Sunday, February 9, 2014

DIY -- Basic Cooking V: Baking

All the recipes I've given you up to now you can make cheaper and healthier from scratch at home compared to either buying them pre-made or getting them at a restaurant.  (Some of them you can't get at a restaurant.)  The real payoff, however, is when you get to baking bread.

Bread is one of the most forgiving things you can bake, just as soup is one of the most forgiving things you can make for yourself without baking.  I've made all kinds of mistakes making bread, and the only one that really ruined things was using flour that was way too old.  The bread turned out like concrete.

It wasn't this easy in the past but now we have domesticated yeast packaged in exactly the right amount to make a single batch of bread.  We also have ovens with internal thermostats that heat to exactly the right temperature and stay at that temperature, whether they use gas or electricity.

Baking your own bread uses an average of three to five ingredients, instead of a dozen or twenty that you see listed on the plastic wrappers in the store.  It avoids all those chemicals.  You can use unbleached flour and avoid the bleaching agent that Subway is just now eliminating from its rolls.  (That chemical is still in the buns used by McDonald's and Burger King.) 

Baking your own bread can save you between $1 and $3 per loaf.  For me, that's up to $150 a year and I'm single, no kids.  The savings depend on how many loaves you use a week.  Make your kids do it when they get home from school and you'll have fresh bread for dinner, almost fresh bread for breakfast and lunch the next day, and eventually you can make French toast from the stale bread, which is how French toast originated anyway.

Even if you buy a breadmaker -- and your kids will love messing with that! -- you will make back its price in the first 52 weeks.

If you don't want to spend the money on a bread-maker, I can tell you from experience that making bread by hand is a zen-like experience and also a great upper-body workout.

There are bread recipes all over the internet. Next week I'll give you my favorite, which my nieces like better than cookies.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

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