I use up to a loaf a week, sandwiches for lunch, french toast, a base for stew, toasted and smeared with roasted garlic alongside roasted veggies or pasta. I tried to do the low carb thing once and was ready to take hostages at a dunkin donuts by day 3. I'm fine with salads and roastsed veggies with my meat, but I missed toast with my bacon and eggs.
But everything in moderation. Still, thinking as to the cost, I wondered - ow much does it cost to bake a loaf versus buy. Using the best quality flour (I love King Arthur for breads, White Lily for biscuits, pancakes and waffles) and getting your yeast in bulk you can bake a loaf of bread (baking two at a time in the oven to reduce fuel cost) for a little more than a dollar. If you buy cheaper an/or bulk flours, you'll save even more. Artisan breads in the store cost up to $4-5. For myself, baking two loafs (freezing one) rather than buying a loaf of the fancy bread saves me over a couple hundred dollars a year). That's just one person. With a family, over time, that adds up!
Midwest Chick makes the best bread in the world, a sweet white bread that makes up awesome sandwiches and toast. One day, she showed me how to make it and unlike her "I love you but if you share this they will never find the body" brownie cookie recipe, this one I can share. (late day low light didn't make for the best pictures but you get the idea).
Measure out six cups of flour. (King Arthur bread flour was used). Flours are different, and some brands may require less or more than the recipe calls for, some, for products like biscuits, give a taller, more tender product (using soft wheats). I am just telling you what I've had good luck with, but you may have excellent luck with another brand that is less expensive. It's something you just learn over time.
Add flour, a cup at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon. When almost all of the flour is added the batter will look stringy like thick elastic, and want to slide off the spoon. Add the rest of the flour (but gradually, so you use only what you need) until it's too thick to stir.
Remove the dough to a clean floured board or surface and knead it by pushing with the palm of clean, dry hands. After each push, bring the dough back towards you, gather up the sides and push again watching that you don't poke holes in it with your fingers.
Add flour to the board to keep it from sticking but not too much, or the dough will be dry.
The more you knead, the finer texture your bread will have, but you also don't want to over work it.
Knead it til it's becoming silky smooth and doesn't stick to your hands. If it's "shaggy" looking, doesn't hold a shape or tears, it's NOT ready.
Place in a well oiled BIG bowl and turn to coat both sides. Cover with a clean, damp kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place free from drafts until doubled, about an hour. You want a temperature of about 75 degrees F. If the house is chilled, I'll turn the oven on for just a few seconds, then turn it off, to get it a little warm and put the bread inside. watching though that it's not too hot or your bread will be course textured.
Now go find something to do. It's quiet, you've got an hour. Go commune with nature. .
Or check on your emergency supplies. . .
When it is doubled in size, remove dough from its resting place, perfect
Time for some fun with that third loaf.
We added some crushed red pepper, cracked black pepper and Parmesan and slightly kneaded it in. You also could do fresh or dried herbs or garlic. Then, a little bit more fresh shaved Parmesan was sprinkled on top after we brushed all of the tops with another Tablespoon (or as needed) of melted butter before that final raise.
Allow to rise for 1 hour, until double and about an inch above the pans. (OK, these weren't all exactly the same size, Yeungling may have been involved).
Remove from oven and remove from the pans as soon as possible. (Letting it cool in the pan may result in the bottom of the bread being a bit soggy).
Thanks Midwest Chick, for the recipe! I hope you all try it, the kneading takes a little practice but it's fun, relaxing, and the bigger your family, the more money you will save over 20 ingredient store bought bread. If the room or the water are too cold or hot and it doesn't rise like expected bake it anyway, it will make great bread pudding or croutons. If it doesn't rise AT ALL, well, there's not much you can do but launch it at a hippie with a trebuchet or bury it. But with these hints, hopefully that won't happen.
Some other Range tips: This has no preservatives. If you're not going to use it in three days, keep it in the fridge. For small households the bread itself freezes well in a plastic bag sealed tight . When you remove it to thaw, let it thaw in the bag without opening. Opening the bag while it thaws adds moisture to the bread you do not want.