Thursday, July 17, 2008
Bread making - frugal and nourishing
Each year I work to establish another healthy eating habit into our routine. This coming school year my goal will focus around eliminating white breads (hamburger buns and tortillas included) from our diet. For starters, I worked with regular loaves of bread until I had the recipe and routine down. In order to receive the maximum nutrition I soak the flour for at least 12 hours before proceeding with making the dough. Sue Gregg talks a bit about this. The Weston A Price website also has a lengthy explanation of the benefits of this process.
Here is my routine for making bread. The day before I plan to bake I mix together the following in a glass bowl for each 2 pound loaf I plan to make:
- 4 cups flour
- 11 ounces water and 2 Tbsp whey or yogurt
The whey separates from the yogurt in the container and makes a great addition to the recipe without giving it the sour taste of replacing all of the liquid with yogurt.
The dough is rather thick at this point:
I then cover it with a glass lid and leave it on the counter until the next morning:I have incorporated flax, instead of oil or butter, into my recipe to also increase the nutritional value. To learn more about flax, check out this website. In the morning I add the rest of the ingredients including the following:
- 4 Tbsp ground flax
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 2 1/4 tsp yeast
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
I allow this to mix in my Kitchen Aid mixer with a dough hook attachment for 6-8 minutes, or until I see the bubbles throughout the dough. At this time I transfer it back into a glass bowl to rise for about an hour, depending on the temperature of my kitchen, until it is about doubled in size.
After that hour, I punch it down, shape it into a loaf and put it into the lightly greased stoneware loaf pan where it rises for another hour
Then, bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes and we have a wonderful, fresh, healthy, frugal loaf of bread. I have figured my cost to be around 70 cents a loaf even with current wheat prices.
The result is a delicious bread that is somewhat dense, but not crumbly or too heavy. It is suitable for toast, sandwiches, or just eating plain.
I use this same dough in different forms including cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, hamburger buns, garlic bread, etc. I've also made a cinnamon swirl loaf which is amazing toasted or as French toast. When I first started bread baking I enjoyed finding inspiration as well as some troubleshooting on the following sites:
King Arthur's Flour (this page you now need to register to access, but I found lots of helpful information when I was getting started.)
Natural Ovens (less information here, but inspiration in how the company came to where they are today in producing nourishing foods.)
And, from Bob's Red Mill site I found this great baking resource. That one is probably my favorite.
And, one more site I came across today that has some helpful tips.
I learned a lot by trial and error. I tried adding eggs, but we didn't like how heavy it turned out. I added a teaspoon of vinegar which should lengthen the life of the bread, but it altered the flavor. I also played around with soaking times. My kids don't like the bread too sour, so I keep it much closer to the 12 hours as opposed to the 24 hours. It's all about getting the bread just right for you and your family.
My greatest motivation down this path was actually only partly nutrition. I also had grown quite tired of paying over three dollars a loaf for quality bread in the grocery store. Now, I offer my kids the freshest bread and I know exactly what went into making it. Once I had worked it into my routine it didn't really take much extra time, but it saves me about five dollars each week just for the bread. Now I just need to get more consistent at making all the other breads we use and we will save close to $10 each week ($520 a year)! . . . That's a lot of dough (sorry, couldn't resist, comes from an upbringing in corny humor).
For more frugal tips, check out Crystal's blog.
And for more frugal, nourishing recipes, specifically side dishes, check out Keeper of the Home.