Bread making in the name of austerity

In the wake of my recent holiday I’ve decided that it’s time to apply my own austerity measures and finally put into practise some the many recipes I get from chefs to reduce my grocery bills on everyday basics such as bread.

On average I visit the bakery every other day and spend €5-€6 on fresh bread and foccacia. That comes to an average of €18 a week, €72 a month and a whopping €864 a year on bread! That’s a lot of dough so to speak! Not to mention the extras such as Colomba at easter at €22 / kilo and Panettone at christmas for €22 / kilo plus the odd torte here and there. So when did bread get to be so expensive and what’s stopping us making our own?

Back in February Food and Foodies ran a bread making course called Pani e Mani (Bread and Hands) with chef Edoardo Ruggiero from La Brioschina, Milan and I got to watch first hand as he whipped up white bread, semolina bread, ciabatte, bread sticks, focaccia and much more in a matter of minutes so today I decided to see if it is really that easy.

My mission is to make my own Semolina bread made using a mix of manitoba flour, semolina flour, salt, yeast and water. I pluck out the recipe used for the course and discover I don’t have the final ingredient, malt flour, but with only 3g needed I decide my bread can live without it. Not one to go for the easy option I’ve chosen a bread that requires two mixes and two stages of lievitation but as I’ve already tasted the goods at the course I know it will be worth the extra effort.

My first dough mix takes a little over 10 minutes to make and then I get to rest for a couple of hours whilst it rises. I then have to add in the second round of flour and water and knead my final dough mix. I then divide this into 2 loaves so that I can cook one for today and cook the other in a couple of days time (apparantly I can keep my dough in the fridge for 48hrs), that way this one recipe will cover 4 days worth of bread eating. Once again my bread needs to rise so I busy myself for another couple of hours before I can bake.

My fabulous bread dough made this afternoon

Baking time is only 15 minutes so after all the waiting the final step is relatively quick. Within minutes the smell of freshly baked bread starts to tempt my taste buds and I’m slightly concerned that this alone with make me eat a double portion once its cooked and turn my cost saving exercise into a dietary “code red” bread overdose.

Before I cut into my first piece of still warm bread has it been worth it? Well my ingredients cost me a mere €3.59 (two bags of flour; manitoba and semolina) and yeast which is less than one of my single bread purchases. What’s more, I have enough ingredients to make at least 4 rounds of bread (2 loaves) as per today so my weekly €18 bread spend could be reduced to a €3.59 shop, a bit of elbow grease and a couple of euros to cover the electricity used saving me up to €690 a year.

Was it worth it? Yes as the bread is delicious and yes as the actual dough making only took 10-15 minutes but the million dollar question is will I really be able to keep it up? Only time will tell!

Manitoba flour is available in most supermarkets and health food stores

Recipe for Semolina Bread by Edoardo Ruggiero, La Brioschina, Milan

1st Dough Mix:

250g Manitoba Flour

10g Beer Yeast

150g Water

2nd Dough Mix: Take first dough mix and add in…

250g Semolina Flour

7g salt

3g malt flour

137g water

Preparation

All the ingredients are in grams as it is easier to measure.

Make the first dough mix by mixing the manitoba flour, yeast and water in a bowl. Once mixed turn out onto a floured board and knead for a couple of minutes. When you role the dough out try not to add in too much exta flour as it dries the mix out. If its sticking, flour your hands and not the dough. . Leave to rise for 2 hours.

Weigh out the next round of ingredients and place in bowl togther with the first dough. Combine together and then repeat the kneading as above. Divide mix into 2 -4 loaves and leave to rise for 2 hours.

Bake in the centre of a hot oven 190° for 12 minutes with valve closed and then 3 minutes with valve open. If you don’t have an oven with a valve then simply open the door for 10 seconds after the first 12 minutes to let any moisture out of the oven.

Enjoy!

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