On baking from scratch, from mixes, or not at all

When you’re trying to save money, it can be difficult to decide what to make from scratch and what to buy for convenience.  Sometimes it’s a time issue, but sometimes the price difference between products isn’t that big.  Sometimes the price difference is enormous.  Often the big difference is in quality.

If you do plan on doing a lot of baking a stand mixers is an important investment.  A stand mixer is well worth the time (and potentially money) that it saves if you can afford it.  That’s one of those problems with being genuinely poor– where are you going to get $250 or $350 to buy a high quality stand mixer so you can multi-task while making bread?  Without a mixer, where are you going to find the time to bake from scratch on a regular basis?

Some people balk at the cost of yeast when baking bread, but really you only need to buy it once.  If you’re going to be baking bread regularly you can keep a starter in your fridge and use that in place of store-bought yeast.  If you’re not going to be baking all the time, you can still save on yeast using the “old dough” method, which uses old dough to provide yeast for new dough, and the dough can be frozen for quite some time before reuse.  Once you’re down to the price of flour, sugar, and oil, homemade bread is a delicious but inexpensive carb.

Making your own mix when you have time might be an option.  Pancakes are super cheap from scratch.  Yes, it’s convenient to buy a mix and just add liquid, but if you’re really trying to save money, you can mix up a big batch of mix yourself and use it as you need it.  Similarly, you can make up extra waffles or pancakes for your own toaster-waffles (or microwave pancakes) on weekday mornings.

Cakes, on the other hand, are often expensive homemade than store-bought or from a mix because you start using butter, and even with on-sale butter ($2/lb at the holidays), it can start to add up, especially if you want to add things like chocolate or candied fruit.  Of course, the same quality cake will cost tens of dollars from a real bakery.  Supermarket cakes tend to be chiffon (using oil) or shortening.  They’re not as good, but may be less expensive than you making your own (especially when reduced for quick sale after an event).  If you’re really into chiffon cakes, it may be less expensive to make your own mix than to make from a mix, but you’ll have to run the numbers yourself.  Personally I don’t think store-bought cakes or mixes are worth it– if I’m going to eat something bad for me it had better taste really good.  (Store-bought brownies and mixes, otoh, can be pretty tasty.)

Similarly, if you have expensive tastes, then homemade may be worth it because you use higher quality and fresher ingredients than the store.  Granola isn’t peanuts to make depending on what you put in it (the oats are cheap, but nuts can get expensive), but it is so pricy to buy that making it turns out to be a pretty good deal.  Freshly made granola also tastes ambrosial.

The true benefit to making your own baked goods is that you control what the ingredients are.  There’s a lot of crap in a lot of processed foods, even in the pre-made mixes.  There are breads that are cheaper than flour, but I can’t bring myself to eat them.  We still have some wonderbread in our freezer from when FIL was here and he wanted to make french toast with bread (but not whole wheat bread).  (MIL shouldn’t eat it because of her diabetes.)

But often times store-bought is the way to go.  If you can find a sandwich bread you like, store-bought lasts longer and comes perfectly sliced.  Sometimes you only want one cookie and not an entire batch (and what’s the point in going through the effort of making just one cookie?  and you mean to freeze the dough or the cookies for later but…).  The kind of pastry dough you use to make croissants is a multi-hour if not multi-day affair of folding and pounding if you make it from scratch (though buying croissants made without butter is completely not worth it no matter how inexpensive).

Sometimes you don’t have time and it’s worth more to buy the convenience food so you can earn more money, even when we’re not talking about croissants.  However, baking is a good way to spend time with kids– they can help at a pretty early age.  And, once they’re old enough to do it on your own, the time calculus changes.  Obviously they need to make more cookies.

Sometimes there are sales that make store-bought baked goods ridiculously inexpensive.  Check out the day-old bin, and check for holiday-themed mixes and baked items after a holiday for real deals.

When do you bake, when do you buy?  When do you use a mix?

This week’s menu:

Fried rice.  This uses the leftover rice from last week’s stirfry, but if it doesn’t the entire meal costs <$3.

