Posts Tagged ‘homemade bread’

I was keen to try making heart-shaped rolls, after seeing them on a Valentine’s Day episode of River Cottage recently.

Google turned up fabulous instructions here, and the technique adapted well to my sourdough rolls.  I lowered the hydration in my dough a little to help it hold the shape.

Begin by shaping the proved dough into balls – mine were about 160g each…

Roll one end of the ball into a point – I did this by rolling the dough between the palms of my hands…

Snip through the fat end of the roll with a pair of kitchen scissors…

Now turn the dough “ears”, so that the cut surfaces are face down…

Place on a parchment lined tray, and cover first with a sheet of greased clingfilm, and then with a tea towel.  Allow to prove.

Slash the hearts if desired, then bake as you normally would for bread rolls.  Mine took 15 minutes at a preheated 220C with fan, followed by a further 20 minutes at 175C with fan (which is standard for my sourdough recipe and oven).   Serve to people you love!

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Fougasse was one of my earliest breads – the shape being the first one taught in Richard Bertinet’s Dough.  It’s very quick to make with yeast, as it doesn’t require a second rise, although I’ve only had limited success making it with sourdough.  Like many flatbreads, it seems to rely on the speed of bakers’ yeast to give it a quick spring in the oven.


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Richard Bertinet’s Dough presents a very persuasive argument for baking bread at home.  Over a two-page spread, it describes the difference between a typical shop-bought loaf and one made at home.  Here’s what it says:

Shop-bought loaf typically contains:

  • wheatflour
  • water
  • yeast
  • wheat protein
  • salt
  • vinegar
  • dextrose
  • soya flour
  • vegetable fat
  • emulsifier E472e (mono- and diacetyle tartaric acid esters of mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids)
  • flour treatment agent E300 (ascorbic acid)
  • preservative calcium propionate (to inhibit mould growth).

Home-made loaf contains:

  • flour
  • yeast
  • salt
  • water

That was enough to convince us to start baking our own bread in 2006.

Now, three years on, we know where every ingredient in our bread comes from – our flour is Australian grown and processed in Kevin Sherrie’s state of the art mill; our oil is extra virgin cold-pressed from cousin Andrew’s olives.  We buy Australian sea salt and control the exact amount we use, making our homemade bread about 30% less salty than supermarket loaves.  Our sourdough leaven is constantly being renewed, providing us with crusty, low GI loaves two to three times a week.  Additionally, baking bread satisfies my creative urges, and instills a rhythm and cadence in our lives that I find particularly comforting.

All this for a total outlay of 65c per loaf, about $4.50 a week.  Can you see why we just can’t bring ourselves to buy commercial bread anymore?

If you’d like try baking your own bread at home, you might find our Bread #101 Tutorial useful.  There are also lots of recipes on our Bread page. Have fun!

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It’s really not about the money.

We started our journey into homemade not for financial reasons, but because we wanted to eat better.  It was also a challenge – can we make this ourselves? How far down the production ladder can we reasonably go?  We’re certainly not  diehards and, whilst we don’t buy pre-prepared or packaged food if we can help it, we’re still happy to eat out at restaurants and purchase spice mixes and condiments.

So it was never really about the money.  But the unexpected bonus is, over the past few years, we’ve saved a fortune.  Our food costs are about half of what they used to be, despite the substantial improvement in the quality of our meals.  We regularly cook more than we can eat – because it’s fun to do, and we love to share – but also because it seems so easy to have an abundance when you’re cooking from first principles.

There are many articles written about frugal living, but they usually tout the same (albeit sound) advice – eat seasonally, pack your own lunches, make use of your leftovers and so forth.  I’ve been trying to identify the things that really save us money, and thought it might be nice to blog about these over the next few months.

So here is our first suggestion – the one that started the ball rolling for us:

Bake your own bread and buy your milk in bulk.

We started baking bread in January 2007 and have never looked back. As I’ve mentioned before, apart from the health benefits (no additives, lower GI), it costs us about 65c per loaf for good sourdough, which is a huge saving over even the cheapest commercial bread.

We also buy our milk in bulk – easy to do here in Australia because UHT milk is both readily available and economical.  Our boys are more than happy to drink it, and it’s perfect for cooking and making yoghurt. I know many people are quite particular about their milk and won’t touch UHT, but it certainly suits our lifestyle – we buy 48 litres at a time, which will last us for several months unrefrigerated.  In general, UHT is cheaper than fresh, because it’s made in batches whenever the dairies have surplus milk.

Now, while homemade bread and bulk milk purchases save us money, the real reason it’s our top tip for frugal living is this: when you take away the need to buy bread and milk twice a week, you also remove the need to go to the supermarket every few days.

We buy our meat from the butchers, fresh produce from the markets and deli goods from a specialist supplier – which means we only need to go to the supermarket about once a month, if that.  This single change to our shopping routine has saved us a lot of money – it’s surprising how much we used to spend at the supermarket, on items which were both frivolous and unnecessary.  But more importantly, when freed from the “supermarket mindset”, we started to seek out specialised and passionate food suppliers, and the quality of what we were eating improved dramatically.

If you’d like to give breadmaking a go, you might find this tutorial useful.  Be warned though, once you start, it’s hard to go back to boring commercial bread.  And when you’ve mastered the basic techniques, you’ll be able to create everything from your own sandwich loaves to pizzas.  Have fun!

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Click here for more Frugal Living posts

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Baking your own bread is one of the most rewarding things you can do.  If you’ve never tried before, or you’re daunted by the prospect of it, please let me assure you that it’s a relatively simple process.  You can have a decent loaf of bread from start to finish in two to three hours (depending on the ambient temperature) and for most of that time the bread is simply rising or baking on its own while you get on with other things.  We’ve been making all our own bread for years now, and this is where we started (although we’ve since moved to sourdough rather than yeast).

The most important thing to know is this – the quality of your bread and how much it rises is almost completely contingent upon the flour you use.  If you can’t get a decent high-protein bread flour, then wait until you can, because if you make bread with plain flour, you’ll be disillusioned and won’t try again.  The gluten protein in the flour must be high enough for the yeast to make the bread rise.  Fortunately, bread flour, also known as bakers flour, is now readily available in most supermarkets.  Here, with lots of photos and videos, is how I make basic yeasted bread.  The recipe is based on Richard Bertinet’s olive dough and it’s very versatile – you can shape it into rolls, loaves, epi, stuff it with interesting fillings, or spread it out flat and make pizza (it actually works brilliantly as pizza dough).

  • 500g bread or bakers flour
  • 10g dried yeast (or one sachet)
  • 8g fine sea salt
  • 320g water (weigh it if you can, as you’ll get a more accurate result. If not, use 320ml)
  • 50g olive oil (I use extra virgin)

Bread #101 – A Basic Tutorial continues here…

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