The traditional Spanish bread, pan, is a long loaf, kind of similar to the French baguette. You can also buy a pan redondo, a round loaf. In the traditional bakeries in Spain they make the bread daily and you can buy it warm in the mornings to have with your olive oil for breakfast. Of course you can also pop into a supermarket and buy their version of bread, which is usually fluffy, flavourless and hollow.
In Spain, especially in the Mediterranean area, there have been guilds of bakers for over 750 years.
Bread comes at every meal time in Spain – tostada y tomate for breakfast, a bocadillo for second breakfast, bread with your menu del día and of course bread to transport the tapas at supper! Or use bread for making migas or torrijas. For more Spanish food words take a look at this article: Spanish Food & Drink Cheat Sheet
In the village of La Murta, where I live, home to 101 people, we make about 200 tonnes of bread per year – more than the weight of a jumbo jet! That’s about 548 kilos of bread per day. If the villagers had to eat it all we’d be eating over 5 kilos of bread each per day! It’s a good job our bread is enjoyed all around the region.
There are three bakeries in our village supplying the restaurants and bars around the Murcia city and region. People come from all over the area to buy our bread. The bakers start work at 2am and bake through the night to make sure your pan y aceite is fresh each day. Frequently at about 4am the local police will make a visit to the village to check on the production and perhaps enjoy a freshly baked pan!
In Manolo’s Panadería in La Murta there’s a batch of dough called the “masa madre” (mother dough or sourdough) that starts each bake. This is a piece of dough separated from the main batch and preserved till the next day to start the new batch. The yeast strains of this masa madre are relatively resistant to low temperatures (more than those of the commercial yeast) and can be stored overnight by live feeding it with flour and water. Manolo and his wife Trini make the bread in a traditional wood fuelled oven and weigh out the dough with ancient scales. There are some modern conveniences of course, they use a machine for rolling the bread sticks. This is hard work, manually moving tonnes of bread each year. They bake every day and each loaf is hand made. Watch in the video as this master baker hand rolls two pan redondo at the same time.
Many of the traditional bakeries in Spain will sell you uncooked dough. You can take this home to cook and make your own loaves or flat bread. Or even make a Spanish pizza – coca – which is bread dough, rolled out to a rectangular form and topped with whatever takes your fancy – caramelised onions, fresh tomatoes from the garden, chorizo, anchovies, olives – keep it simple. There’s a great recipe from Nuria at www.spanishrecipesbynuria.com/ and if you buy your dough from the bakers you can have it ready & cooked in 15 minutes!
If you fancy some bread from La Murta take your pick from our three bakeries:
If you want to try some La Murta recipes have a look at our book.
Spanish Village Cooking – Recetas del Campo… Over 150 simple, family recipes from a rural village in Spain… Enjoy over 150 simple, family recipes from a small village in Murcia. These recipes have been handed down through generations, grandmother to mother to daughter, making use of local, homegrown ingredients and traditional cooking methods. The chefs of La Murta generously share their secrets, so you can enjoy fresh, Spanish food from the heart of the Sierra del Carrascoy.
This book is in English & Spanish, in Print & in Kindle editions.
Get the book from the Fiesta Committee in La Murta or from Amazon from www.NativeSpain.com