Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I'm a babe! Of the bread making variety.

Once upon a time (earlier this month) some lovely ladies asked me to join them on an adventure. To boldly go where none of us (or most of us, or maybe just me) had gone before; to become babes. Babes who bake bread. Bread Baking Babes!

I said yes of course and there are 12 babes, all listed below. Together we will teach, learn, support and share with each other. And eat lots and lots of bread!

A Fridge Full of Food (Glenna), Bake My Day (Karen), Cookie Baker Lynn (Lynn), I Like to Cook (Sara), Living on Bread and Water (Monique), Lucullian Delights (Ilva), My Kitchen in Half Cups (Tanna), Nami-Nami (Pille), Notitie van Lien (Lien), The Sour Dough (Mary aka Breadchick), Thyme of Cooking (Katie), and What Did You Eat (Sher)

Our first bread was picked by Karen. She chose the Royal Crown Tortano, which I had never heard of before. It was a two day process which would produce a large round loaf of bread with huge air holes (the recipe says air cells, which sounds nicer).

The dough is an extremely soft dough, and had that not been drilled into my head - in a nice way, of course - I would have thought I'd ruined it.

Although my slashes didn't come out very clearly, I was beyond pleased with how the bread turned out. It was beautiful, and rustic looking and tasted incredible. I don't think the loaf of bread lasted 2 days.

Below are all the BBB's who took part this month. You should go read more about this bread, and then get started to make your own.

A Fridge Full of Food (Glenna), Bake My Day (Karen), Cookie Baker Lynn (Lynn), I Like to Cook (Sara), Living on Bread and Water (Monique), Lucullian Delights (Ilva), My Kitchen in Half Cups (Tanna), Nami-Nami (Pille), Notitie van Lien (Lien), The Sour Dough (Mary aka Breadchick), and What Did You Eat (Sher)

Thanks to my beautiful Bread Baking Babes! My apologies for not posting on Sunday with the rest of you.

Royal Crown’s Tortano
(from Artisan Baking Across America by Maggie Glazer)

Recipe Quantity: One 2 1/4lb (1200 gram) Tortano

Time Required for Recipe: About 19 hours, with about 20 minutes of active work

Note about recipe: You will need to start this recipe the night BEFORE you want to bake the bread.

This is the most beautiful bread Royal Crown makes, a huge round loaf filled with radish size air cells, tanks to careful handling and lots of water in the dough. Joe adds potato for flavor and moistness and honey for color to this very wet, squishy dough. For extra flavor, the bread is leavened solely by its starter, so it rises very slowly and develops a nice but not aggressive acidity. To get authentic Italian flavor, you will need to bake this bread to a deep, dark brown so don’t skimp on the baking time - the bread will not burn.

Recipe Synopsis

The Evening Before Baking: Make the starter and if you like the mashed potato.

The Next Morning: Mix the dough and let it ferment for about 4 hours. Shape it, proof it for about 1 1/2 hours, and then bake the bread for about 45 minutes.

The Evening Before Baking: Making the Pre-Ferment:

1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 cup water 105 - 115 degrees F
100 grams unbleached bread flour
85 grams small potato

Stir the yeast into the water in a glass measure and let it stand for 5 - 10 minutes. Add 1/3 cup of this yeasted water (discard the rest) to the flour and beat this very sticky starter until it is well combined. Cover with plastic wrap and let it ferment until it is full of huge bubbles and sharp tasting, about 12 hours. If your kitchen is very warm and the pre-ferment is fermenting very quickly, place it in the refrigerator after 3 hours of fermenting. In the morning, remove it and allow it to come to room temperature 30 minutes to an hour before beginning the final dough

Preparing the Potato: For efficiency, you may want to prepare the potato the night before. Quarter it, then boil it in water to cover until it can be easily pierced with a knife tip, about 20 minutes. Drain; if desired, reserve the water for the dough. Press the potato through a ricer or sieve to puree it and remove the skin. Store it in a covered container in the refrigerator. You will need only 1/4 cup puree.

Bake Day: Mixing the Dough

575 grams unbleached bread flour
420 grams Water, including the potato water if desired, lukewarm
14 grams honey
60 grams Potato puree
15 grams salt

By Hand: Use your hands to mix the flour and water into a rough, very wet dough in a large bowl. Cover the dough and let rest for 10 - 20 minutes.

