Do you have a breadmaker sitting in the back of your cupboard gathering dust? If so, my challenge for you this winter is to get it out and use it. You will save money, and more than that, you will save your family’s sanity.
This is a post about white bread. Fluffy, cloud-like white bread. The sort of bread that my super fussy kids will actually eat. Well, they still prefer sliced store-bought bread but this is one of the few loaves of homemade bread they will chow down on.
White bread can be controversial. We all know that eating highly processed food is not so good, right? We all ‘should’ be eating wholegrain foods, that is if you are not on a paleo diet or need to eat gluten free.
In my household, I love to eat a dense grainy bread but I have to give my kids white bread. That’s right, I HAVE to. Not because I am too indulgent, either. Big A has mild cerebral palsy, and as part of that he has trouble chewing. I took him to a speech pathologist who told me that it is best that I feed him soft foods so he doesn’t choke himself. The list of foods to avoid includes wholegrain. So I proudly give him white bread. Usually with healthy (ish) toppings. Bad mother syndrome. They are eating, and they are alive.
“But why bother making your own bread,” you might think when store bought bread is soooo cheap. A friend told me only the other day that she got a marked down loaf on special for 50c. I would buy that. And use it. Yet I still make my own bread.
The main reason I like to bake my own bread is that I know what is in it. No preservatives. A relatively small amount of sugar. Identifiable fats. You can also tweak the recipe to start adding in healthier options: a bit of wheatgerm here, a few vegies, maybe even you could try wholegrain eventually.
The other advantage is that it is ooh so nice to wake up to the smell of baking bread on a cold winter’s morning. Just heaven. My kids love it, too.
And you CAN save money making your own bread: if you had a large family and made a lot of sandwiches, the little bits would add up. A friend at church told me that he bought a breadmaker when his kids were at school because the per weekly savings were exponentially more than the cost of the breadmaker (and that was before you could pick up a cheap breadmaker on gumtree or at a church fete). An average store-bought loaf costs anywhere between $1.90 and $3.00 (or more for gourmet). My homemade, including electricity, costs $1.05. It also reduces packaging and is environmentally friendly.
But the final reason to make your own bread is the convenience factor. On cold, rainy, wintry, dark nights like we have had this week there is nothing worse than discovering mid-week that you have forgotten to buy bread. Well, there is something worse and that is dressing up two hungry and cantankerous kids into their warm jackets, coercing them into the car, fighting for a car spot, trouping out in the rain, giving into toddler tantrums to buy junk food, buying several non essential items you cannot resist, balancing them in your hands while trying to herd your kids; waiting (im)patiently in the queue, appeasing kids with said junk food to get them back in the car, only to get home and THEN when you want to fall in a heap staying up to make school lunches – as the kids become hyperactive from the junk food you just let them have.
I generally make up bulk bread mix so that I have a stash ready to go. Because I use this as an occasional mid-week filler rather than an everyday food, I tend to make up three or four packets at a time. I store the mixture in large, labelled zip-lock bags – which I then reuse several times. It takes a bit of time to measure out the mixture, but I find it doesn’t take much more to do four than it does to make one.
Combine the following in a bag or container
4 cups (450g) baking flour or plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons white sugar
4 tablespoons full cream milk powder
1 teaspoon bread improver (optional)
1 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon yeast
To bake a loaf of bread, add 350ml of water to the base of a bread maker. Pour in the bread mix (above), and add one tablespoon of softened butter. Sprinkle on 1 teaspoon of dry yeast on top of the flour (the idea is to prevent it from getting wet, which is important if you want to scheduled the bread cycle so that it is baked fresh for when you wake up first thing in the morning).
Bake on a normal cycle (around 3 hours). Makes one medium-sized loaf.
Milk powder: 10c
Bread improver 10c
Electricity: 16c (based on https://www.ergon.com.au/network/manage-your-energy/home-energy-tips/calculators/appliance-running-cost-calculator calculations)
Comparison with pre-mix: 10kg Laucke flour breadmix $20.98 in bulk for ten kilograms or probably around $1.40 per loaf, plus 16c baking).