Homemade Crusty Brown Bread Is Better (And Cheaper)!
I have a dilemma: I like to eat healthy but I’m on a budget. We all know how expensive groceries can be, especially if you’re trying to eat well! I have found a couple of ways to save money while eating right by buying both fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, purchasing the store brand rather than the brand name, and buying foods that I use often—like rice and beans—in bulk. I’ve even started buying big bags of dried beans and using them to make my own refritos, hummus, and other low-calorie, highly nutritious spreads and dips.
I also purchase plain low- or nonfat yogurt, then strain it for a few hours with cheesecloth to make Greek-style yogurt. I love the thick, creamy consistency of Greek yogurt; plus, Greek-style yogurt contains double the protein of regular yogurt, so it is an excellent addition to any healthy menu.
Straining my own yogurt presents one problem, however: the process yields several cups of leftover whey. I feel guilty throwing the whey away. After all, I’m trying to save money and avoid wasting food, aren’t I? But what is there to do with all that whey?
Then it hit me: bread. I absolutely love homemade bread; there’s nothing better than a fresh, crusty loaf, hot from the oven, to serve alongside soups, pastas, and salads, or to use in assembling a tasty, healthful sandwich. Replacing the water in a homemade bread recipe with whey gives the bread added protein and a soft, chewy texture. It's absolutely delicious.
So, I decided to use the leftover whey to make a loaf of homemade bread. This rustic round loaf of crusty brown bread is super healthy and delicious, but best of all—it’s quick, easy, and cheap! In fact, this recipe calls for only five ingredients that you already have in your pantry at home.
Cook Time (Includes Rising, Pre-Heating, and Baking Times)
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
2 hours 30 min
2 hours 50 min
1 round loaf (approximately 12 slices)
What You'll Need
- 2 cups whey*, warmed
- 1 packet dry active yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups whole wheat flour**
How to Make It
- In a large bowl, dissolve 1 tablespoon of sugar into the whey. Add the teaspoon of salt and the packet of yeast. You do not need to wait until the yeast activates; just add the 3 cups of whole wheat flour to this mixture.
- Gently mix your ingredients with a wooden spoon until just combined. The flour will be wet and sticky. Do not knead the dough at this point. Simply cover the bowl with a dampened dishtowel and let the dough rise for about 2 hours.
- When the dough has just about doubled, rearrange the racks in your oven so that one rack is at the very bottom of the oven, and the other is in the center. Then pre-heat the oven to 450°F. Place a pizza stone on the center rack (if you don’t have a pizza stone, you can use a baking pan or cookie sheet). Allow the stone to heat up while the oven is pre-heating; I like to give the stone an extra 15 to 20 minutes in the oven so that it can get nice and hot.
- Meanwhile, turn your dough onto a well-floured surface. Flour your hands and knead the dough into a ball by constantly turning the sides under. Don’t over-knead the dough and don’t worry about making a perfect dough ball. You only need to knead the dough lightly for a minute or two. Place it back in the bowl while your oven and stone are heating up.
- Once your oven is heated, fill a baking pan with 1 cup of water and carefully place it on the bottom rack of your oven. The water will turn into steam which helps your bread retain moisture as it cooks while giving it a crisp, crunchy crust.
- Then, with a sharp knife, make a cross in the center of the top of the dough ball and place the dough on the pizza stone. Bake for about 20 minutes***. Your bread is done when the outside is brown and crusty; if you knock on the top it should sound hollow.
If you want to impart more complex flavors into your bread, consider adding a dash of vanilla, a half-cup of honey, or a teaspoon or two of cinnamon or nutmeg to the dough. You could also make this a savory bread by adding fennel, thyme, basil, or any other herb to the dough. Try lightly brushing the top of the bread with olive oil and sprinkling with Parmesan and rosemary during the last five minutes of baking.
This is an extremely simple recipe that allows you to get creative and tailor the bread to your own tastes!
- You can obtain the 2 cups by straining a 32-ounce container of low-fat plain yogurt. If you do not wish to use whey, you can substitute 2 cups of warm water for the whey.
- You can substitute plain white flour for the whole wheat flour. I like wheat flour because it contains more fiber and protein than white flour; plus, I love the rich, nutty flavor of homemade wheat bread.
- Depending on your oven, cook time will vary. My stove is an electric unit and I find that my cook times are always less than when I was using a gas stove. Check your bread at 20 minutes and if the outside isn’t browned, give it another 5 to 10 minutes.
There you have it: quick, easy homemade bread that’s good for your health and your budget.