Add the pre-ferment, honey, potato, and salt, and knead the dough until it is smooth, 5 - 10 minutes. It will start off feeling rubbery, then break down into goo; if you persist, eventually it will come together into a smooth, shiny dough. If you do not have the skill or time to knead it to smoothness, the bread will not suffer. This is a tremendously wet and sticky dough, so use a dough scraper to help you but do not add more flour, for it will ruin the texture of the bread.

By Stand Mixer: With your hands or a wooden spoon, mix the flour and water into a rough, very wet dough in the work bowl of your mixer. Cover the dough and let it rest for 10 - 20 minutes.

Fit the mixer with the dough hook. Add the pre-ferment, honey, potato and salt and the mix the dough on medium speed for 15 - 20 minutes, or until very silky and wraps around the hook and cleans the bowl before splatering back around the bowl. This dough is almost pourably wet.

Fermenting and Turning the Dough:

Shape the dough into a ball and roll it in flour. Place it in a container at least 3 times its size and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let it ferment until doubled in bulk and filled with large air bubbles, about 4 hours. Using plenty of dusting flour, turn the dough 4 times in 20 minute intervals, that is, after 20, 40, 60, and 80 minutes of fermenting, the leave the dough undisturbed for the remaining time. Do not allow this dough to over ferment or ferment to the point of collapse, for the flavor and structure of your bread will suffer.

Shaping and Proofing the Dough:

Turn the fermented dough out onto a well floured work surface, round it and let it rest for 20 minutes. Sprinkle a couche or wooden board generously with flour. Slip a baking sheet under the couche if you are using one for support.

Sprinkle a generous amount of flour over the center of the ball. Push your fingers into the center to make a hole, the rotate your hand around the hole to widen it, making a large 4 inch opening. The bread should have about 12 inch diameter.

Place the dough smooth side down on the floured couche or board and dust the surface with more flour. Drape it with plastic wrap and let it proof until it is light and slowly springs back when lightly pressed, about 1 1/2 hours.

Preheating the Oven:

Immediately after shaping the bread, arrange a rack on the oven’s second to top shelf and place a baking stone on it. Clear away all the racks above the one being used. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (230 C)

Baking the Bread:

Unwrap the bread and flip it onto a floured peel or a sheet of parchment paper. Do not worry about damaging the bread as you handle it; it will recover int eh oven as long as it is not over proofed. Slash it with 4 radial cuts in the shape of a cross. Slide the loaf onto the hot baking stone and bake until it is very dark brown, 40 -50 minutes, rotating it halfway into the bake. Let the bread cool on a rack.


Karen Baking Soda said...

It never fails to amaze me how this blob of dough turns into a well behaving dough ball and finally an amazing bread!
Rustic Artisanal Babe bread!

Peter M said...

A fabulous display of bread...you are a baker babe!

Ilva said...

Oh you made it! I'm so happy to see your bread! Your dough looks beautiful, you should have seen mine!!

Deborah said...

I should really learn not to read about food before breakfast. Now all I want is bread!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Bread and wine and thou! Glorious Bread Sara!
Totally wonderful this bread! The transformation this dough makes is pretty amazing!
I'm so happy you're with us!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Gorgeous bread. I tried my hand at it yesterday and was disappointed by my efforts. Your post to me today is an encouragement to try and try again! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Your bread looks wonderful! Is this group open to other members? I would love more information.


breadchick said...

Ah Sara, you can play "Bones" to my "Spock" any day! And you so under estimate your bread baking skills my dear. If it wasn't for you this month I would never have figured out I forgot to add some flour!

sher said...

I love how all the Tortanos look so similar! I feel like I'm looking at one of mine--and you have the same Mixmaster as me too! Separated at birth! This was so much fun and I'm very glad you made your beautiful loaf (round). :):)

Lien said...

So good you made it! Your bread looks fantastic Sara, A great job!!!

Brilynn said...

Your group is so tempting... but I'm bad enough as it is about participating in blogging events I don't think I can add another one. I'll just have to live vicariously through you!

Peabody said...

What a wonderful loaf of bread you have made!

mimi said...

this looks lovely! hope to add it to my yeasty repetoire soon!

Jenny said...

Your bread looks great!

Monique said...

Well, you did it, Babe.
And even the dough looks fine.
Great job !!

Andrea said...

You are indeed a Bread Baking Babe! Your loaf looks fantastic!