Fried kielbasa with onions and potatoes.  If you want to save money and aren’t worried about your gylcemic load, you can buy a big bag of potatoes.  The trick is that you have to eat them before they go bad.  Because of my PCOS we won’t be doing that– potatoes are a special treat that I need to balance with meat and/or vinegar to slow digestion so I don’t get blood sugar spikes.  But man I do love me some potatoes.  Kielbasa ~$3  Onion ~$1.  Potatoes ~$1

Homemade pizza.  Dough, sauce, cheese.  Bread dough<$1, sauce <$2 (we use canned pizza sauce, but if you want to go cheaper you can just get a small tin of tomato sauce and add salt and any spices you have on hand), cheese… can vary depending on what kind you use and how much you use of it, but let’s go <$2.  DH insisted on more pepperoni (<$2) and some mushrooms (<$1).  Base meal is <$5, more fancy versions will depend on toppings.  One recipe worth tends to have a lot of leftovers.

Black Bean Soup.  Black beans, onions, carrots.  This costs about the same as split pea soup from last time, but I really want to have it with sour cream, so add a bit more.  And we’ve got cilantro in our garden that’s thriving despite (or because of) the recent cold snaps.

Spaghetti.  Can of sauce, noodles.  ~$4.  ($3 if you make the sauce from canned tomatoes and aren’t picky about spices)  If you add meat, another $2-$6.

Wraps.  Wraps are like sandwiches, but with (flour) tortillas instead of bread.  You can put anything in them from sandwich fillings to leftover rice, bean, or noodle dishes.  They’re good on-the-go versions of a meal.   We are going to do fresh spring rolls instead because we still have rice wrappers from last time and DC2 shouldn’t have flour tortillas.  The price on this can vary tremendously depending on what you put inside the cover.   We’ll be doing noodles, lettuce, cilantro, mint (also thriving), and shrimp (DH wanted seafood and shrimp are in season), so not that cheap.  A less expensive spring roll option would use chicken or maybe tofu depending on tofu prices.

Sweet and sour red cabbage.  We might do this with the kielbasa instead of potatoes and onions, I dunno.  <$1 for the cabbage (and there’s usually leftover).

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46 Responses to “On baking from scratch, from mixes, or not at all”

  1. eemusings Says:

    Baking is super expensive (butter here is about twice the price of yours, as is milk, maybe three times even, and goodies like blueberries, cream cheese also cost a bomb). Our current place doesn’t have an oven though and we haven’t bought a countertop bench oven, so baking is off the agenda at the moment. Have kinda gone off sugar since we visited the US.

    Bread is SO good fresh but just not worth making, and I’ve never had yeast work for me.

    Granola is something I wanna make when we do get an oven!

  2. Debbie M Says:

    When I first saw your title, “On baking from scratch, from mixes, or not at all,” I thought, “yum, yum, aw.”

    I disagree about the stand mixer. I mostly use a fork or hand beaters these days. Admittedly I don’t make yeast bread. But my mom does, and she did so without a stand mixer for decades. Admittedly she has one now. They take up so much space! Admittedly, the Kitchenaid is pretty.

    I use the recipe for depression cake (aka war cake)–and that uses oil instead of butter (and also no eggs), so it’s pretty cheap, too. It’s also the first cake I made that was actually soft and easy to cut. It probably tastes more like box mix cake than butter cake does, though.

    I bake all the stuff that uses baking soda or baking powder (or eggs) rather than yeast to rise. This way I get to use whole wheat pastry flour and shade-grown cocoa/chocolate chips. And I minimize the fat, sugar, and salt as much as I can and still have it taste good to me. Also, I talk myself out of buying desserts at the store because I should just make them myself.

    I still don’t have a good granola recipe. I’m probably going to have to stick more butter in it.

    I buy yeast breads pre-made. I don’t think I use mixes for baking anymore.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      That is called a chiffon, I believe.

      After much experimentation, dh and I believe the secret to good granola is salt, and maybe sugar.

      • Debbie M Says:

        Interesting. I found the same thing with oatmeal–I just don’t love it unless it has salt in it.

      • Debbie M Says:

        P.S. I looked up chiffon cakes. Yea! Learning! Those rely partially on whipping the egg whites into a foam to raise the cake. My recipe doesn’t involve eggs. But yes, it’s some other kind of cake than the regular butter cakes.

    • Liz Says:

      My favorite homemade cake is a chocolate vinegar cake, which doesn’t use butter, eggs, or oil – I guess it’s technically vegan. So chocolate! Much nom!

      • Leah Says:

        I love that! It is vegan (if you use vegan ingredients . . . ). I use lemon juice in place of vinegar because I find the vinegar leaves a little aftertaste. I find that cake recipe to be supremely flexible — I’ve added cinnamon, strawberries, cherries, and all sorts of other stuff to change the flavor profile. All I do is make sure I’m accounting for the liquid and look for consistency, and the cake turns out well.

