Frugal Friday: Making My Own Bread

February 19, 2010 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Home Made Whole Wheat Bread

This year I took on a new personal challenge: baking the majority of the bread my family eats in a given week. It’s been an interesting learning experience thus far and I’m glad that I decided to do it. I decided to embark on this adventure for a variety of reasons. When I make my own bread I can:

  • Save money The total price tag for the ingredients that go into a loaf of bread is lower than the actual price of a loaf of bread, particularly when it comes to buying interesting breads like artisan loaves and brioche rolls. To reduce my costs even further, I keep an eye out for flours and other bread ingredients and buy them in bulk when they go on sale. I have a collection of inexpensive storage bins that I bought at an office supply store that keep the ingredients fresh for many months and a bay leaf or two in my flour keeps the bugs away.
  • Reduce waste. We don’t always need 20 dinner rolls or even 8 hamburger or hot dog buns, but when I buy pre-made bread we’re stuck with what’s in the package. I try to be smart about using leftover bread for bread crumbs, croutons, French toast, and other applications, but sometimes I really just want 4 buns. When I make the bread, I can easily control the quantity I make.
  • Know what’s in my family’s food. I carefully read the label of every pre-made and packaged food that I buy, and you’d be amazed at how many bread products include corn syrup, dyes, and preservatives in their ingredient lists. The best way I know to be sure my family eats whole and natural foods is to combine whole and natural ingredients myself. When I make the bread, I know exactly what’s in it.

However, adding bread baking to a busy family schedule isn’t necessarily an easy thing to do. After all, it takes time to make, knead, form, and rest bread, and the dough typically doesn’t last for long. It was the time commitment that really kept me from taking up bread baking. Last year I started to hear about a book called Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes at Day. I paid attention to what bloggers were saying about the book and added the authors’ site to my feed reader because, honestly, I felt like great bread in 5 minutes a day seemed too good to be true. It seemed that many folks were enjoying this method and found success with it. I still didn’t run out and buy the book because my family has been focused for a while on eating more whole grains and moving away from white flour, and many of the recipes were for white bread. I was excited when I found out that the authors were publishing a second book, Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, and I pre-ordered a copy. I’m happy to report that I’ve made several batches of dough, and while I need to practice my dough shaping skills, I’ve been very pleased with the results.

The general premise of the authors’ approach to bread baking is that you make a no-knead dough that will hold for 5-10 days in the refrigerator. On the days you want to make bread, you spend 5 minutes shaping it, let it rest, and then bake it off. All of the dough I’ve made thus far really did take less than 5 minutes to put together, largely due to not having to knead them, and I’ve been able to shape basic loaves together in 5-7 minutes. With more practice I expect to be even quicker. Stuffed breads and cinnamon rolls have taken longer, but not much. I’ve experimented with whole wheat flour and white whole wheat flour, and found that my family really likes the results. The favorite breads thus far have been the homemade hamburger buns, the cinnamon rolls, and the cranberry challa. Here are a few pictures of the bread I’ve been particularly happy with.

Homemade whole wheat bunsHomemade sandwich breadHomemade cranberry challa

If you’re curious about this method, try a couple of these recipes from authors’ site before you decide if the book is worth the investment:

You can also watch videos on the site to see how the method works. And, if you decide to give this approach a whirl, you can ask the author’s a question on their blog and they’ll get back to you quickly – they really want to make us all successful bread bakers!

Do you make your own bread? If so, I’d love to know what method you use (traditional or a new method like this one) and how you think it helps you save money.


Entry filed under: Food Costs and Budgeting, Frugal Friday, Healthy Eating.

Mardi Gras Inspirations: Mock Turtle Soup & Red Beans and Rice Menu Plan Monday ~ Week of February 22 (When Mom Travels)

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