Bread-Baking Kitchen Hacks to Save Money Plus the Easiest Scone Recipe


Catalogs of all sorts regularly fill my mailbox. Prices in the kitchen catalogs are particularly shocking to me. Surely only millionaires with humongous kitchens can buy all these gadgets. The rest of us have budgets and struggle for cabinet space.

Dough proofer. First on my really shocked list is an electric bread dough proofer for $170.00. I think they do use one on The Great British Baking Show, but they’re always time constrained on that show. All the many bread books I have suggest a long, cool rise for best flavor and texture. I use a plastic underbed box, 28-quart, under $10 at most stores. Three of them fit easily on my dining table. Each tub fits over three loaves of rising bread or pans of rolls. If it’s really cold in the house or I’m in a hurry, I just fill a couple jars with hottest tap water and stick them under the tub for extra warmth and humidity. Gosh, I just saved $160. When baking day is done, I nest the boxes and shove them in a closet.

For the first rise, a stack of tubs that once held penny candy or bubblegum on a convenience store counter work perfectly. These tubs are the perfect size to rise to double or more a dough from 6 or 7 cups of flour, which makes two big loaves. Just ask nicely next time you see a tub full of gum somewhere, take it home, wash thoroughly with a bit of bleach and leave it open to air out a few days. Wash again, stack and store. My stack of six tubs is 25 years old and still holding. I suppose you could buy a full tub at Sam’s or somewhere, give the gum out for Halloween, and still save a huge amount over the same sized container for over $10. You will have saved $10, but I have six and usually at least two in use.  Is that $60 saved?  Or only $20?

Bread machines. Speaking of machines, if you’re thinking about a bread machine, before you invest in a Zojirushi for over $300, consider a less expensive machine to make sure you will make good use of it and to also determine whether you actually want a more expensive machine. I often bake small loaves, rolls, and flatbreads in my toaster oven and, for a full-sized sandwich loaf, am more than happy with a Cuisinart Convection Bread Machine. I’ve had mine over 10 years and it’s still available in several stores for $99, (often with free shipping).

Loaf pans for bread are priced in some catalogs at around $15. I confide that I bought eight identical loaf pans at the Dollar Store for $1.00 each back in 1999 and these pans, all seasoned now, are still in use and bake beautiful, evenly browned crust. I give them a quick squirt with oil spray and the loaves drop out when they’re done. My tubs and loaf pans look a little grungy now, 20 years in hard use, but they work perfectly.

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