  3. Liz Says:

    I bake about half from scratch. It’s just me, so it all depends on my mood (luckily not my pocket-book). I like homemade SO much better than store-bought. However, my area is big on the “local,” so there are a number of quality, organic or do-gooder type companies that provide products I want without me having to gather all the ingredients, time, and effort simultaneously because I want *one* chocolate chip cookie.

    The only mix I really buy is Ghiradelli brownies, but I actually prefer my homemade kind (a King Arthur Flour recipe) because they taste fresher and I control all the ingredients.

    Regarding stand mixers, I actually gave mine away on Freecycle (with the ice cream mixer attachment!) because I found it was more trouble than it was worth, even when making breads from scratch, baked goods, etc. It took up too much space, mostly, and it was heavy. The only tool I would recommend for bread-bakers is some kind of proofing container, so the dough doesn’t crust onto the bowl and you can tell quickly if the dough has doubled. I have one like this: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/dough-rising-bucket

    Bonus: when not in use for bread-making, the bucket makes excellent storage for large-batch soups. Now if only I could eat 12 servings of soup in a row…. *shrug* Rich people problems.

  4. Perpetua Says:

    I used to do a lot of baking by hand, even bread. I love using my hands. But then my husband bought me a stand mixer and I bake 10x more often because it so much easier. I did two giant batches of dough this weekend in about 15 minutes. I’ve been making one huge batch and leaving it in the fridge for up to two weeks. I can pull off the little bits I need at a time, which means I don’t have to worry about rising, etc, on a work night. The other thing I’ve been making from scratch and loving are flour tortillas.

    I often think how little money I save by baking from scratch! My ingredients are very expensive, but that’s part of the reason I like to bake -I want to know exactly what’s in my food. (I never use mixes for anything.) And I enjoy being able to add a little bit of wheat germ, or less sugar, etc. But my dinners tend to be super cheap, along the lines of what you’ve given, though we eat a lot more legumes – at least one night of beans and rice (so cheap esp if you buy in bulk) and one of lentils and something. We don’t buy meat, so that saves a lot of money (because on the rare occasions we do buy, it we buy the super expensive stuff. We used to eat more meat when we had access to a great farmers market with wonderful local meat).

  5. gwinne Says:

    Interesting question. I started baking from scratch largely because of allergies. Now it depends on a whole host of variables, though cost is not one of them.

    1. I buy bread. Attempts to work with yeast have been terrible so I don’t do it anymore.
    2. I make mini muffins, waffles, pancakes for the freezer. These are all dairy free. Some may be gluten free, depending on whether I want to eat them.
    3. My big kid really likes the idea of store bought goodies (she never had them when she was little due to allergies). So brownie mixes and [crappy] store-bought cakes for her special events.
    4. If the little one needs something for school, I bake it so all kids can have it (no eggs, no dairy, no soy, no nuts, though no one has wheat-allergy, thank goodness).

  6. Linda Says:

    I have a bread machine and will use that to make bread. I used to use it all the time and only eat bread made at home, but that stopped a couple years ago. I don’t eat bread much and while my partner has been eating a lot of sandwiches he’d rather go with the convenience of store-bought and pre-sliced bread. Plus the texture is different. Maybe it’s the dough conditioners or whatever, but even whole grain bread is softer when store-bought. I’ve research a bit on how to make softer bread at home, but never tried it myself.

    Since we don’t really eat cake very much, the only thing I make at home on a semi-regular basis are muffins. I find homemade muffins MUCH better than any store bought ones. I can make them with less sugar and less oil, because I really don’t enjoy greasy, sweet muffins myself.

    I made up a pretty good meal last night with some leftover brown rice, veggies, and fresh cod. I shredded a couple carrots, grated and chopped some fresh ginger, and mixed that into the brown rice with a bit of S&P, some veg oil, and some sesame oil. Then I added some fresh spinach, place it in an oiled oblong casserole. I laid the fresh cod fillets on top and doctored them with more fresh, chopped ginger, S&P, and a drizzle of sesame oil. Then I baked it at 350. It was delicious, although if I do this again I’ll pre-cook the veggies a bit and may cover it with foil to steam the fish a a bit more. I imagine this could be done with thawed frozen veggies pretty easily, too.

