The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Help me bake some cheap bread for distribution

butteredbun's picture

Help me bake some cheap bread for distribution

Hi !

This is my first post here. I live somewhere in asia.

I have been taking bun-butter from a nearby shop to poor kids. But I have decided to bake my own simple bun or bread so that it may be more nutritious & cheap.

So to start, I have zero experience in any kind of cooking.

Now this is what I am doing :

Mix whole wheat flour, dry yeast (that has been mixed in water and left for 5 mins to dissolve), a sprinkling of sugar and salt. Knead them with milk. Leave for 3 hrs to puff up.

Bake in 180 degrees for 15 mins.

Now I cant add butter or oil so that I can keep it cheap. So whats happening is that buns are becoming hard from outside and are not fully baked from inside.

What is a cheap solution for this? Also, can I add fresh yeast instead of dry yeast as the latter is costing 5 times as much.

Lastly, if I can remove salt and sugar then we will have the ultimate cheap bread.

Just for completion - I am melting malted children's powder drink and spreading inside the buns before distributing.

Thanks for reading.

drogon's picture

You can drop the sugar - its not needed.

You can mix dried and fresh yeast directly into the flour. For fresh yeast just rub it in - handfull of flour from the bowl and rub hem together.

You need the salt, but no more than 1.8% of the total flour weight.

What you'll get is simple bread.

You'll get a better bread if you add a bit more water and autolyze the flour/dough first - mix flour & water together and leave for an hour or 2, then add the yeast & salt, knead.

You'll get a better bread if you do a 2-step rise process - mix/knead then leave to rise, then tip out, shape into rolls/buns then let rise again before baking.

Small breads won't last long anyway - they'll stale and dry quickly due to increased surface aea so there's not much you can do there before resorting to industrial processes. If you want a softer crust after baking, one way is to cover with a towel while they cool when they come out of the oven.

If they're not baked in the middle, then bake longer/hotter. I do rolls for about 12-15 miuntes at 220C...

Possibly better off with a banana inside than some chocolate powder.

Cheap & nutritious often don't go together. You make one thing cheap at the expense of another. Do make sure you're not feeding people something that might make them worse in the long-run...


butteredbun's picture

Thank you Gordon. I will try these and let you know how it turns out.
The top, sides and bottom all become hard while it gets baked. By the time I take them out, its hard enough to be unwanted. This persists even when I have a 50-50 mix of whole wheat flour and flour.
This is an imp thing to be solved. I am pretty sure that baking longer or hotter will make it even more hard. But maybe it needs to be tried for a shorter duration but with higher temp.
I dont know what to do here.

I am putting something much better than a banana. Its malted drink - horlicks is what its called. Its esp made for kids.
Thanks again.

butteredbun's picture

I am kneading with milk. Is that causing the problem? 

drogon's picture

I missed the bit about milk - that'll make the crumb softer - the crust should be soft too - are you sure your oven is not baking too hot? you're making fairly standard milk rolls. Lots of recipes online for that.

Horliks? It's horrible. My grandparents tried to feed it to me... once. although it's supposed to just be malted barley and dried milk, it comes with so much other stuff to make it commercially viable and water soluble. I'm guessing you have the Horlicks chocolate discs where you are. You might as well just add malt extract to the dough. Make banana shaped rolls and fill with a banana.


Danni3ll3's picture

Put a banana in your buns.  Horlicks is a bunch of chemicals. 

HorlicksMalted barley, milk solids, sugar, wheat flour, malted wheat, minerals, protein isolate, emulsifier, salt, acidity regulator, vitamins, natural colorGrain, processed junk, sugar, grain, grain, artificial minerals, processed junk, junk, junk, salt, artificial vitamins, junk

As to your issue, are you letting the buns rise long enough? Bushing the crust before baking with milk might help keep the crusts soft. 

dabrownman's picture

inside is done I just brush them with milk or water when they come out of the oven.  This softens the crust perfectly.  A bit of oi in the dough will make them last a bit longer before they stale too we arenlt talking much oil here - maybe 1% of the flour weight so it isn't that expensive.

Love what you are doing 

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

How are you baking them? Maybe you could put them together in a pan so they are separable when baked, but the sides stay softer. I'm not sure about covering buns while they bake but can you put another pan over the top for about the first 5 minutes then remove it to brown them?

If your schedule allows, you could also try making a pre-ferment - mix some of the flour with water and a tiny bit of yeast, then leave it for 6 - 12 hours until it is very bubbly and well-risen. Then mix it with the rest of your ingredients, adding another tiny bit of dry yeast at this point. Let it all rise till double, then shape into the buns, put them into a pan and let them rise again (about an hour, maybe). Then bake. You will use a lot less yeast this way. Fresh yeast is cheaper but also you need 3-4 times as much of it.

Do you have potatoes there, and are they cheap? Adding a bit of cooked, mashed potato will make them more nutritious and also keep them softer and more moist too.

butteredbun's picture

Experiment no 1 successful !

Thanks to all.

Procedure applied:

Kneaded whole wheat flour with milk, kept for 2 hrs.

Kneaded again a bit with yeast (dry one for now) and salt. Kept for 3 hrs.

Brushed with milk and baked at 210 degrees for 10 mins. Allowed to cool down inside the oven for 15 mins.

