Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Our Daily Bread Recipe

Yesterday, I made some bread. I bake bread about once a week - that equals two loaves of bread per week for our family of 5. I'm sure you've all been annoyed at the price of bread in the stores. I was! So much so that I've taken to making our own. Not a foreign idea to me since homemade bread was all I grew up with but still it was a change from what we had been doing - buying 2 loaves of bread for about 5 dollars at most stores- which is a very good price for the brand of bread we bought! A friend stopped by while I was kneading away and I told her I figured it cost me about 80 cents to bake the two loaves. Today, stricken with the possibility of having misrepresented the cost, I decided to figure out how much it indeed did cost in the way of materials (I did not figure in the cost of running the oven at 350 for 30 minutes) to be sure I was honest.

My Bread Recipe (adapted from many recipes)

1/4 cup Warm Water (~115 degrees F) - Free
1/2 teaspoon Sugar - I'm calling this one a gimme - Free
1 Tbl instant yeast - 6 cents (I buy yeast in 2 lb packages at Sam's - very cheap)
1 cup whole wheat flour - 16 cents
1/2 oatmeal - 5 cents
1/2 wheat germ - 4 cents (I buy it in the bulk bins - WAY cheaper)
2 cups warm water - Free
1/3 cup brown sugar - 9 cents
1/3 cup canola oil - 15 cents
3-4 cups all purpose flour - 30-40 cents (cheaper if I can get it less than 1.88 a 5 lb package)

Proof the yeast by mixing together the water, sugar and yeast in a bowl of a stand mixer. Allow to sit for 5 mintues. Dump in the whole wheat flour, wheat germ, oatmeal, 2 cups warm water, brown sugar, and oil and stir together using a dough hook on your mixer. Add all purpose flour 1 cup at a time until a loose ball forms. On a well floured surface, dump out the dough. Knead, adding extra flour, until just slightly sticky. Usually about 5 mintues. Divide dough in two pieces and shape into loaf looking pieces. Place in small loaf pans that have been prepared by spraying or brushing the sides with olive oil. Cover with a damp towel and allow to raise in a warm spot for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. The upper dough should be higher than the rim of the pan. Bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Now, if you use regular active dry yeast, then you have to add another step and let rise in an oiled bowl for an hour, then push down and divide and place into bread pans and allow to raise again. The instant yeast allows you to skip this step so I highly recommend it!

So the grand total? 87-97 cents for two loaves. So my rough estimate wasn't too far off. That's a saving of over 4 dollars every week. Take that times 52 weeks and you get 208 dollars a year. Now, one can always buy cheaper bread. But I would argue that my bread is probably healthier due mainly to the fact there is no high fructose corn syrup in it. Now, lately I've been adding a tablespoon of vital wheat gluten which has slightly improved the texture of the bread but it is not necessary. In case you are wondering though, I buy it at Walmart for 1.79 a box and I figure I get about 17 tablespoons out of it. It does add another 11 cents to the bill but again, still a huge savings in the long run.

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