    Another quick casserole with seafood is a fish pie. Most of the recipes call for mashed potatoes on top, but you could do a cauliflower mash instead. Use some frozen fish fillets if you can’t find any bargain fresh fish. The cod I used in last night’s recipe was on sale, so I bought a couple pounds and froze some for later.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      That reminds me of from scratch pie dough– makes awesome pot-pies (including salmon pie).

      We used to have a bread machine, but gave it away after we got the stand mixer. It had a depressing same-ness no matter what ingredients we put in.

      • delagar Says:

        I would LOVE your salmon pie recipe, N&M.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        If the baby weren’t on my lap sick, I’d dig it up for you. Basically it’s a salmon quiche if I’m recalling correctly. The old fashioned cookbook has a lot of good meat pie recipes. Nom.

        1 1lb can salmon
        1 cup soft bread crumbs
        3 eggs, beaten slightly
        1 cup diced celery
        1/4 cup chopped onion
        2 tablespoons butter
        2 tablespoons chopped parsley
        1 tablespoon lemon juice
        3/4 teaspoon salt
        unbaked pie shell

        drain salmon, reserve liquid, bone skin and flake. Add milk to salmon liquid to measure 1 cup. Combine with bread crumbs and eggs and set aside. Saute celery and onion in butter until celery is tender. Add cooked veggies, salmon, parsley, lemon juice, and salt to egg mixture blending thoroughly. Pour into prepared pastry shell and bake in hot oven (400F) for 25-30 min or until crust is done and mixture set. (I think we often end up having to turn the oven lower and letting it go longer at this point, but I don’t remember for sure). Let stand for 8 to 10 min before cutting into wedges.

  7. plantingourpennies Says:

    I’ve been erring much more on the bake side of the ledger these days, trying to complete remove boxed mixes from our lives mostly in an effort to know what’s in the food that goes into our bodies.

    Recent baking expeditions from scratch
    – Angel food cake
    – Poppy seed lemon tube cake (dense like a pound cake)
    – No knead fruit and nut bread
    – Corn muffins
    – Banana bread
    – Banana pound cake
    – Dark chocolate brownies

    Cost-wise, most of these are fairly cost effective in that a similar product from a mix or purchased from the bakery wouldn’t cost more than my own costs… the exception being the poppy seed cake that had $4.50 worth of poppy seeds in it. (Anyone know where you can buy larger packages of poppy seeds?)

    The only “problem” is that even when the fruit and nut bread is cost effective when you compare it to the similar stuff in the Publix bakery (I pay about $3-4 per loaf depending what’s in it, compared to $5 for a loaf about half the size with far fewer nuts and fruits in it), but Mr PoP wants it a heck of a lot more often, so we can still easily spend $8/week on this bread and the time to make it…

    As for mixers, I’m on Debbie M’s side – all I’ve got is a decent quality handheld electric mixer and it (and my biceps) work well enough that I haven’t really felt impeded. (Though the 8 minutes of mixing using the hand electric mixer for the angel food cake was a little boring…) Maybe when we redo our kitchen and have more counter space I’ll try and find a deal on a stand mixer. And if I keep baking bread at this rate I might consider a ceramic bread container for the oven or a stone – so far I’ve just been using glass pans and it’s been fine, but I need to put an air-filled baking sheet under it so it doesn’t burn.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I used to make poppy seed cake from scratch all the time by hand! Quick breads (and muffins) are pretty easy to make without a mixer, especially if they’re oil-based instead of butter-based.

      For kneaded yeast breads and things involving egg whites (your angel food cake) and things involving cold butter (cakes, pie dough), the stand mixer is a huge time saver. Why buy pizza dough when it takes hardly any effort to make it? (Though still more time and effort than ordering a pizza.)

      Poppy seeds: ethnic groceries– we used to get ours at Middle Eastern and Eastern European shops. There’s probably other ethnic groceries that also have them. Failing that, Penzey’s or Amazon.

    • chacha1 Says:

      I had a good hand mixer for a long time that finally died. Its replacement was a piece of crap and ever since then I’ve been mixing by hand. Pretty good upper-arm workout. :-)

  8. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    I only cook; never bake. PhysioWife is our family baker, and she makes everything from scratch, and it all tastes fucken awesome!

    BTW, I was not aware that vinegar reduces the rate of absorption of carbohydrates. Hooray for german potato salad!

