sourdough.jpgMy family eats a lot of bread. We can usually eat a loaf of store bought bread every two or three days. Since I am spending a lot more time at home now, and we are eating sandwiches for lunch instead of going out to lunch, we are eating even more bread.
We usually buy a variety of sandwich bread and artisan bread. Artisan breads are a bit smaller, alot denser, and a bit more expensive than sandwich bread. At my local grocery, I bought the following recently:

  • One loaf of sandwich bread for $2.89
  • One loaf of sourdough bread for $4.99

In retrospect, this sounds like a good deal of money.

Since I like to cook/bake, i decided to find out how much it would cost to bake artisan bread myself. Today, I am going to look at sourdough bread. This isn’t the simplest bread to make, but it will demonstrate pretty quickly if there are any cost savings.
sourdough_starter.jpg I am not going to give a full rundown on the art and science of sourdough, but I will point you to a few sites that contain tons of great information:

  • The Yankee Gardener – This is the recipe I usually make, just because it has the first sponging step, and you can actually see something happening.
  • Sourdough Home – These guys have a sourdough recipe that taste just like back home (California).
  • Fast Track Sourdough – Read this site for a great primer on sourdough.

If you should get interested in pursuing this further, let me know, and I will make arrangements to get your a starter.

One other thing to mention is that I am pricing this out based on picking up flour from my local bulk food supplier. In the future, I will give you more detail on how these work. Suffice it to day that I bought ten pounds of flour at 55 cents a pound. Here is the price per cup of flour calculation that I will use for all future calculations. Hopefully, the price of flour will not fluctuate enough to render this calculation dated very soon.

  • One cup of flour weighs four ounces, while not exact, this is pretty close.
  • There are 4 cups of flour in a pound of flour.
  • A cup of flour costs about 14 cents. This shall be our hallowed number.
  • If you buy flour in a 50lb sack, you can get it for 36 cents a pound!
IngredientCost
8 cups flour$1.12
Salt0*
Sugar0*
Sourdough Starter14 cents
Total$1.26

*Note that the asterisks denote that these items should be in any well stocked kitchen (more about this in a new article). The costs for these are negligible.

This recipe makes two loaves of bread, so the effective cost of baking bread is about 63 cents a loaf plus a few cents for gas to heat the oven.

So, does baking your own bread pay off? let’s look at the pros and cons:

Pros

  • Eight loaves of home made bread costs as much as 1 loaf of store bought bread.
  • Home made bread tastes much better than store bought bread.
  • Home made bread is much healthier than store bought bread.

Cons

  • Unless you have a dough hook and heavy mixer, it takes alot of work to knead this recipe.
  • To make a loaf of this bread, you will need to plan ahead. Start the recipe the night before, and you will have bread by dinner the next day.
  • You will need to maintain your starter. This takes about ten minutes a week or so, but you have to do it.

So, for me, it turns out that baking my own bread is well worth the cost. Let me know what you decide.