Sunday, August 24, 2008

Where the Plastic Meets the Wallet

In relation to my previous post about reducing our plastic consumption, I've been taking a closer look at all of the plastic coming into our house, and immediately saw what our (plastic) achilles heel is: Costco. In a day when food prices are going nuts, we're trying to save on many fronts. Most of those also happen to bring our food closer to home: gardening, having chickens, gleaning, picking fruit locally, relying on local folks for our milk and meat, etc.

But then there are the things that are certainly not at all cheaper to buy locally. Number one on the list would be bread. We've got a couple of wonderful local bakeries that make awesome organic whole-grain breads. The rub? They're over $4.00 a loaf these days, eep! At Costco I can get two loaves of sprouted organic whole-grains bread for about $2.50 a loaf. Which, when you've got a son who eats as much as mine does, and a daughter who just joined the swim team (in addition to dance, horseback riding, karate, and bicycling everywhere), well you go through a lot of bread, so that really adds up. But unfortunately Costco likes to sell things in bulk, which means that you can't just buy one loaf of bread, you have to buy two of them. And they have to wrap them all up in extra plastic so that they're bagged up together, which is pretty irritating but not enough to make me spend $1.50 more for every loaf.

I know, I know. I should make my own. I've tried. A couple of times. The kids have begged me not to try again. I can make white-flour loaves that come out just fine, but whenever I try to add in the nutritional density of my favorite organic loaves, mine just come out...well... dense. And not in the nutritional sense. I'm contemplating a bread machine, but until then it's probably going to be Costco and the extra plastic bags.

Anyone who has a fool-proof seriously nutritious yet fluffy and wonderful tasting bread recipe, feel free to let me know!


Elizabeth said...

Have you tried Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book? It's the only bread recipe I use (besides specialty breads that only get used a few times a year) and we all love the 100% whole wheat bread. The technique includes two things that I think are crucial for lighter whole wheat bread: a long time kneading (you can use a mixer if you have one that can handle the dough) and two rising times before the final rise in the pans. But get the book and follow the step-by-step instructions--it's like taking a class!

Tall Kate said...

I bake a lot of bread, and my the best advice I can offer is this: no matter what, do NOT add too much flour. Most recipes seem to call for too much flour.

The softer (even stickier) the dough, the softer the finished bread will be. Seriously, take *any* bread recipe, and just allow the dough to be nice and soft, and the resulting bread will be lighter.

Beyond that, if you want to make truly fantastic whole grain bread, you should try Peter Reinhart's book (amazingly enough, entitled "Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads"). You might try the library. The recipes are quite involved, often requiring an overnight starter, but so totally worth it.

Brenda said...

No specific recipe for you, but a couple of questions. What type of flours are you using? Are you using a sour? Some of the non-wheat flours need the acid from the sour or they turn out like doorstops. Like a rye. The acid of a sour protects the starches that give them structure.

Also, if you are adding seeds and whatnot, are you soaking them first to prevent them from robbing your bread of moisture?

Karen said...


I make refrigerator bread dough. It is incredibly versatile, and because it does the first rise in the fridge, it feels like a lot less work than most other breads. I have messed around with this recipe a lot, adding whatever I feel like to it, it hasn't let me down yet. It is nice and fluffy and soft! It makes a great flatbread as well.

Recipe is here:

thebookbaglady said...

I'm a busy home school mom, too. I make 'cheater bread'. I bought a great, used bread machine at Goodwill (an Oster, no less!) and I use the 'dough cycle' option. I put in the ingredients and let the bread machine do the mixing, rising, mixing, etc. I use Costco yeast, too, which lasts quite a while in the fridge. After the 'dough cycle' is done I let the bread rise on a pizza stone and bake it myself so I don't get a 'bread machine brick'. Round loaves work well and slice well. I've found some great recipes in the BREAD MACHINE MAGIC book. I have a wonderful baker friend who proofs the yeast, etc. Frankly, I don't have the time to fuss like that. The dough cycle option works well for me.