Thursday, 29 May 2008

Loaves and fishes

I've been focussing on the respective costs of buying and making bread this week and must say the gulf between the two came as quite a shock. A 1.5kg pack of strong white flour, admittedly not the best you can buy, costs just 48p in Tesco this week. Strong brown costs 89p and stoneground wholemeal 93p. 1.5kg of flour is enough to make 3 big loaves. Even allowing for the cost of the other ingredients and running your oven at full blast for an hour that's a considerable saving.

I've posted the recipe for the bread I made yesterday (above) on Beyond Baked Beans. The original came from Signe, a young Norwegian post-graduate student (and trained cook) who is currently helping me out with the book. I was a bit sceptical of the idea of adding what amounts to a large bowl of porridge but it gives the loaf a fabulously moist texture. We've just had some toasted with honey for breakfast and it was terrific.

The other bargain buy yesterday was the dabs I bought for a song in the farmers market. Well, not quite a song - they were a pound each but because there was only one left when we'd bought our four they threw in a fifth free. There's not much fish on them so they're a bit fiddly to eat but the flavour is fabulously sweet - just as good as sole at a fraction of the price. We simply dusted them in a little seasoned flour and pan-fried them in butter.

Incidentally I was riveted to read on the site Sea Fishing when I looked up dabs that the recommended bait was 'a slightly stale lugworm'. I wonder how you tell if a lugworm is stale? Any fishermen reading this do tell.


notSupermum said...

I have cut right back on bread since realising we didn't actually eat that much of it, it just seems that I always had to have bread in the breadbin...only to throw it away days later. I keep a small loaf in the freezer now, and take out what we need. I also buy and freeze bagels individually (after cutting in half) and they put straight into the toaster from the freezer. Pitta bread is the same.

I've had become a bit more imaginative with my daughters' packed lunches too, as they both kept leaving their sandwiches. Cheap alternatives that they actually eat are pasta salads, couscous salads, cold leftover pizza (yep, they love it!) and chicken pieces.

Verity said...

Do you think you could make your bread in a bread machine? How much does the finished loaf weigh - I'd like to have a go!

Fiona Beckett said...

We've been eating less bread too, notsupermum. More because I've been trying to lose weight than for frugal reasons (along with cheese, bread is a great weakness . . . ) Although there are quite a few things you can do with the tail end of a loaf such as making breadcrumbs I think the trick is to do as you do and freeze some of the loaf as soon as you buy it or make it.

Glad to hear you're getting your girls to eat more adventurous packed lunches. It's a big problem with kids because they're so conscious of anything that's different so you're doing really well there!

I'm sure you could make this bread in a breadmaker, verity only perhaps it would be better not to leave it overnight to start baking the following morning as the moistness of the oats might activate the yeast. I don't know what the final weight was but I baked it in a 900g (2lb) loaf tin. Let me know how you get on!

Silicon Limey said...

I cheat and use a breadmaker but have been hooked on making my own bread for many years. Try adding a handful of chopped walnuts and Brazil nuts to a wholemeal loaf, the results are very pleasant.

Fiona Beckett said...

Nothing wrong in using a breadmaker silicon limey. Like using a food processor to make pastry. Why not? Like the idea of walnuts and brazil nuts in a wholemeal bread. Brazils are greatly underrated in my view.