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Oct 8 / Michael

Homemade bread in five minutes a day

Homemade bread loavesWe picked up the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day book last year.  It’s really changed our world.  We used to be like pretty much everyone else, I suppose, buying bread every week or so–and always running out.  Now that we live out in the boonies (it takes at least 30 minutes to get out and back to someplace), we’re always looking for ways to “insource”.

I’ve been making “crusty” bread from recipes in the book pretty much since day one–we haven’t bought “fancy” bread from the store since then.  However, the children have always preferred soft sandwich breads and we occasionally need sandwich or hotdog rolls for our various meat yummies (our personal favorite is Martin’s).

Homemade rollsThe “5 Minutes a Day” book has a variety of recipes.  I decided to try the “American-Style Sandwich White Bread” recipe.  It’s billed as a “much nicer” version of the basic white breads you’ll find in the mega marts (“plastic-wrapped products, often chemically preserved”).  It’s basically the same recipe as the “master recipe” (a crusty boule), with the addition of butter and sugar to keep things soft and tender.  It’s also baked at a lower temperature for a longer period of time.

A home-grown mealI’ve taken to making a double batch at a time, which is good for 6 1½ pound loaves.  I also pinch off rolls in 4 ounce portions to bake up as dinner or sandwich rolls.  Once the dough is prepared I can have a fresh loaf start-to-finish in 2½ hours and fresh rolls in 1 hour.

From a costing perspective, it takes me 65 to 70 ounces of flour to make a double-batch (somewhere between 4 and 4½ pounds of flour).  For the sandwich bread, each double batch requires ½ pound of butter.  The rest of the ingredients (salt, yeast, sugar and water) have negligible cost.  Worst case scenario, I can buy a 5 pound bag of flour for ~$3.00 (usually cheaper) and a 1 pound box of butter for ~$4.00, which puts my material costs at under $5 dollars for 6 loaves of bread.  This amount usually lasts us about 2 weeks, so I’m spending $10 a month on bread ($120/year).  If I buy flour and butter in bulk or on sale, it can halve that cost.

Now that we’ve found this recipe, we may not need to buy any breads from the stores.  Enjoy the pictures of some finished product and a bonus showing our homegrown lamb burger.

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