
1 Tbs garlic powder
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp sugar
1 Tbs honey
1 lb sweet Italian bulk sausage
1 cup grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
Mix 2 cups flour, yeast and garlic powder with a whisk. Set aside.
Add the honey and sugar to a large mixing bowl.
Heat the water in a microwave or stove top to about
100°. Add the water to the mixing bowl
and whisk to blend with the sugar and honey.
Slowly add flour mixture and stir with a spatula.
Add the crushed red pepper and garlic powder. Mix to combine thoroughly. Slowly add the rest of the flour and mix by spatula and then by hand.
Turn the dough out to a lightly floured surface. Knead for a few minutes until the dough
becomes a firm and forms a ball.
Return the dough to the mixing bowl, cover with foil and
keep in a warm place. Let the dough rise
for at least 45 minutes.
While the dough rises, brown the sausage and shred the cheese.
Once dough has doubled in size, add the cooked sausage and
Mix the dough thoroughly and let it rise in a warm place for
5 or 10 minutes.
On a lightly greased baking sheet, form the dough into the
shape of your preference. Since this is
crazy bread I decided a question mark shape would be appropriate.
Bake at 400° for about 30 minutes. Remove and allow the bread to cool for a few
minutes before serving.
Serve with a fresh salad.
This is the first time I have made bread this way and I was
pleasantly surprised. I imagine using
breakfast sausage next time and serving with scrambled eggs and fresh fruit.