Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Cheat's Ciabatta

I have a confession to make: I hardly ever bake bread. This is strange, perhaps, for someone who enjoys baking as much as I do. But even though I don't have a very sweet tooth, I've always found cakes and biscuits more fun to experiment with.

But when my dad came to visit at Christmas, he introduced me to the idea of bread mixes. It feels like cheating, and I was very reluctant at first, but he persuaded me to have a go. I was really pleasantly surprised by how fresh and delicious the resulting breads were. My favourite was the ciabatta mix, which makes two loaves or (my preference) 10 really nice rolls.

Despite my purely emotional resistance to the idea of baking from a packet mix, this is actually significantly less cheating than what I usually do, which is just to buy a loaf of bread from the supermarket when I need one.

ciabatta bread mix

I thought it might be fun to compare the cost, time, and effort involved in the two methods of acquiring bread. These comparisons are based on the assumption that we need to go and buy bread outside of our regular grocery shopping, requiring a separate trip, which is quite often how it works out.

A loaf of ciabatta at the nearest supermarket costs £1.14, plus there's also the cost of petrol (we're a couple of miles away). Compared to this, a packet of ciabatta bread mix is 75p, plus electricity to heat the oven. The ciabatta mix makes a larger quantity of bread than a single loaf, almost twice as much.

Driving to the shop, buying a loaf of bread, and driving back again takes about 25-30 minutes depending on queues. Making up the bread mix only takes about five minutes, but then there's 35 minutes of rising time, and 15 minutes of baking (for rolls) - giving a total of about an hour before the bread is ready to eat.

Going out, the whole time is spent driving or shopping. By contrast, the actual work involved in making up this bread mix is about ten minutes - mixing, kneading, and moving the bread in and out of the oven. While the bread is rising and baking, I can put my feet up with a good book.

In conclusion, we can get bread a little quicker by driving to the shop, but baking it myself results in a much fresher, tastier loaf. It's also cheaper, and takes less actual work. I've swallowed my anti-packet pride, and have now taken to keeping a few packets of this mix in the cupboard for when I need them.


rosaria said...

You are a modern girl, comparing all aspects of a product. In my case, not a modern girl, I too compare; above all, if the taste is good, I just skip the other comparisons.

Jules said...

Now breadmaking is something I do regularly (I have just taken 2 loaves out of the oven...) Like you I feel a resistance to anything not made from scratch - but maybe I will give it a go now.

Elizabeth Braun said...

Martin makes most of our bread these days. Some he makes according to a traditional Swabian recipe (his home area in south-west Germany, but we also use the seed and multi grain mixes by the same company - with a bit of wholemeal flour added to bulk them out.=)

Jenny Woolf said...

One of these days I'm going to get a bread maker. I love fancy breads but they just take too long to do, even if they are simple versions. I might be tempted to try this though!

emma said...

I like the Wright's Ciabatta mix too although I do feel a bit guilty about it. One thing to be wary of - I've found if you leave it until too close to the Expiry Date they don't work so well, so they're not good for keeping in the cupboard for long periods of time.

becky said...

I'm incapable of baking bread, try as I may. A big problem with the right temperature for yeast. So I'm happy to inhabit the bakery :)

Monica said...

excellent point that the real cheating is buying a loaf! lol

i love that range of mixes, used to use them when living in england.

Elle Sees said...

I've never made bread. Only pumpkin and banana breads, which aren't the same things.

Anonymous said...

Some of the mixes are actually very good. I've not tried the ciabatta mix, but I think I will, now!

Velva said...

Welcome to the world of using bread mixes...Absolutely no shame. It can make a perfectly good and enjoyable bread loaf.

Tell me that you have a bread machine too, that's a new level too. I highly recommend it.


christine said...

it does look very ciabatta like:) I used to bake so much bread when you were at home, and often Danish pastries, too, but the gluten free flours just don't fill the kitchen with the same aroma:(

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