  9. Cloud Says:

    If I bake, I bake entirely from scratch. The only exception is that I need puff pastry to top my NZ meat pies, and I can’t be bothered making that from scratch. It is a whole lot of work for not much return. I do the pie crust from scratch, though.

    My younger daughter likes to help me bake, and she is now at the point where she is actually helpful (she is 4). My older daughter isn’t so into it, although she likes to help out a bit at Christmas cookie time.

    I used to bake more, because I enjoy it. But I’m more squeezed for time these days and don’t need the temptation of cookies around the house, so I mainly bake for special occasions these days. The only exception is my pumpkin-parmesan scones, which are in regular rotation for weeknight dinners (along with soup).

  10. chacha1 Says:

    I would totally do sweet-and-sour red cabbage with kielbasa, instead of the potato thing. Yummy.

    When do I bake? Oh so rarely. Bread is not happening chez nous. Between the bad countertop and the bad oven and the general disinclination to put that much work into something we are trying to eat *less* of … no.

    Cakes: a few times a year I make a Bundt cake. I like it better than a store-bought cake even though I invariably start with a mix, and it’s probably cheaper even though I add nuts and cocoa and spices and rum. The only cake I will actually buy is angel food, and because the egg whites do not make up for the amount of sugar, this is extremely uncommon.

    Brownies: a few times a year I make brownies. These are also always better than store-bought (why are store-bought brownies either just fudgy chocolate cake with icing, or dry & hard?), always start with a mix, and are definitely cheaper than getting one at a time from, e.g. Starbucks.

    On special occasions I make a fruit pie. Always tastier than store-bought, though mine typically have no structural integrity due to the fact that I do not use flour or cornstarch in the filling. I cheat on these with packaged crusts, too. We care more about the filling.

    Once I made a pavlova. It was utterly heavenly and I am waiting for the right occasion to do it again. That’s something you CANNOT buy in a store! The closest thing I’ve ever seen is a lemon meringue tart from Michel Richard here in L.A.

  11. omdg Says:

    You need to eat more vegetables.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      ??

      There are vegetables with every meal. And fruit etc. for snacks.

      • omdg Says:

        Really? You must be counting the tomato sauce and onions.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        The spaghetti last night also had broccoli, artichoke hearts, and other stuff in it, but yes, tomato sauce and onions are vegetable. And we have fruit etc. at other meals. All we had tonight was vegetable. And the Harvard Medical School says what’s important is that you average well across a week, not at any one specific meal, and fruits are just as good as veggies. Not to mention, my kids eat fruits and vegetables instead of just picking them out (except raw tomatoes, which DC1 hates with a violent passion).

        You need to eat more vegetables. Just sayin’. Because if you can extrapolate how well we eat based on a one-meal-a-day posting during a month challenge of cheap eating that has no information on proportions, I figure I can extrapolate how well you do based on nothing more than you being judgmental.

      • omdg Says:

        Geez, defensive much?

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Geez, bitchy much?

        Just replying in-kind.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Note: This type of school-yard level exchange is one of the many good reasons that I am no longer on mommy forums.

  12. Rented life Says:

    Brownies we use store mix, but that’s 1) because I’m lazy and 2) I keep forgetting to ask my mom for her recipe. We don’t have them often and it’s not cheaper because we add peanut butter chips. Cakes, which are rare since we prefer other desserts to cake, are box mix. (Usually only make carrot cake).

    I won’t eat store bought cookies so those are from scratch. Bread is usually from the bakery and not an often purchase. Pizza crust is mix from Amish store. We largely prefer quality/taste over anything else when it comes to food.

  13. First Gen American Says:

    The only thing I find mixes are good for are cakes. If I bake, it’s all from scratch. I did go through a bread baking phase when I traveled less, but my schedule doesn’t allow me to babysit my sourdough starter like I used to. It was some of the best bread I’ve eaten though. Now it’s only on holidays where I do the bread from scratch. I’d like to start doing sunday dinners again once my mom comes to live with us. The pizza dough I buy is similar to scratch dough and doesn’t have any unneeded preservatives, so I’m fine getting the store bought stuff.

    Baking is holiday fare for the most part. Otherwise I’d be as big as a house.

  14. Leigh Says:

    I do both. I make muffins from mixes to save time sometimes and I keep a stash in the house to make that easy. I only make brownies from scratch, same with cakes. They’re pretty easy actually. I’ve started making some cookie dough on a weekend day and then making cookies fresh as we run out, which is really nice. I love the trader Joe’s pizza dough and it is only a dollar!

