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.


Stephanie said...

Interesting. What kind of flour are you using?

5intow said...


Right now I use mostly King Arthur's White Whole Wheat, but my favorite is freshly ground whole wheat flour with a blend of hard red and hard white wheat berries. Nothing beats the taste (and nutrition) of freshly ground flour!

Thanks for asking,

Michele said...

Yay- a soaked flour bread recipe! I would love to give it a try! Will it work with all red wheat flour?

Michele :)

5intow said...


It should work with red wheat also without much variation (possible more or less water depending on how the dough seems, I have to vary this an ounce one way or another in different seasons anyway and fresher flour tends to need less water as well). Bread with red wheat would most likely be a bit darker and might need a little more honey/sweetener. Here is a site I found with a quick search that talks a bit about the comparison between red and white wheat. It is somewhat promoting of white wheat, but does a good job of showing the differences.

I have made this recipe with red wheat in the past, just not recently.


Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home said...

Looks like a great bread recipe! I have Sue Gregg's book and make her soaked yeast bread, which we really enjoy. Yours looks just a little different, though, so I will give it a go, as it's tough to find good soaked recipes!

Speaking of bread prices, for me to buy good quality bread (sprouted whole grain and organic) costs around $4 a loaf in Canada! And since we prefer not to eat wheat (sensitivities to it), it's more like $5 or $6 for a wheat free loaf. Even with the price of my spelt berries doubling last time I bought them, it's still far cheaper to make my own!

Thanks so much for joining in the carnival!

Kimi Harris said...

Great post! I think that soaked bread recipes are so much easier on the stomach. :-)

Michele said...

Thanks so much, Erin! :)


Ranee said...

Thank you for the how-to. That chart that trouble shoots bread failures is also very helpful.

Ranee @ Arabian knits

Sarah said...

Looks like a great recipe! I've been experimenting with sourdough, building sponges the night before to "soak" the flour - but will definitely have to try this one out as well! Also so interesting how you replaced the butter fat with flax . . . great idea!

We're pretty much all whole grain, sprouted grain, whole wheat at my house, from bread to buns, but I've had a hard time giving up my flour tortillas . . . I think they're my last white flour vice! We've bought whole wheat and even sprouted grain tortillas but they just don't quite replace the originals. I might try the White Whole Wheat flour you mention, though, and make them homemade; with soaking they might be as tender as those white ones!

Thanks for the inspiration!


Kate said...

This post is fantastic! All of the tips are really going to come in handy in my kitchen. I have yet to have a soaked recipe that turned out right for me. I feel like I need to give it a shot though now that I have all this incentive. Thank you so much! I can't wait to bake some bread this week.


Linds said...

Looks great! I'm anxious to give it a try. I attempted my first soaked grain bread last week and I'm anxious to start trying different recipes!

Lisa said...

I have never tried a soaked flour bread before. Thanks for the recipe and the info.