Budget Vegan Tips: Bake Bread

Baking your own bread in a bread machine or by hand is one of the easiest ways to save money as a vegan. Especially because some famous bread companies use animal ingredients (particularly dairy and honey) in most of their breads!

Bread is a staple that has been around for centuries. In the modern day, there are dozens of different flour companies and types to sample and experiment with. I highly recommend trying various bread recipes with different brands of flour to see what you like best. If you can wait until the different brands go on sale or coupon (many stores also have a bulk section and some managers will inform you of the brand stocked there if you ask nicely) you can save quite a bit!

My personal favorite for whole-grain baking (because why waste any of those wonderful b-vitamins, iron, and fiber for a sweeter bread?) is King Arthur Flour. The slightly higher than average protein content in their breads coupled with their excellent cookbook ended up sealing the deal for me.

There are several different kinds of yeast available on the market. Red Star is one of the most famous, followed by Fleischamanns and SAF.These can be particularly useful if you’re short on time or own a bread machine. I typically use quick rise yeast for most applications, though I’ve really been getting into more “traditional style” baking.

If you’re really going for budget, you can start your own culture. By mixing the bread with a little water and salt and proofing it (letting it sit out and turning it/punching it down throughout the day) you will end up with a wonderful sourdough starter. An advantage to this is that in addition to yeast this culture will also contain Lactobacillis to help break down the complex starches and gluten which makes the bread more digestible.

Here are two whole grain recipes to get you started. One uses active dry yeast, the other uses a small amount as a starter and allows you to age a starter culture.

Whole Wheat Agave Bread

  • 1 cup soy or almond milk
  • 2 tbsp agave
  • 1.5 tbsp vegan butter
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1.5 cups whole wheat bread flour (if your supermarket doesn’t stock it, there are suppliers online)
  • 1.5 tsp rapid-rising or active dry yeast (Rapid rising is best reserved for bread machines)
  1. Warm the milk until it reaches lukewarm (between 105 and 115 degrees F) temperatures, then transfer to a warmed bowl. Stir in the yeast and agave, let proof for around 5 minutes or until bubbly.
  2. Stir in the butter, whole wheat flour, salt, and half the bread flour. Beat until a dough forms. Let rest for 15 minutes.
  3. Slowly add the remaining flour and beat until a smooth dough forms. It’ll probably be pretty sticky, so make sure to keep flour nearby to flour your fingers with!
  4. Turn out onto a lightly floured cutting board and knead for around 5 minutes, until it’s smooth and springy. If you poke it, it should go most of the way back to its original shape within a few seconds.
  5. Wash the bowl and lightly grease it with oil or cooking spray. I like to brush mine with a little olive oil to add a nice flavor compliment. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it to grease the top, you want the dough to have a light coating of oil so it doesn’t stick, but not so much that it’s greasy. Cover it with a lid or plastic wrap and let it rise for an hour.
  6. Lightly grease a 5″x9″ loaf pan. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
  7. Punch it down and shape into a round or oblong loaf. Place the loaf with the smooth side down into the pan. Cover again with greased plastic wrap and let rise for another 30-60 minutes, or however long it takes to roughly double. I like preheating my oven at this stage (375 Degrees F) and setting the pan on the burner it exhausts into (without turning on the burner of course) to warm the pan and help it rise. This works really well in the winter where warm bread can be a godsend but the prevailing temperatures aren’t being cooperative!
  8. Once the oven is preheated and the dough risen, pop that sucker into the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until it’s golden brown. You know it’s done when a skewer comes out clean from the middle.
  9. Turn it out onto a wire rack and let it cool for at least 20 minutes before you cut it. You can brush the outsides with more oil or vegan butter if you like, this will soften the crust for those of you who don’t like crusty bread. I know it’s gonna be tempting to cut into it right away, but all that moisture stays intact if you wait. The smell alone makes it worth it!

Note: This recipe works just fine in most bread makers, it counts as the “medium” setting and the “regular” or “medium weight” loaf setting.

Sourdough Starter

  • 1 cup lukewarm water (105-115 degrees F)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/8 tsp active dry yeast.
  1. In a large non-metal bowl or the crock of a slow cooker (if you have one with a lid, go for that one! Glass works best) combine all ingredients.
  2. Cover and let stand for 24-36 hours, or until it gets bubble and has a delicious sweet and sour smell. You can store it in your fridge.
  3. This is your own little baby yeast and Lactobacillis colony. You’ll want to feed it at least once a week and after every use with a mix of half warm water, half flour, and let it repopulate for an hour or two or until it’s bubbly again. Make sure it’s covered in your fridge!

Wheat Sourdough Bread (or French Bread If You Want it!)

  • .5 cup water
  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat bread flour
  • 1.5 tsp dry yeast

 

  1. Set out the sourdough starter for a while and bring to room temperature.
  2. Warm the water until it reaches a lukewarm (between 105 and 115 degrees F) temperature, then transfer to a warmed bowl. Add the sourdough starter and the yeast. Let sit around for 5 minutes, or until it’s really bubbly.
  3. Stir in the salt, whole wheat flour, and half the bread flour. Beat until a dough forms. Let rest for 15 minutes.
  4. Slowly add the remaining flour and beat until a smooth dough forms. It’ll probably be pretty sticky, so make sure to keep flour nearby to flour your fingers with!
  5. Turn out onto a lightly floured cutting board and knead for around 5 minutes, until it’s smooth and springy. If you poke it, it should go most of the way back to its original shape within a few seconds.
  6. Wash the bowl and lightly grease it with oil or cooking spray. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it to grease the top, you want the dough to have a light coating of oil so it doesn’t stick, but not so much that it’s greasy. Cover it with a lid or plastic wrap and let it rise for an hour.
  7. Lightly grease a 5″x9″ loaf pan, or a baking tile/baking sheet. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
  8. Punch it down and shape into a round or oblong loaf. Place the loaf with the smooth side down into the pan or on the sheet. Cover again with greased plastic wrap and let rise for another 1.5-2 hours, or however long it takes to roughly double. I like preheating my oven at this stage (375 Degrees F) and setting the pan (or cookie sheet) on the burner it exhausts into (without turning on the burner of course) to warm the pan and help it rise. This works really well in the winter where warm bread can be a godsend but the prevailing temperatures aren’t being cooperative!
  9. Once the oven is preheated and the dough risen, slash three times on the top of the loaf with a sharp knife, brush or spritz it with a bit of water, and pop that sucker into the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until it’s golden brown. You know it’s done when a skewer comes out clean from the middle.
  10. Turn it out onto a wire rack and let it cool for at least 20 minutes before you cut it. This loaf has been slow-risen with a multi-culture and should make you salivate when you bite into it, further aiding digestion.

Enjoy your baking adventures!

 

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