  15. Contingent Cassandra Says:

    The only cake for which a mix makes sense to me is angel food cake — unless you want a really big custard, too, to use up all those egg yolks. This is a two-generation tradition in my family. Otherwise, I go with scratch, mostly on the theory that foods that feature lots of sugar, saturated fat, etc., ought to also be of the highest quality possible.

  16. Foscavista Says:

    DH is more of the baker (e.g. breads), but I make the breakfast muffins. As you stated above, I like mixing the dry ingredients the day before, so it’s ready for the wet ingredients the morning of.

    If we can, we prefer from scratch so it has the least amount of extras as possible. As a rule, we try to shop the least amount we can in the aisles of the supermarket and spend more time in the outskirts (i.e. produce, fish, meat, dairy).

  17. zenmoo Says:

    I make no-knead bread, which is super easy – just 4 ingredients (flour, yeast, salt & water) and no kneading. You do need to be organised, as it needs 12-18 hours to rise – but you need to be organised for any bread. It’s pretty good stuff.

  18. Rosa Says:

    My biggie for “baking” is waffles – I make whole wheat, high protein waffles and keep them in the freezer for breakfast from the toaster. They are as cheap and fast as storebought toaster waffles but way way healthier.

    I make a lot of “cakes” (really just quickbreads in cake format, but my family doesn’t care), largely to hide vegetables in. So much shredded zucchini, canned pumpkin, and mashed leftover sweet potato in the baked goods around here. I also make a lot of “healthy” cookies for school lunches, because kiddo will not eat much for lunch and he starts with dessert. So oatmeal-craisin-walnut-coconut chocolate drops & similar low-effort cookies most weeks.

    I make homemade cornbread when I have time because I don’t like sweet cornbread, but my family prefers Jiffy Mix and it is a lot cheaper and faster.

    Homemade whole wheat pizza dough is always worth it, just because frozen pizzas have gotten ridiculously expensive. We make pizza once a week, usually, and the four-ingredient dough (flour, salt, yeast, oil) is super cheap. Plus today I used excess dough to make fancy garlic olive loaf. It doesn’t save any money because we’ll eat it all tomorrow for lunch, though, and the olives were expensive.

    Every once in a while I make pie crust but in general we just skip it – frittata instead of quiche, custard instead of pumpkin pie. Because I’m lazy and cheap at the same time.

    Only the pizza dough/bread is really time intensive, most of it rising/kneading, but they are all planning intensive. Most of the quickbread cakes take about 5 minutes to mix together, 45 to bake, so if I start one and then make dinner while it cooks it’s very little extra time. I don’t think any of these things saves enough money to make the time worth it if I weren’t in the kitchen already. If I were actually money or time pinched, kiddo would eat school lunch and I wouldn’t bake.

  19. Donna Freedman Says:

    DF and I have been making our own bread, usually in the form of homemade kaiser rolls that we use for sandwiches, eat with soup or slice thinly for toast. No mixer, just a big bowl and a wooden spoon.
    I also make a simple recipe called Soft Oat Rolls; slightly sweet and they rise only once, on the pan on which you bake them. My nephews love these with sausage patties.
    Cornbread fairly often, biscuits on occasion, sometimes a loaf of rye or wheat bread.
    Cookies are easy to make, even without a mixer. Pies, ditto. I sometimes do cakes but not often.
    We buy flour 50 pounds at a time and a big bag of yeast (a couple of pounds) that cost less than a small jar of the stuff at the supermarket. Bread is expensive here in Alaska; I don’t know if we save money baking it ourselves, but the result is delicious and the house smells WONDERFUL. Personally, I find kneading very meditative and soothing.
    Here’s a cake recipe a friend just gave me — so easy that my 7-year-old nephew made it by himself:
    Beat 2 eggs
    Add 2 cups flour, 2 cups sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt, 2 tsp. baking soda (not powder) and two 11.5-ounce cans of mandarin oranges (drained).
    Beat with an electric mixer for 4 minutes (make sure you do all 4 minutes). Pour into a greased 13-by-9 pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. While it’s baking, bring 3/4 cup brown sugar, 3 tablespoons milk and 2 tablespoons butter to a boil in a saucepan; pour it over the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven. The result is a cross between a cake and a steamed pudding. Very addictive.
    P.S. I do have a little hand mixer that I got for a buck at a yard sale — I use it for that cake.


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