The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

the business case of artisan break baking

Jw's picture

the business case of artisan break baking

Hi there!

On purpose I put this in the 'off topic' section, because I think readers/members don't really care about this issue. Still, today I wanted to purchase some wallnuts and other bread ingredients, and found them way too expensive. Normally I get these ingredients from relevatives/friends. With these prices, homemade bread would become too expensive.

I have never looked into the real cost of bread baking at home, I only look at the benefits. Any thoughts here? Has anyone ever looked into this?Or is it a ridiculous subject, especially there at the freshloaf?


SteveB's picture


On the King Arthur Flour Baker's Banter blog, they post 'Buy' vs. 'Bake' costs for many of the baked goods they post. 



nbicomputers's picture

i get my basics from bakery supply houses which lowes the costs quite a bit but you have to buy them in bulk.

i am also lucky that my building covers the cost of gas so engery is not a factor.

two pounds of flour at 30 cents a pound water free add the cost of sugar and salt about 2 ounces of fat and the cost is small enough thinking that you get 3 loafs from a 2 pound of flour dough.

subfuscpersona's picture

Jw on February 19, 2009 wrote:
I have never looked into the real cost of bread baking at home, I only look at the benefits. Any thoughts here? Has anyone ever looked into this?

Costing out the bread *you* bake will depend greatly on the the type of bread you make and the ingredients you use.

I'm just a home baker. I live in the USA and I buy my ingredients at retail prices. I can't buy wholesale because I live in a small apartment and don't have the storage space. Also, there are no co-ops close to me, so I can't realize any savings there either.

If you're serious in trying to estimate costs, you should also try to estimate the utility cost of preheating and baking in your oven. If you make artisan breads on a baking stone, your utility costs will be significantly higher than if you make bread in pans.

I live in the north-east USA. Flour (either bread or unbleached all-purpose) costs me $3.30 to $3.50 per 5-pound bag. King Arthur bread flour (which I like to use) is now $5.50 per 5-pound bag. If you use organic commercial flour or speciality flours, your cost will be greater.

I have three indulgences in my bread baking. I like to bake with whole grain flour. I like to use speciality honey as a sweetener in some of my breads. I like to bake artisan breads. Whole grains and honey are my two high cost ingredient items. Artisan baking jacks up my utility bill.

I'm especially sensitive to the cost of baking one's own bread because, recently, I started selling bread on a very small scale to a few of my friends and neighbors. I can't compete with a professional bakery, but, before I recruited my customers, I sat down and gave serious thought to what kind of bread I would offer and how to make the cost both reasonable for me and acceptable to them. I ended up offering a sandwich style sourdough country bread that has about 20% whole grain (home milled) flour and uses about 3% organic honey. I ruled out artisan bread because of the utility cost (I can bake 4 loaves of pan bread in my oven at once, but only two loaves of artisan bread, plus, of course, the heat required for pan bread is a lot lower).

I sell the bread at $4 for a loaf that weighs 1 & 1/3 pounds. Customers receive a weekly loaf (fresh out of the oven) on a set day every week. Delivery is free (everyone lives in my apartment building) and customers can also chose to get an email or text message notification as soon as the bread is delivered. My ingredients costs are about $1 per loaf; I'm still trying to figure out the utility costs.

My primary goal in selling bread was to be able to bake bread that I liked on a regular schedule, keep my sourdough culture active and get money to cover my ingredient costs plus a little extra for my time and trouble. These are modest goals and I've achieved them. Of course, I'm not seriously factoring in labor costs because I consider baking bread to be a labor of love. The small profit I realize allows me to indulge my hobby with a little less guilt.

arzajac's picture

How much does it cost to run your oven for an hour or so?  I reckon that is the most expensive part of baking artisan bread for the home baker.  I think these costs go down as you bake in bulk, using a larger oven, but I'm not sure.


Anyone ever work it out?



mhjoseph's picture

Just to keep things simple, you should be able get a least 6 loafs of bread out a 5 lb bag of flour which cost say $4.00 or 66.6 cents of flour per loaf. The cost of water, yeast and salt are negligable. If you buy one loaf of bread in a bakery it's going to cost around $4.00.

With these figures you can't help but save money no matter what else you add to your recipe or how long you bake it.


arzajac's picture

I worked it out. 

I pay at most 8 cents per kilowatt/hour.  An electric oven uses an average of 3-5 KW per hour, so let's say it's 5 KW/H.  5 times 8 is 40 cents per hour.

I buy a 10 Kg bag of flour for about $8.00  I use about 300 grams of flour for a single loaf.  So $8 devided by 10 is 80 cents per kilo.  300 Grams of flour is about 25 cents.  Yeast costs about six cents per teaspoon (maybe more if you buy small quantities).  Salt is less than a penny.  Let's call it a dime.  So that's 35 cents for the ingredients and  40 cents to run the oven for an hour (preheat and bake).


One loaf = 75 cents.  Two loaves would cost less since you are sharing the electic costs.  So at most, my bread costs 75 cents.


mountaindog's picture

Good analysis, thank you! Bread Alone bakery down the road from me in upstate NY charges $5 for a 600g loaf of plain pain au levain. My husband, being French, has to have bread with every meal, so just the two of us go through nearly 2 large loaves per week.  It is definitely worth my while to make bread at home! Plus I really enjoy it of course...many vegetable gardeners go through a similar exercise to figure their food savings by growing their own veggies, and a lot depends on what you grow and how.

Jw's picture

Thanks for all the remarks!
I will check my energy costs, we have a low tarif at 11 at night and in the weekend.

Whole weat flour is 11 euro for 10 kilo (14 USD for 11 pounds). I mix that with cheaper flour, else the result is too dark (for the kids).

Selling my bread is a new idea, I have to explore that..

I don't really know what the similar bread prices are. My guess is 3-5 euro. Cheap bread (but still good quality) is less then 2 euro.

My (much) better half likes the sourdough (or Kärntnerlaib from Karinthia, Austria) so much, there is no way I can get that around here.

Maybe one day there will be a 'big bread index'? Similar to the Big Mac index (which costs 3.15 euro here, around 4 USD). I had to send someone to find that out...

Thanks again,