An earth friendly loaf

Bread is a simple, staple food we’ve made unnecessarily complex and somewhat unhealthy in modern times. Added to questionable ingredients found in some loaves these days are commercial production processes that are often downright environmentally unfriendly. I’ve made mention of some of these issues in my article on brown bread vs. white bread.

I spent part of my childhood and early adulthood behind the scenes of bakeries and I can tell you that some of the ingredients we used were terrible and the amount of energy used in creating our products was incredible. We were somewhat ignorant then, but even though bakers are more aware now, many commercial bakeries large and small tend to continue in old habits.

We recently started baking our own bread at home and unlike days of old, home bread making is a lot simpler, faster, resource friendly and less messier thanks to the availability of cheap domestic breadmakers and a wide variety of mixes. It’s so simple; place the pre-mix ingredients into the breadmaker hopper, add water (but avoiding wetting the yeast granules), set the program and that’s about it – the breadmaker does the rest.

A decent breadmaker will cost you around $100, but if you switch totally to baking your own loaves; the average family can recoup that money in a few months through cost savings over store-bought bread. We calculate that making a loaf of bread costs 50% less than buying one – including electricity.

Being small enclosed units, modern breadmakers are quite efficient in terms of electricity consumption. Our unit is rated at 700 watts – far less than a standard oven. After you start the mixing/baking cycle; you never have to open the lid again until the bread is ready – which greatly reduces the potential loss of heat. If you offset your electricity usage or your home is renewable energy powered, it makes your bread even more earth friendly!

There’s also less plastic involved – bags can be reused and there’s less plastic in the bread mix packaging.

Suppliers of bread mixes for home baking seem to be growing increasingly savvy to the fact that many people are making their own bread not only for economic reasons, but also due to health and environmental concerns. Consequently, there’s an amazing range of organic bread mixes now available. I do suggest you start out with a pre-mix while familiarizing yourself with home bread making; but after a while you may choose to select all the ingredients separately based on your tastes and concerns. It’s a fantastic aspect of baking your own bread – the opportunity to be creative.

One of the other great advantages of baking your own bread using pre-mixes is the shelf life of the mix; it will keep for months. By stocking up on mix, you’ll never run out of bread again! Fewer trips to the supermarket equals less fuel used or you can save electricity by not needing to freeze a supply of store bought bread.

Just to dispel a myth – even though many home bread mixes don’t have all the nasties such as artificial preservatives or extra fat to help keep them soft and “fresh”, the loaves do keep quite well. We find the bread we bake is still tastes fresh a couple of days after it’s been baked; but it rarely lasts that long :).

How to stop bread from sticking in breadmaker pan

Bread sticking to the pan in a breadmaker is a common problem; one that we began experiencing ourselves recently; particularly on the mixer blade. It doesn’t matter whether your pan is teflon coated (brr) – it will likely happen in your bread maker over time also. We tried oiling the pan prior placing ingredients in – it was messy and didn’t work.

We were  debating whether to get rid of our bread making machine and buy a new one. That didn’t sit well with us from an economical or environmental standpoint.

The solution that worked beautifully for us was a spoonful or two of extra light olive oil in with the mix. The amount of oil you’ll need to prevent your bread from sticking will vary as it depends on the type of bread you’re making. Start off with a single dessert spoon and up it from there if need be. The extra oil has the added side effect of helping to keep the bread fresher for longer!

There’s nothing quite like the aroma of baking bread, nor the satisfaction of making your own loaves – it puts you a little more in touch with times gone past when life was simpler. I highly recommend giving it a whirl!