If you don’t understand what’s so special about bread, chances are you’ve been buying your loaves from the store. Homemade breads taste sweeter, have fewer ingredients, and are less expensive than store-bought bread. But like everything else, people are afraid that making it yourself will take too long. Today we share simple recipes for white bread and banana bread that will make you never want store-bought again.
This week’s Food Finances Friday Feature is a guest-post by my husband. The other day he awoke with a weird craving for homemade bread. He had never had any luck making it before. But he was determined to find an easy and manageable way to satisfy his craving without going to an actual bakery! Here is how his homemade bread adventure turned out.
Bread is a staple food in most homes. With three kids, our family goes through two loaves a week. At approximately $2.50 a loaf, that adds up to $20 a month just on bread. The store-bought bread we’ve used for years has over 20 ingredients (some of which I cannot pronounce). Saving money and eating healthier are two values for our family. Making homemade bread moves us closer to both those values.
Related article: How Much Does a Family of 5 Spend on Food?
Making Homemade Bread
The first thing I had to do was look through our pantry to make sure I had everything I needed to make the bread. Luckily, I had everything on hand. I got out my Kitchen Aid mixer and dough hook, warm water, yeast, sugar, salt, olive oil, and flour. All things most people have in their kitchen at all times. Some recipes call for some crazy things like wheat germ or other savory items for flavor. I just wanted fresh hot bread. You will need:
- 1 cup warm water FREE
- 1 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast $0.23
- 1/3 cup sugar – purchased on BOGO $0.07
- 1/2 teaspoon salt $0.004
- 2 tablespoons olive oil $0.31
- 2 1/2 – 3 cups flour $0.61
Proofing the Yeast
I was always afraid of yeast for some reason. I thought the added step of proofing active dry yeast was unnecessary so I always got instant yeast. This was my first mistake in making bread. Instant or rapid-rise yeast has always yielded a more “yeasty” flavor to my bread. It almost tasted of beer (not a bad thing but not what I want in regular bread). Active dry yeast must be proofed in warm water to “activate” it. Take 1 cup of warm water (105°F- 110°F), add 1 3/4 teaspoons of yeast, and 1/3 cup of sugar. Stir to lightly mix the ingredients. Let set for 3 – 5 minutes until the water begins to foam meaning the yeast is activated.
Adding the Ingredients
Next, add all ingredients to the proofed yeast:
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 1/2 – 3 cups flour
Using the dough hook, mix the ingredients on the lowest setting to combine the flour slowly with the water. I have made the mistake of being impatient and tried to initially mix on medium and had a snowy white kitchen to clean up for my shortcut as flour was flung everywhere! Once the flour and water have been combined you may turn up the speed to knead the dough. Let the mixer run for about 7 – 10 minutes until your dough reaches a nice thick consistency.
While the dough is kneading, prep the bread pan by coating the inside with butter so the bread doesn’t stick when it is done.
Let the Dough Rise
Place the dough into the bread pan and cover with a kitchen towel. Place it in a warm place and allow to rise for 20 – 30 minutes.
When the dough is almost finished rising, pre-heat oven to 350°F.
Cooking the Bread
Now that the dough has risen and the oven pre-heated, it is time to cook the bread and fill your house with a smell that will make your mouth water. I find that placing the pan on a lower rack results in a better bake for your bread. If placed on an upper rack the top of the bread will burn before the inside has a chance to cook properly.
The bread should bake for 30 – 35 minutes. Make sure you check every 5 minutes after 30 minutes to avoid burning. The bread is done when the crust is dry, very firm, and golden brown and delicious.
I like to bake the bread for 20 minutes, then melt butter over the top and allow to finish cooking the remaining 10 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack and satisfy your craving!
Another “bread” (we all know it is really cake) I love to make using pantry staples is banana bread. Any time we have bananas that are over ripe and the children refuse to eat them, I make this bread and they won’t stop eating it!
- 2 – 3 very ripe bananas (peeled) $0.68
- 1/3 cup butter (softened) $0.60
- 1 tsp Baking Soda $0.009
- Pinch of Kosher Salt
- 1/4 cup Brown Sugar $0.13
- 1/4 cup Sugar $0.10
- 1 egg $0.23
- 1 1/2 cups AP Flour $0.31
Preheat oven to 350°F and butter a loaf pan. Mix bananas until smooth. Add the butter, baking soda, salt, both sugars, egg and mix to combine. Slowly mix in the flour.
Bake for 50 mins to 1 hour. Bread is done when a toothpick (or a piece of uncooked spaghetti #KitchenHack) comes out clean when inserted into the center. Let it cool in the pan for a few minutes, then remove and allow to cool completely before enjoying!
Related article: Don’t Throw That Out, I’ll Eat It
Whether you’re enjoying a slice of bread as a snack (yes, it is craveable on it’s own) or a piece of banana bread for dessert, the price and taste of homemade cannot be compared to store-bought.
What are your tips and tricks for simple yet amazing homemade bread?