Making our own bread is one of the most significant and delicious cost savings in our grocery budget. There are many amazing bakeries in our area, but loaves run $4-8 each! This post on Why I Bake Our Bread was one of my first ever, but not exactly the most detailed. I've done the math, and the recipe that I make for us costs $1.66 a batch, and that gives us a loaf of sandwich bread and 12 rolls. That's a pretty significant savings. In addition to that, the bread is delicious; it has a nice crust, makes perfect toast or sandwiches, and as long as you keep it in a sealed container, it stays fresh for the week. Also there's nothing quite like the smell of fresh baked bread to make wherever you live feel homey.
I use the Instant Pot on the yogurt setting to proof my bread (the part where the dough rises) because it creates a perfect environment for the yeast to grow and do it's thing, and it stays consistent. This recipe is better the longer you let it rise, I like to let it go eight hours in the Instant Pot, but you can do as few as 4 and still get delicious results.
If you don't have an Instant Pot you can use a slowcooker/crockpot turned on the warming setting, if you have a dehydrator with removable trays you can set the dehydrator to 70F, or if you have a gas oven you can warm it slightly and then count on the pilot light to keep the dough warm enough to promote yeast growth. If you have a consistently warm (70F+) spot in your house, that can work too. For any option other than the slow cooker or instant pot, be sure to place a damp towel over the top of your bowl of dough so it doesn't dry out.
One special trick that really changed my luck with this bread is sifting the flour before measuring. Scooping the flour directly out of the container can cause the flour to get very compressed and you can end up adding up to 25% more flour to your recipe, yielding a still great smelling but not as appealingly textured brick. Professional bakers often weigh their baking ingredients for perfect accuracy, but I haven't invested in a kitchen scale yet.
This bread takes maybe 10 minutes total work to make, spread out over 10 hours. You can let it rise overnight and then bake it in the morning, but honestly I never remember to start it at night, and I am usually putting my bread in the oven around the time my kid goes to bed. Here's a fun little time lapse video of all the actual "work" of making the bread. I wish I had an oven camera, but I'm not quite that high tech!
I essentially use The Splendid Table's recipe, but I deviate when it comes to actually baking the bread. When I let the dough rise a second time I do it in the pans I will be baking the bread in, which are greased with olive oil. I have made the round loaves on a pizza stone that are described in the recipe, but I just don't have much use for a low, round loaf. I find I get much more use out of a dozen rolls, made in a muffin tin, and a regular rectangular loaf of bread. It doesn't yield the same super super crisp outside, or look quite as fancy, but having toast, sandwich bread, and rolls to have with soups and stews more than makes up for that for me. If you are making a loaf with the intention of having a fancy dinner or bringing it to a potluck where it will all be eaten in one night, try the round crispy loaf, it's beautiful! For everyday bread, I will stick to my rolls and sandwich loaf though. I preheat the oven to 400F, and bake for 35 minutes.
Do you bake your own bread? What recipe do you use? Tell me about it! If you're interested in more great recipes sign up here for my upcoming e-cookbook of meatless, toddler friendly recipes, out Labor Day!
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