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I wish to calculate how economic a breadmaker is compared to store bought bread. Does anyone know how many kilos of bread can be made from one kilogram of flour?

To make it simple, let's say generic white bread and basic simple white bread.

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I don't think this is answerable... the final weight of the bread will likely vary vastly dependent on what other ingredients are included and how it's prepared. – Catija Jan 20 at 21:52
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@Catija I think the range is well defined. You can't get much below 50% hydration, nor much above 100%. And you can't enrich infinitely either. Also, an answer concering only lean breads will already be interesting. I would answer it if I had any idea how much moisture is lost in baking. – rumtscho Jan 20 at 21:58
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This is the wrong comparison. You can produce bread without breadmaker. The economic value of the breadmaker is determined by the time it saves you in comparison of baking without breadmaker. – Lars Friedrich Jan 21 at 11:56
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@LarsFriedrich if the OP already knows that they will never care to make bread by hand, and is only interested in the two scenarios "buy bread" and "use breadmaker", then there is nothing wrong with the comparison. – rumtscho Jan 21 at 12:37
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@LarsFriedrich: if you're comparing time saved in using a breadmaker vs. the time it takes to go to the store and buy a loaf, the breadmaker will surely lose. Remember, in this scenario, "knead and bake by hand" is not an option. – Marti Jan 22 at 20:17
up vote 17 down vote accepted

In my experience, it doesn't really save money, but it's still worth it because it's fresh and better than store-bought at the same price.

For me, 1kg of all purpose flour yields 1.6kg of bread (as two loaves). Each 13x4x4" (Pullman) loaf weighs about 800 grams after cooling and yields between 24-30 slices depending on thickness. The cost per loaf is under $1.00, and includes all ingredients, tax, and electric for mixing/baking/slicing.

I've made a few hundred loaves based on variations of this formula:

                      %  grams   cost  cals fat protein sugar sodium
all purpose flour    100  500   0.417  1833   0      50    17      0
    instant yeast    0.8    4   0.067    16   0       0     0      3
  nonfat dry milk      4   20   0.203    70   0       7    10    109
       canola oil     10   50   0.072   429  50       0     0      0
            sugar      4   20   0.019    75   0       0    20      0
             salt      2   10   0.006     0   0       0     0   3933
            water     56  280   0.000     0   0       0     0      0
      dough total  176.8  884  $0.783  2422  50      57    47   4045
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Out of curiosity, did you account for the cost of buying the machine in your cost per loaf @Spiff? If you figure 300 loaves out of your machine what would that do to the cost per loaf? In any case I agree with you that you do it because of the flavor, not any cost savings. – GdD Jan 21 at 9:56
    
To be clear, I no longer use a bread machine. My answer focused more on how much bread can be made with 1kg flour. The Pullman loaf pan was $25, and the electric knife was $20. So for 300 loaves, that adds 15 cents per loaf. The mixer and oven are used for other things besides bread, so I don't really consider them in the overall cost per loaf. – Spiff Jan 21 at 17:11

It would depend greatly on the recipe used. However, for example, this recipe from Jamie Oliver for "Basic Bread" yields 1 loaf of bread and utilizes 1kg of flour. Additionally if you are comparing for economic reasons, you'd also need to take into account the cost for yeast, salt and any enrichments (egg, sugar, etc as specified by recipe).

The average loaf of store bought bread weighs either 16oz or 24oz here in the US which would be 453.6g or 680.4g respectively. I know that until 2008 bread in the UK was required by law to be sold in specified units so they were commonly sold in 400g and 800g sizes. Most of my bread books specify that on average bread dough loses 10-20% of weight during baking/cooling.

So some "back of napkin" math gives us

1kg flour = 1000g

625ml H20 = 625g

21-30g yeast = 25g (average)

2 tbsp sugar = 30g

1 tbsp salt = 15g

Total dough weight = 1695g

1695 - 169.5 = 1525.5g (10% loss during cooking)

1695 -339 = 1356g (20% loss during cooking)

(1525.5 + 1356)/2 = 1440.75g average cooked weight.

So we can estimate that the average weight of a cooked loaf of bread from this recipe would be 1.44kg.

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3  
Where do you get the 10 and 20% loss numbers? Is there a reason it wouldn't be 50%? I feel my high-hydration ciabatta is significantly lighter after baking than before... but that may just be in my head. – Catija Jan 20 at 23:14
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@Catija : the majority of the weight loss would be from the liquids evaporating. 50% would get into the flour being used. But 20% loss cited above would be roughly 50% of the water. – Joe Jan 21 at 0:17
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In the bakery I used to work at that was the expected range of yield loss. I've read some other books that also state that range. Often, higher hydration loaves (like ciabatta) actually experience higher yield loss because evaporation can be a large part of the loss. Here's another interesting article that discusses how the cultivar of wheat used can change the percentage as well aaccnet.org/publications/cc/backissues/1992/documents/… – djmadscribbler Jan 21 at 0:19

flour/water : 100:50 - 100:65 as you like the dough -> 1kg flour : 1,5kg -1,65kg dough.

You have 10% loss of weight by backing.

Thats all.

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Basic bread requires flour, water, salt and yeast (nothing more).
The salt and yeast contribution to the weight is negligible. Water, in my experience, shall be - before cooking - about 70% in weight with respect to flour; the actual quantity depends mainly on the kind of flour, but 70% is a reasonable average estimate.
Loss of total weight during cooking is due to water evaporation and can be estimated between 10% and 20%; the bread will anyway continue to loose water even after it reaches room temperature, but this is slow.

In conclusion I would say, for example:
1 kg of flour + 0.7 kg of water (I use kg, I am Italian) => 1.7 kg dough
1.7 - 1.7*15% kg => 1.445 kg
In Italy flour can be found for sale at less than 0.50 €/kg, yeast (for 1 kg of flour) 0.15 €, water, salt, electric power: negligible cost;
Total 0.65 €/1.445 kg = 0.45 €/kg = 0.45 €/kg;
In comparison 1 kg of bought basic bread is around 2.5 to 4 €/kg.
If you do not take into account oven, etc and the work needed, in Italy it is very convenient to make it by yourself!

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Here in the UK, I can use 1/3rd of a 1.5kg bag of strong white bread flour (95p/3=32p) and 1 sachet of dried yeast at 11p to make a loaf for 43p, and that gives me a loaf equivalent to this 800g supermarket sandwich loaf at £1.00. Tastes better, too.

So that's better than double, in my experience.

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In case the link rots -- the bags are 1.5kg, so 500g flour => 800g loaf. – Joe Jan 25 at 12:39
    
@Joe good point. Updated answer to include the pertinent details. – Steve Cooper Jan 25 at 12:40
    
Wow you have cheap ingredients. Our bread flour (northeastern USA) costs at least £1.83 for a 2.25-kilo bag, and yeast minimum 30p per sachet. We still save money though. :-) – Matt Gutting Feb 2 at 16:12
    
Our fancy Canadian bread flour is more expensive at £1.10 / kg (sainsburys.co.uk/shop/gb/groceries/bread-flour--mixes---yeast/…) but that's an American import, so maybe bagged US flour is higher quality by default? – Steve Cooper Feb 2 at 17:34

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