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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Basic White Bread Dough Recipe: Store versus Homemade


My youngest daughter (5 years old) loves to bake and one of our favorite things to bake on Sundays is fresh baked bread.  Now I doubt there are not too many people that could argue that fresh baked bread/rolls from your oven beats store bought bread, though I was curious if I am actually saving money baking it myself.  For now I am going to tackle the cost comparison of bread dough and cover the actual cost of baking in the next post.

The cost of materials completely depends on the recipe being made, so here is the one I am working with:

Simple White Bread Dough Recipe

  • 4 cups warm water
  • 1 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 3 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons of active yeast
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 12 cups of flour


  • Dissolve sugar in warm water, followed by yeast in power mixer.  Allow to proof until contents looks like some light brown cream foam. 
  • Add salt and oil and 6 cups of flour one cup of a time. 
  • Switch to hook attachment and add flour until dough does not stick to your finger when you touch it. 
  • Cover with damp cloth and allow to rise until it doubles in size. 
  • Punch down bread dough and divide into fourths and place into well oiled 9X5 inch loaf pans allowing to rise for 30 minutes (or freeze for use later)
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes

The Contender – Store Bought

The competition: Rhodes Frozen Bread Dough, $3.49 for 3 frozen loaves or approximately $1.16 per loaf


Ingredients: Unbleached Enriched White Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate or Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Yeast, Soybean Oil and/or Canola Oil, Salt, Malt, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Yeast Nutrients (Calcium Sulfate, Ammonium Chloride), Abscorbic Acid, Enzyme.

The Challenger - Homemade

To be fair I probably should have use the same ingredients as the contender buy being fresh out of Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate and Ammonium Chloride I went with the recipe above.

Here are the costs of making the bread dough yourself:

Ingredient Amount Cost
Water 4 cups $ 0.001
Sugar 1 1/3 cups $ 0.426
Yeast 3 tablespoons $ 1.339
Salt 3 teaspoons $ 0.020
Vegetable Oil 1/2 cup $ 0.210
Flour 12 cups $ 1.497


Now given I used an electric mixer but given it was used for maybe 10 minutes at 35 watts the cost is definitely minimal.  The total cost of the ingredients for this recipe is $3.49, given the above recipe creates 4 loaves of bread this equates to a total cost of $0.87 per loaf.  So in the end making the bread dough yourself will save you $0.23 per loaf or about $24 a year assuming you consume a couple of loafs bread per week. 

It does take about 2 hours to make the bread (though much of this is rising) on the same side frozen bread dough take a few hours to defrost and rise.  Without a motorized mixer mixing and kneading your homemade bread dough is quite a workout, this one could be a close call. 

The Decision…


Store bought


Price   image   image   image   image
Taste   image   image   image   image   image   image   image
Difficulty   image   image     image   image   image

This one was a close one though homemade still came out on top.  With its superior taste and you still have to defrost and let the dough rise there is a decent effort even for the frozen bread dough.  Plus my daughter likes adding the ingredients the most anyway so either way we will be making the homemade option.


Red Icculus said...

Have you ever seen "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois? It promotes using a reusable starter to save on yeast cost and time spent rising. It also has all sorts of unconventional recipes that you wouldn't expect to make with homemade bread products.

Going Homemade said...

Is that something like the classic “Amish Friendship Bread” where a neighbor drops off a bag of fermenting liquid and you squish it add ingredients and after a week or so make some bread? Though the starter is not actually a secret recipe only known by the Amish and for that matter does not actually originate from Amish, sounds like the concept is the same.

I guess I do not completely understand the biology of the process going on though personally the thought of the same yeast, milk, sugar, flour fermenting around for months at a time unrefrigerated seems wrong :) Though this is definitely a way to cut the cost of yeast from overall cost of baking bread.

d0ver said...

Sorry I know this is an older post but in my defense I just found it :-) Bread in Five minutes a day is not like Amish Friendship Bread. It is more like making a starter one day then using that starter to make 5 more loaves through out the next 2 weeks. To put your mind at ease instead of leaving this out on the counter this needs to be in the refrigerator. You should be able to get the book "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" at you local library. Here is a link to describe more in detail. http://www.motherearthnews.com/Real-Food/Artisan-Bread-In-Five-Minutes-A-Day.aspx

mother of boys said...

Try buying yeast in a 1 lb bag (like at Costco). It keeps forever in the freezer as long as you keep it in an airtight containter (such as a baggie) so moisture can't get in and corrupt your yeast. Now your bread is MUCH, MUCH cheaper.