Inside is baked. Outside is soft. Sugar is eliminated. Great!

Experiment 2 will need:

Fresh yeast, some flavour for bread (its almost tasteless by itself).

Oil will not be needed as morning bake will be distributed by evening maximum. Hopefully will be consumed by night max.

About cheap - its for sustainability and for feeding more kids. Haven't been earning for a few yrs now. Short of cash always.

About banana - it won't exactly be horlicks but a malt or chocolate based kids powder. Its balanced food - has all of protein, vitamins, minerals etc. Bread will give carbs & milk that extra protein. Doubt if banana is that balanced.

Thanks once again. Suggestions for step 2 welcome.

Will be back for experiment after a day of social demands.

jaywillie's picture

Switching to fresh yeast should have no impact at all on your buns, in terms of flavor or otherwise. Don't expect any flavor impact -- the buns are not going to taste yeast-y unless you use way too much yeast (and you should not do that). So switch to fresh yeast, since it's cheaper for you. You may have to experiment to find out how much to use to replace the dry yeast. There are some Internet resources about such a substitution, so just Google it. 

Both oil and sugar do impact the flavor of bread, as well as its texture, so if you want to change the flavor you may have to reconsider your use of them. But you may have access to other non-traditional "flavorings" that are economical for you -- spices, herbs, fresh or dried fruits, coconut, nuts, etc. For instance, if you can get bananas cheaply, add some to the bread -- it will improve the moisture and flavor! Time for you to do some experimenting!


Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

One thing you should try is to make a little extra dough, and keep a piece of that dough from one day's baking to add to the next day's mix. In other words, use a little day-old dough (unbaked) in your new dough every day. That should not only improve the flavour of your bread for no extra cost, but should also reduce the amount of yeast you need every day.

Isand66's picture

Also, to improve flavor, if possible you can mix the dough and use about 10% less yeast and put in the refrigerator overnight.  This will definitely improve the flavor.  As someone else suggested, a little mashed potato will also soften the dough and add some flavor as well as any other fat/oil.  Adding some onions that have been cooked down and caramelized will also add a ton of flavor.  Garlic is another idea but may be too expensive.

Look forward to hearing about your next bake and I'm sure your audience will appreciate it.


clazar123's picture

Hunger will make anything taste great and I laud you for your efforts to feed kids.

One of the most lacking nutrients in hungry people is vitamin A, which is essential for eyesight. Any time you can add sweet potataoes,yams, squash, carrots or really anything orange to your bread, it would be beneficial. Steam vegetables lightly and mash them and add them to the dough as part of the moisture-water and all. It will also make the rolls a pretty yellow or orange.

Beans still cost but are usually cheap and a great source of protein. Adding beans in some way to the rolls will up the nutritional value, also. Perhaps adding sweetened bean paste as a filling can be a good way to do this. You can use some of the Horlicks for this, perhaps, or whatever sweet fruit is available. Here,fruit vendors are usually happy to get rid of their brown bananas, which would be perfect for this use.

Enlist the food vendors help. Often, people feel good about helping but just don't know how to do it. Ask!. My mother always told me that if you don't ask, the answer is always "NO" but if you ask, sometimes it is "YES".

What part of the world are you in?



estherc's picture

Glad you found a successful method and thank you for caring for the children.

BobBoule's picture

The bread is bland because it is being baked before it has had time to develop any flavor. Look for recipes that use a Preferment (Biga, old dough, mother dough or sourdough starter; they all work just fine). The longer the preferment ages, the more flavor it will bring to your bread. It will also save you on the cost of yeast because the preferment grows enough yeast in it to raise your bread every day. Using a preferment means that you will only need flour, water and salt, so you save on the cost of buying yeast. I would not add anything else to the dough, just focus on making as much bread as you can for the children each day.

butteredbun's picture

Thank you for this. For the second stage I did try banana and it gave both moisture & flavour.

What I did:

1st step - dough + banana

2nd step - yeast + malt powder + salt

Bread is now soft, has more nutrients & flavour.

BUT, now the problem is that this combination tastes strange. A minor strangeness would have been ignorable. But this isnt minor. Its bordering on inedible.

Man this is tough. Who knew that to make a simple bun I would have to experiment for 15 days?

I will have to try flavoured malt powder.

Also I think that whole wheat is not going to work with fruit flavours. Any suggestion besides banana? 

BobBoule's picture

Bread is extremely simple and its extremely hard to make eat the same time. Every time you add an ingredient it changes the moisture, texture, crust and the cook time.


 -Don't use the malt powder (I suspect that it has very little nutrition, and it ruins the flavor so its just a waste of money)

-Don't add the banana until your bread comes out perfect every day and tastes good every time.

-Just make plain rolls until they come out perfect every single day, this is more difficult than it seems. Bread is very technical (all baking is) and it takes time to learn the precise formula, time, temperature and technique to make an acceptable bread.

-Post your recipe so we can check to make sure that everything is in the proper balance.

-Practice with just flour, water, salt and yeast until the bread is close to perfect, then you can start experimenting.


drogon's picture

I actually meant split & fill them with banana. Like a hot dog, but banana...


Isand66's picture

Use potato.  I guarantee you can't go wrong with that and if possible either use a pre-ferment or bulk retard the dough in the refrigerator overnight.