The most expensive ingredient in bread is one you cannot buy, or borrow or store. You can have it for free. The problem is not in the initial cost, but in the use of it. This is TIME.
In commercial bakeries time means extra hours of work and also extra space to store doughs in process.
A good bread needs time to rest between the mixing of the dough and the making up of the loaves. The longer this time, the more space the baker needs to store the doughs in process of fermentation. Bakeries in cities are very restricted in space, unless the baker wants to pay a much higher rent, thus increasing the costs of production.
During fermentation time, at least three great things happen in the dough:
1.- The flour gives all its flavour to the dough.
2.- The yeast works on the flour creating a delicious bready taste and somehow pre-digesting the dough.
3.- Substances produced during fermentation make the gluten elastic and appropriate to shape up the dough into a piece of bread.
Sad to say: most people are looking for cheaper bread. The only way to satisfy their demand is by using artificial chemical products to speed up the process. The resulting bread (if we can call it bread) is a tasteless, under baked, pale and unhealthy imitation.
In my breads I do not use any kind of chemical products and give the dough all the time it needs to mature. This is at least 3 hours for fermentation and 2 more hours for making up and proofing: 5 or more hours in total.
I am happy indeed to bake bread that will benefit the health of my customers.