Your Daily Bread, Part II: Don’t Buy It — Start making it!

(Recipe: Really Easy Banana Bread (or Muffins) – Vegan, works everytime)

You can save a lot of money making your own bread, as we have already discussed (See my article, Why You Should Start Making Your Own Bread). Three to five dollars down to 50 cents a loaf is a pretty big deal. And when you can freeze your bread and just use what you need each day, there is far less waste — yet again, another big savings.

But there are even more great reasons to make your own bread rather than buy it. I think one of the biggest can be boiled down to one word: Yeast.

Reason #4: Yeast! – Yeast is a very important ingredient in the bread we normally buy and eat (as opposed to flat breads and other flour based products that don’t require yeast). Yeast is the living property that is added to bread dough causing it to rise and have coherent structure and a ‘crumb’ that is easy and delectable to chew. It has health benefits, and of course, yeast adds to the flavor and produces that almost deliriously good smell everyone associates with baking bread.

But here’s the thing: by the time most storebought bread reaches your home, the yeast in it is dead. It has already been on a long journey of over-processing, and packaging, and transport, etc. And then add to that all of the chemicals that have been injected into the dough to shorten rising time, add color and taste, and to prolong shelf life. Thanks to these chemicals and the over-processing, nearly all of the wonderful benefits of the yeast in the bread you just bought are long gone by the time it lands on your plate.

Reason #5: Homemade bread does have living yeast but doesn’t have any chemical additives – Only four basic ingredients are needed to make delicious homemade bread: Flour, Yeast, Salt, Water. But once you have gotten used to the simplicity of homemade bread you really can’t go back to storebought very easily. This is because you will realize you really can taste the chemical additives. Not only do they lend a strange taste but some of them are actually dangerous. In fact, the US allows food manufacturers to use chemical preservatives that have long been banned in Europe and Asia. Some of this “bad stuff” is potassium bromate and partially hydrogenated oils which are known to contain transfats.

I remember back in the day when it when it was explosively revealed that some major bread manufacturers were using formaldehyde (a proponent of embalming fluid) as a preservative. This was back in the 1980’s and a lot of people stopped buying manufactured bread back then. But since then that particular ingredient has been banned and now many people have forgotten and drifted back to buying those same major brand breads.

Reason #5: Probiotics and Prebiotics: Yeast is both a probiotic, a living organism that is healthful to have in the human gut and it helps feed and strengthen a healthy biome in lower digestive system overall. It helps strengthen immunity and it wards off and even cures some infections and inflammation. And though yeast is more of a fungi than a bacteria, it feeds and supports healthy bacteria and enzymes that are crucial for good digestion and thereby prevents many of the problems that can result from poor digestion.

But the main thing about Yeast (particularly in breads) is that it is delicious, it envelopes the senses of taste, smell and even memory — it is ‘aroma therapy’ in and of itself. And so for those just starting out on their bread making journey, let’s try making this really easy bread recipe, which as it happens, has no yeast in it…

No yeast in this bread — because it doesn’t need to proof or rise for any length of time. But I decided to include this recipe for new bread makers for two reasons: First, because it is a very forgiving recipe and a great confidence builder. And it’s something almost everyone loves. [But if you want to start now with a good easy yeast bread, see my article “Make Your Own Fresh Bread” for a fail-safe Basic (yeast) Bread recipe.]

The other reason I have featured a yeast-less bread in this article is that unfortunately some baking supplies, such as yeast, can be a little hard to find right now due to the pandemic. People are apparently hoarding pantry staples they don’t even know how to use because they’ve never bought them before. Hence the unnecessary shortages the rest of us have to endure recently. Hopefully this situation will be corrected sometime soon.


Really Easy Banana Bread (or Muffins)

(Makes one 9 x 5 loaf or 6 large muffins or 10 smaller muffins)

  • 2 – 3 over ripe bananas
  • 2 cups flour, any kind (I last used whole wheat and brown rice flour)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs substitutes (I recommend two tablespoons of yogurt mixed with 2 tablespoons of water, but any egg substitute will work)
  • 1/2 cup plant milk or water
  • Suggested spices: 1 tbsp cinnamon, 2 tsps nutmeg, 2 tsps ground ginger
  • OPTIONAL: This bread is great as is, but if you want and you got em’, you can toss in Walnut pieces, or pecan pieces, or chocolate chips, or raisins.

Here’s all you gotta do:

  1. Mix together the dry ingredients in a medium size bowl: flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and the spices.
  2. Mash up the bananas and place in a larger bowl. Add the vanilla, the brown sugar and the egg substitutes to the mashed bananas and stir.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture, stirring to mix, and add the half cup of milk gradually until a fairly stiff (not runny) batter is formed.
  4. Spray or grease a 9 inch loaf pan or a muffin tin and spoon in the batter.
  5. Crank the oven to about 375 degrees and bake for 30 minutes (or until a tooth pick comes out clean).

And that’s it. Now you are ready to slather on the butter while the steam is still rising from a hefty slab of your delicious banana bread. Next up, try a Basic yeast bread recipe with only four inexpensive ingredients (as soon as these items are back on the shelves and the bunker mentality causing the shortages has receded). The day will surely come when all these items are plentiful once again — Viva la Pan!

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