Thursday, February 19, 2009

What You Knead

Nothing beats the enticing aroma of bread right out of the oven with the exception of a thick hot slice smeared with butter and drizzled with honey. Oh yeah! That is good stuff. Maybe you haven't made homemade bread in a while or maybe never. Here are a few reasons why you should do it this week.

1. Homemade bread is cheap. In case you don't believe me here is the breakdown: It costs me $.60 for 8 cups of bread flour purchased in a 50 lb bag from Costco. I go through a bag every 4-6 weeks. $.012 for 1 T. Salt. Salt goes on sale all the time at Alby's for just 50 cents a container. $.04 for 1/4 c. sugar purchased in a 5 lb bag at Alby's with a coupon of course. But you can get it this cheap on a regular basis if you are carefully watching sales. 1 T. Yeast for $.035 purchased in bulk at Costco or Cash and Carry. After you open your yeast be sure to refrigerate or freeze it to prolong it's life. 2 2/3 cups water for $.017. This is water straight from the tap provided by Lakewood Water District. Our rate breaks down to 10 cents a gallon. 1/3 c oil is $.08. Again watch for sales and coupons and you can get oil at this price regularly. Be sure to stock up when you see it low!

Grand Total for 2 loaves of fresh baked bread = $0.784. That is less than 40 cents per loaf! You can't buy bread that cheap anywhere. Even if you could it wouldn't be nearly as good as your own hearty loaves.

2. Homemade bread is easy and fun to make, that is if you've got the right equipment. A KitchenAid or a bread machine makes bread making a cinch. Simply pour ingredients in and watch them go. There's no wooden spoon stirring, or hand kneading unless you want to do it. My kids like watching the bread rise and are always amazed, big ooh's and aah's, when those domed, golden brown loaves come out of the oven. Not to mention the impressed looks from friends, neighbors, and mother-in-laws! Yes, you must let the dough rise for about an hour before you shape it into a loaf. And yes, you must let it rise for another hour before you bake it. But hey, do some laundry while it's rising, you're saving money and making good food for your family!

Oh, and if you don't have a KitchenAid or a bread machine but do have $20 bucks try the Goodwill. The Goodwill often has several older model bread machines sitting around waiting for someone like you to snatch it up. You can also find them at garage sales cheap. Remember, all you need it for is to mix and knead your dough so if the heating element is broken or the timer is off that's ok, mix your dough and bake it in your loaf pan and oven. In the meantime you can save all that money you used to spend on bread and buy yourself a KitchenAid for Christmas (yes, you'll save that much money by next Christmas, easy!)

3. Homemade bread is good for you. You don't add preservatives, you don't add lard or flavor enhancers or corn syrup or any other stuff that doesn't belong. You can add whole wheat and honey and wheat germ and any other assortment of good, wholesome additions to improve the quality and healthfulness of your loaves. Your bread can and will be as good as any bakery bread!

4. Any homemaker worth her salt has got to know how to bake bread. Once you know how to make your own bread a whole new world is opened up to you. A world full of fresh and healthy food. Full of inexpensive meals and snacks. A world of self-reliance and pride in homemaking is based on a good loaf of bread. If you know how to make a loaf of bread, with a few simple tweaks you've suddenly got breadsticks, dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls, cinnamon bread, sourdough bread, holiday breads, baguettes, french bread, rye bread, potato bread, whole wheat bread, honey oat bread, mini loaves and so much more. Like I said, a whole new world is unlocked when you learn to make a loaf of bread.


So what are you waiting for? I know you want to try it. I know you're worth your salt. You want to eat healthy and have fun doing it. You know you like to save a few bucks! Go on and try it. At that price it's ok if you screw it up once or twice. You'll be baking like a pro in no time!

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