I have been making our own bread for many many years now. It is much cheaper than shop-bought bread, it tastes far better and it is free from preservatives and additives. If you use renewable energy at home (either on your own roof or by way of subscribing to a green energy option with your energy provider) your bread will definitely produce a smaller carbon-footprint than commercial bread. Plus, of course, as you only produce "on demand", there is far less waste.
And it is really simple. I sometimes make a batch of several loaves of bread in the oven, otherwise I use our breadmaker.
I have gone through three breadmakers over the years (daily use does take its toll on them eventually). I have not found a great difference in baking capacity between more expensive brands and cheaper makes, although one of the cheaper breadmakers I have owned in the past did have a problem with seals coming off around the small shafts that turn the kneader knifes. So it is worth inspecting a breadmaker closely before buying it.
One thing I did notice, however, was that the cheaper brands tend to come with instruction booklets that are close to hopeless. I had one booklet with bread recipes where the flour was missing in the list of ingredients. My current breadmaker came with recipes that simply did not work - the bread would either rise and then collapse or it would form one big solid lump.
So here is my tried and true basic breadmaking recipe which worked in every breadmaker I have ever owned.
Add to your breadmaker bowl in the order specified for your breadmaker (some need the liquid first, others the flour, so check your instructions if unsure).
350 ml water
good dash of olive oil (approximately 2 tablespoons' worth)
2 teaspoons of salt (less if you prefer!)
500 grams of flour
1 1/4 teaspoons of instant yeast.
That's it. Turn bread-maker on and three hours later, you have a beautiful loaf of bread.
Now, this is the basic recipe, and from there on you can stretch it in all sorts of different ways.
- Add a tablespoon of sugar. Makes the bread slightly sweeter and changes the texture a little bit.
- Use milk instead of water.
- Use an egg plus milk instead of water. This will give a denser texture.
- Add a tablespoon of sugar, a teaspoon of cinnamon and half a cup of raisins to make raisin bread.
- Add some linseed, sesame seed, sunflower seed etc for multi-grain bread.
- Add a handful of walnuts (plus, if you like, a teaspoon of cinnamon) for walnut bread.
- Use yoghurt instead of water.
- Add caraway seeds for a different taste.
- Add some grated cheese for cheese bread.
- Use butter instead of olive oil.
- Replace some of the flour (up to 50 g or so) with rolled oats.
The options are endless, once you get going!
Is it worth making your own bread?
To give you an idea of how much you will save making your own bread:
Last time I bought flour I paid A$0.79 for one kilo, so I will use A$0.39 for my loaf of bread.
The other ingredients of my basic loaf add approximately another A$0.03 to my basic cost. Plus electricity to run the breadmaker. I estimate it costs me around A$0.05 per loaf. Add to that the depreciation cost of my breadmaker - my current one and my previous one both cost A69.00. They last, with daily use, at least 3 years, which makes another A$0.06 per loaf (assuming I make one loaf a day, which is about right).
So this comes to a total of A$0.53 per loaf of bread. This is half the cost of the cheapest (and not very nice) loaf at ALDI. Even the luxury loaves described above (walnut bread, raisin bread, multi-grain bread etc) will still be under A$ 0.60 a loaf.
And because we are using 100% green power in this household, carbon emissions from baking our bread are zero.