Sunday, March 16, 2008

Bread Baking Babes - Crocodile Bread

The Babes are back! This month our group which consists of
A Fridge Full of Food (Glenna), Bake My Day (Karen), Cookie Baker Lynn (Lynn),Grain Doe (Görel), I Like to Cook (Sara), Living on Bread and Water (Monique), Lucullian Delights (Ilva), My Kitchen in Half Cups (Tanna), Notitie van Lien (Lien), The Sour Dough (Mary aka Breadchick), Thyme of Cooking (Katie), and What Did You Eat (Sher)
tackled another Wet Dough. I type it like that - Wet Dough - because these doughs scare me a little, and demand respect. I am learning that there is a fine line between a Wet Dough and a dough that just doesn't have enough flour added.

This months Wet Dough is:

The Coccodrillo.

AKA The Crocodile Bread. This recipe comes from The Italian Baker by Carol Field, and is names Coccodrillo because of its shape, which resembles, well, just guess.

This dough is different from other breads I have made in that it has two starters. The day before you are going to make the bread, you mix your yeast and water with flour and durum flour in the morning, and let it sit all day. Then in the evening you add more yeast, water, durum and flour. Mix again, and let it stand until the morning. The you add the last of the flour and mix the dough - it is too Wet to knead - for 30 minutes. Thirty minutes! Then it has two risings, you bake it and eat it.

Something unbelievable has happened to me in the past two months. You know that in addition to this group I am also part of The Daring Bakers, and I read lots of blogs. I will read posts, or emails from people who will make the same recipe 4 or 5 or 6 times before posting about it - changing size, shape, ingredients, adding, deleting. It always amazes me, and it's something that I've never thought about doing, or even wanted to do. But then last month? I made The French Bread twice. And this month I made this Croc bread twice. What have I become???????????

Well see here's what happened. Mary and I were supposed to meet up online to bake the bread together. But I was under the weather that day so Mary had to go it alone. We set up a new day to bake together, but in the meantime, I was seeing all these delicious pictures of Croc bread on our super-secret BBB blog. And I just couldn't wait until the appointed baking day, I had to give it a try. It was so great and I had no troubles at all. But I also wanted to bake with Mary - she is so helpful and smart, and gosh darn it, I just like chatting with her. So I made the bread again, with modifications to the flour. I'm scaring myself now.

First I'll show you the recipe, then if you haven't fallen asleep, you can see how my two batches of bread turned out.

The Italian Baker by Carol Field

This bread, named for its shape, was dreamed up about thirty years ago by Gianfranco Anelli, a baker in Rome. It is his favorite bread and, judging from the numbers of people who come from all over the city to buy it, it may be his most popular as well. At the bakery it takes two days to make; I suggest that you start it in the morning, work at it again for ten minutes in the evening, and finish the next day. I actually prefer to stretch the process over three days because the flavor is even better. Three days may seem formidable, but the working time of the first two days is only 5 to 10 minutes.
This is one dough that you will find difficult to make without an electric mixer, for it requires thirty minutes of continuous stirring for the final dough-of course you could enlist help. The result is an extremely light bread with a crunchy dark-speckled crust and a very chewy interior. The bread stays fresh for an amazing number of days.

Makes 2 large loaves
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast or 1/6 small cake (3 grams) fresh yeast 1 cup warm water
1/4 cup (35 grams) durum flour
3/4 cup (90 grams) unbleached stone-ground flour
The morning of the first day, stir the yeast into the water; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Add the flours and stir with a wooden spoon about 50 strokes or with the paddle of an electric mixer about 30 seconds. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 12 to 24 hours. The starter should be bubbly.

1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast or 1/2 small cake (9 grams) fresh yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/4 cups water, room temperature
1/2 cup (70 grams) durum flour
1 1/2 cups (180 grams) unbleached stone-ground flour

The evening of the same day or the next morning, stir the yeast into the warm water; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Add the water, flours and dissolved yeast to the first starter and stir, using a spatula or wooden spoon or the paddle of the electric mixer until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 12 to 24 hours.

1/4 cup (35 grams) durum flour
1 to 1 1/4 cups (120 to 140 grams) unbleached stone-ground flour
1 1/2 tablespoons (25 grams) salt

The next day, add the durum flour and 1 cup unbleached flour to the starter in a mixer bowl; mix with the paddle on the lowest speed for 17 minutes. Add the salt and mix 3 minutes longer, adding the remaining flour if needed for the dough to come together. You may need to turn the mixer off once or twice to keep it from overheating.

If you decide to make this dough by hand, place the starter, durum flour, and 1 cup unbleached flour in a wide mouthed bowl. Stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon for 25 to 30 minutes; then add the salt and remaining flour if needed and stir 5 minutes longer. The dough is very wet and will not be kneaded.

First Rise. Pour the dough into a Hammarplast bowl or a wide mouthed large bowl placed on an open trivet on legs or on a wok ring so that air can circulate all around it. Loosely drape a towel over the top and let rise at about 70° F, turning the dough over in the bowl every hour, until just about tripled, 4 or 5 hours.

