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It’s January and you know what that means in the Midwest – COLD! Spending more time indoors (even snowed in at times) also means that I have more time for baking and thrifting.
When we stay home, we always save more money. That should be obvious, I guess, but I’m always astounded how little DIY projects and making more from-scratch recipes really makes a difference in our monthly budget.
Now, before you think I’m sitting here baking up a storm and homesteading on a regular basis – I’ll just say, this isn’t typical! While I make most of our dinners from scratch, I don’t usually have time for things like making bread.
But during the winter months especially, I dig out this recipe and enjoy not only eating it (it’s delicious!) but saving some money as well.
So if you’re not-a-Martha-Stewart like me, you’ll appreciate the simplicity of this recipe.
When I was pregnant with my son (almost 5 years ago, sniff sniff), I took the plunge into the work-from-home world and left my steady job at a law firm. This change came with great freedom but also required us to cut back on spending drastically, as my new career paid significantly less. (That’s a long story for another day, but it IS possible to work from home and make more than I did at that time. I learned a lot in those first two years of freelancing.)
Anyhow, I remember stumbling across a recipe for homemade sandwich bread and decided I would try it out, mainly to save money. Who doesn’t love homemade bread, anyhow? I’ve modified this recipe over time through trial and error, so I can claim it, right?! 🙂
• Related article: 5 Easy Ways to Save $100 on Groceries This Month
I calculated that this bread costs me approximately $0.64/loaf to make. It uses very simple ingredients, as you’ll notice, which is another plus when you’re stuck at home and may not have fancy stuff on hand like powdered milk and whatnot (popular in other homemade recipes.)
*Tip: Buy yeast in bulk at your local health food store for best value. I buy enough to fill a standard size mason jar and keep it in my freezer where it is generally good for up to a year.
Getting to the point….
○ 1 C. Hot Water
○ 2 Tablespoons Sugar
○ 2 3/4 teaspoons yeast (*this is 1/2 tsp more than a standard one-use packet — another reason to buy in it in bulk. It seems to rise more consistently when I use this amount.)
○ 3 cups all-purpose flour OR bread flour
○ 1/4 cup vegetable oil
○ 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
#1. Mix together the hot water (not scalding, but hot from the tap), sugar and yeast and stir. Let sit for about 10 minutes, allowing the yeast to “bloom”. See below.
#2. Dump this mixture into a stand mixer and mix in the vegetable oil, salt and the flour, one cup at a time, using your dough hook. Alternatively, you can use a hand mixer to combine the ingredients and then knead it by hand. I’m terrible at kneading and have definitely gotten my money’s worth out of my stand mixer.
#3. Continue mixing a few minutes until dough clings to the bread hook and doesn’t stick to the bowl. Mix another 3-4 minutes after the non-sticky dough is formed. (That’s a very technical baking term) 🙂
#4. Remove dough from hook, place dough ball in a bowl and cover with a light kitchen towel. Let rise in a draft-free area for approximately 1.5 hours or until the dough doubles in size.
#5. Punch down, shape into an oval loaf-like shape and turn the seams under. You can read tutorials on how to do this properly but I simply tuck the excess dough underneath the bottom of the loaf without using water to pinch the seams and it works just fine!
#6. In a greased loaf pan, let dough rise a second time until almost doubled – approximately one hour. See below.
#7. Bake approximately 25 minutes at 350 degrees.
Isn’t it beautiful?? Gosh, I seriously love how pretty baked bread looks on a platter. But it tastes even better!
If you’re planning to slice it for sandwich bread, it works better if you wait until the next day. It will be a little firmer and easier to slice. That said, even straight out of the oven, it’s actually denser than most bread-machine recipes I’ve tried in the past that often have large air pockets/holes in the bread.
If you decide to make several batches of bread to freeze for later, I would recommend these bags from Amazon.
Drop me a note and let me know if you try this recipe – OR leave your favorite tips for saving money in the kitchen!
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