Why You Should Start Making Your Own Bread (and Stop Buying It)

Recipe: Black Strap Oatmeal Bread – Vegan and Easy, no kneading

I can think of at least 10 good reasons to make your own bread, but in this article I’m only going to take a swing at about 3 of them. There will be more to come in what I might call “Bread-o-mania, part II”

Reason #1: Homemade bread can save you serious money – Have you seen the cost of bread these days? Even before the pandemic the prices have been inching ever upwards from $3.00 to $6.00 a loaf, depending on much fancy organic this or that shows up on the ingredient list. And then after you’ve gotten it home, you only manage to eat about half of it before you have to throw out a $5 investment.

If you had made it yourself chances are it would have cost you less than a dollar, or around $.50 for basic sandwich bread (see my article “Make Your Own Fresh Bread”). All you really need is just flour, yeast, salt and water — very basic, very cheap ingredients — and about 40 minutes of bake time and you will have a fragrant slice of heaven just waiting to be blessed with butter.

Well, now I’m going to tell you something which will change your life, or at least the way you eat and store bread for the rest of your life: Do not store your bread anywhere but in the Freezer. From the first slice to the last, as soon as you bring it home from the store or pop it out of the pan, bread should always stay in the freezer. Bread freezes wonderfully and always thaws back to the state it was before freezing.

Here’s how to conveniently freeze your bread for everyday use and never waste a slice:

  1. As soon as your bread comes out of the oven and is cooled off, slice up the entire loaf to the thickness you like. Put the sliced up loaf (or not sliced if you prefer) into a plasic bag and place it in the freezer.
  2. Then each day, as you need it, break off a slice or more from the frozen loaf and put the rest back in the freezer (never any need to thaw the whole loaf).
  3. Put the slice(s) in the toaster and toast on “defrost” or use just one cycle that would normally toast unfrozen bread. This will thaw the bread and make it ready for sandwiches.
  4. If you want toast, put the thawed bread through a second cycle of toasting and you will have toast like you would’ve before freezing.

In the meantime, you’ve saved even more money because you don’t have to waste even one slice of the bread (which brings us back to reason #1, right?) Homemade bread will stay good in the freezer for weeks if not months.

Reason #3 Plus: It’s easy, it’s fun and you don’t need a bread machine. Seriously! Many recipes call for only 4-5 ingredients and just a handful of steps. You don’t even have to knead the dough in many cases — unless you want to. (Note: In these days of pandemic pandemonium, kneading dough could be something of a stress reliever.) And especially with no kneading there’s not much point in wasting money on a bread machine — unless you happen to like that kind of gadgetry. If so, have at.

Bread making can be a lot of fun for kids and it can be useful for teaching kids about cooking, baking and other skills and good habits needed in the kitchen. Adults will also find that bread making can be satisfying and calming and can bring new meaning to the phrase, “the end justifies the means.”

And now, if you have become sufficiently enthused about bread making, why not take a crack at the recipe below? The only ingredient that might be a little unusual for new bread makers is the vital wheat gluten. But fear not. Even in these times of stockpiling and shortages, your grocery store or health food store should have the wheat gluten and all the other ingredients listed below.

Black Strap Oatmeal Bread

  • Pour 14 oz of warm water in a large warmed bowl
  • Sprinkle 2 tsps. or one 7 oz yeast package over the water
  • Add 1 1/2 tsp. salt to the water
  • Add 2 tbsp. molasses to the water
    • Stir and let it rest for a minute
  • (before stirring again) Add 3 cups of whole wheat flour
  • Add 1/2 tbsp. nutritive yeast (optional)
  • Add 2 tbsps. of vital wheat gluten
  • Add 2 cups of oatmeal
    • Stir all together thoroughly until a ragged bowl is formed that is moist (if not, add a little more water) but the sides don’t stick to the bowl (if needed, sprinkle in a little more flour)
    • Cover the bowl completely with dishtowels (to keep it a little warm) and proof for 1 and a half hours
  • Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and stir it again in order to de-gas. Then sprinkle a handful of oatmeal all over the sticky dough ball at this time.
  • Place the dough into a greased or sprayed bread pan, sprinkle more oatmeal on top (no need to form it or make it touch the sides, etc. – it will do that on it’s own).
    • Let the dough proof in the bread pan — cover with a dish towel again — for about an hour or until the loaf begins to crest above the top of the pan.
  • Bake for 40 minutes in a 400 degree oven
  • (you may want to place foil over the top of the loaf for the last 10-15 minutes to keep it from over browning).

See, wasn’t that easy? And believe me, this oatmeal bread is going to taste great. Please let me know if you try the recipe and be sure to drop any comments or pointers you have in the comments below.

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