Shaping and Second Rise. Pour the wet dough onto a generously floured surface. Have a mound of flour nearby to flour your hands, the top of the oozy dough, and the work surface itself. This will all work fine-appearances to the contrary-but be prepared for an unusually wet dough. Make a big round shape of it by just folding and tucking the edges under a bit. Please don't try to shape it precisely; it's a hopeless task and quite unnecessary. Place the dough on well, floured parchment or brown paper placed on a baking sheet or peel. Cover with a dampened towel and let rise until very blistered and full of
air bubbles, about 45 minutes.

Baking. Thirty minutes before baking, heat the oven with a baking stone in it to 475° F. Just before baking, cut the dough in half down the center with a dough scraper; a knife would tear the dough. Gently slide the 2 pieces apart and turn so that the cut surfaces face upward. Sprinkle the stone with cornmeal. If you feel brave, slide the paper with the dough on it onto the stone, but the dough can also be baked directly on the baking sheet. When the dough has set, slide the paper out. Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Are you still there? Ok, so here's my first batch. When the BBB's were talking flour before we started it was recommended to me that I buy some Wheat Gluten to add to my regular all purpose flour. I bought some, but chickened out in using it for this batch. This bread was made with AP flour and Durum Semolina. I made the first starter, then 12 hours later added the second. Due to poor planning the starter then sat for 24 hours on my table. Not that that is bad for the dough, but it was bad for me - I was up until after 1 AM making this bread. On a work night!

Obviously I chose to use my mixer for this rather than stirring by hand for half an hour. Here's the dough slowly sliding off the paddle after its 20 minutes of mixing.

And here it is after completing its first rise.

Yup, it's a sticky dough. This is where I made my only error, and I use that word loosely. I put too much flour on the counter, so when I was folding and tucking the edges, I scooped some flour into the dough on one side. When the bread cooked it had a little line of unmixed flour along one side of a loaf. Not a big deal, we just cut it off.

The blob after the second rise.

Cut into two and ready for the oven.


Look at that! Perfect. This was a mighty damn tasty bread. Crispy crust, great texture, a bit salty. Very good and really not difficult. I would make this bread again in a heartbeat.

And then just a few days later, I did! This time I added the gluten - 1/2 tsp per cup of flour.

Dough after the mixing.

Slightly less sticky, but still a soft dough.

Two pretty loaves ready for the oven.

Look at the bread! Looks professional, don't it.

And pretty on the inside too. In the end I don't think there was a lot of difference between the two batches. I thought the flavor was a little milder in this batch. The crust seemed softer and less crisp. Scott preferred this batch to the first, but I felt the opposite. But the end result were 4 loaves of fantastic bread.

Please check out the other babes blogs today to read about their experiences. Thanks to Lien for choosing this recipe. It is definitely going to be made again and again in my house.


sher said...

I can't imagine doing this bread by hand! My arm would fall off. Your bread looks very professional--and delicious! Great pictures.

Gretchen Noelle said...

Your loaves look fantastic! Great job for doing it not once, but twice!

Ilva said...

Oh oh you too, what are we turning into? Flour nerds? With an obsession of baking bread? But still, it IS fun isn´t it? Your bread looks absolutely gorgeous!

Lien said...

Wow what amazing bread, they look great! Yours had a great ovenrise. Fantastic! Yes we all experience that our behaviours have changed...and it's only our second BBBBread.. what will become of us.. It was fun wasn't is!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Gadzooks Sara are we all going over to the dark side? Or is this the light side?
I do so wish I could have tasted both your breads. The first looks more successful but the truth would be in the taste.
Both bakings are beautiful!

Annie said...

Looks great and I bet it makes wonderful toast!

test it comm said...

Thats a messy dough. The finished bread looks great though.

breadchick said...

Aw shucks Sara....

I missed baking with you on the 1st Sunday and was sorry you were under the weather. It was weird not to be making funny comments and sharing "stage" pictures back and forth. I'm glad though that you don't mind being corrupted ;-) I can't think of anyone I'd rather corrupt!!

breadchick said...

OH and btw, your crocs kick arse!!!

Karen Baking Soda said...

Love your breads, look at that ovenspring! You know, my dough wasn't coming together like yours in the first place :-(

görel said...

Interesting! I didn't get before that you added gluten the second time. Hmm, I think I will have to do a test bake of something soon, with and without added gluten, to watch the difference. However, both your breads look lovely!

Sherry Trifle - Lovely Cats said...

Your bread looks wonderful. I was inducted into the bread baking passion with my first Daring Baker submission, Julia Child's French Bread. Mine didn't come out that well, but onwards, onwards. I would like to join your group - will follow your instructions on how to join. Heather

Brilynn said...

Whoa! That bread looks awesome! Well done!

Katie Zeller said...

Okay: You had no trouble at all...
Plus yours looks like realy bread...
You're gonna make me do this again aren't you? Just to prove to me that I can....

Lis said...

You bread bakers are making me so excited! It's so very cool to be able to find bread recipes so easily on my favorite blogs now.. I am running out of excuses not to bake my own!

I'll definitely be trying this one.. it reminds me a bit of ciabatta - one of my favorites!