The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Carol Field

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Over a year ago I received my copy of Carol Field's "The Italian Baker". 

Until today I only used the recipes for Pugliese and the Chocolate And Milk Bread, both being among our favourite breads.

I wanted to explore this great book more in depth for a while, and took y first step today - making the white Pane Di Como, and the 50% rye Pane Nero Di Bolzano.

Both came out very nice, the Pane Nero with an amazing and surprising note of almond.

Both are highly recommended.

Here some photos:

Here the crumb (along with two breads baked earlier):

Pane Nero and Pane Di Como are in the middle; the left slices are from a Whole-Wheat Levain (from Hamelman's "Bread"), the slices to the right are from my Russian Rye.





Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss


I've made the Pane alla Cioccolata fron Carol Field's Italian Baker many times with great success, and I always wanted to try the Pane al Latte e Cioccolata, which brings milk bread and chocolate together.

However, I have some problems with the milk dough recipe from the first edition of the book.

/* UPDATE */

After input from lvbaker I recalculated the formula, and now I have a milk dough with the same hydration level as the chocolate dough. A charm to work with. My adjusted percentages are given below, here some new photos:

The bread on the rise:

The whole loaf:

Detail shot:

Pane alla Cioccolata:

"Sponge": Water 15%, Sugar 0.7%, Instant Yeast 1%

Dough: all of the "Sponge", Flour 100%, Water 47%, Egg Yolk 3%, Butter 3.8% Sugar 20%, Cocoa Powder 5%, Chocolate Chips 25%, Salt 1.6%, Total 222.1%

Pane al Latte

Sponge: Flour 25%, Milk 25%, Sugar 3%, Instant Yeast 0.6%

Dough: All of the sponge, Flour 75%, Milk 25%, Rum 3%, Egg 12%, Butter 10%, Salt 1%, Total 179.6%

/* OLD POST */

But first some photos of this spectacular bread:

The shaped loaves, resting:

After the bake:

Crumb of a third loaf, a braid:

This is very tasty, as you can imagine.

Now to my problem:

The recipe gives for the sponge of the milk dough the following quantities:

1 3/4 teaspoon dry yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 cup milk

1 cup less 1 tablespoon (135g) flour

Now, this is not enough liquid to hydrate the dough, and it definitely doesn't make the batter it should.

I am kind-of improvising,

but has anyone got the second edition of the Italian Baker? What quantities (% or g) are being used there?

Thanks a lot,




mse1152's picture

Greetings, bakers,

Tonight for dinner we had salad and the 'Rosettes of Venice' rolls from Carol Field's The Italian Baker.  I don't know why I never tried them before, but they were fabulous!  The recipe wants 500g of biga, and I had 486g of biga in the freezer, so I declared that was enough biga to attempt these.  They take about 5-ish hours from start to finish.  They look like hole-less bagels or kaiser rolls, but are much softer than either of those...maybe the 1/2 cup of olive oil had something to do with it.  The recipe said you should get 12 to 14 rolls, but I made only 8.  At that size, they'd make wonderful sandwich rolls, which I intend to verify tomorrow.



Soft and tasty, with just enough sugar to notice.  They're glazed with egg white, and I decided they also would benefit from a sprinkle of sesame or poppy seeds, and just enough kosher salt to give them a little bite.



To make the biga:

Mix by hand, mixer, or food processor:

1/4 tsp. active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water

3/4 cup plus 1 Tb. plus 1 tsp. room temp. water (weird measurement, I agree)

330g unbleached all-purpose flour

Let the yeast stand in the warm water about 10 minutes.  Add remaining water, then the flour, a cup at a time.  Rise the biga in a covered bowl at room temp. for 6 to 24 hours.  Then you can refigerate or freeze it till you need it, or you could use it immediately after it's risen, I suppose.


To make the rosettes:

1 tsp. active dry yeast

2 Tb. warm water

1/2 cup olive oil (the recipe wants 1/4 cup lard and 1/4 cup olive oil)

3 Tb. sugar

500g biga

300g unbleached all-purpose flour

5g salt

1 beaten egg white for glazing

Combine yeast and 2 Tb. water in a large bowl.  Let stand about 10 minutes.  Add oil, sugar, and biga.  Mix by hand or in a mixer till biga and liquids are fairly well blended.  Add flour and salt and mix or knead until dough comes together.  Knead by hand (8-10 minutes) or mixer (3-4 minutes on low speed) until dough is moist and elastic.  I used a Bosch mixer, and on low speed, the dough really didn't come together well.  After a couple of minutes, I finished kneading it by hand.

Put the dough in a bowl rise, covered with plastic or whatever.  Let rise about 2 hours, at approx. 75 degrees F.



Dump the dough onto a lightly floured counter and pat or roll to 3/4 inch thick (mine were thinner, maybe 1/2 inch).  Use whatever you have to cut out a circle of dough, about 3-5 inches in diameter, depending on whether you want small rolls or sandwich buns.  Here's the tricky part, so read it a few times:

Assuming you're right handed, place your left thumb at the 9 o'clock position of the dough circle, with the end of the thumb in the middle of the circle.  Use the other hand to roll the dough from the 12 o'clock position down to the thumb.  Rotate the dough clockwise until the left 'point' of the roll that you just made is at the 12 o'clock position.  Place your left thumb again at 9 o'clock and roll that section of the dough down again toward your thumb.  Rotate and repeat the rolling until you have a sort of kaiser-type of roll shape, with leaves or petals of dough on top of the roll, or whatever you can describe them as.  Press down the middle of the roll to ensure the 'leaves' stay put.  I decided that as long as the rolls weren't flat, I was in the ballpark.  I didn't take photos of this step, since, not knowing how yummy they'd be, I had no idea I'd be posting anything!

Place the rolls on a lightly oiled or parchment covered baking sheet.  Cover with plastic or a towel, and let rise till doubled, approx. 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours.  In the last 15-20 minutes of the rise, turn the oven on to 400F.  When the oven is ready, brush the rolls with beaten egg white.  Add any toppings you desire.  Bake about 20 minutes.  I rotated the pan halfway through baking.  Mmmmmmmmmm!!!




dmsnyder's picture

Biscotti di Greve in Chianti


Carol Field is probably best known as the author of The Italian Baker. While it was first published in 1985, twelve years after Beard on Bread, it was certainly at the leading edge of the artisan bread movement in America. It is still frequently cited as the best book on Italian baking ever published in this country. I have never seen The Italian Baker, and my searches for it found it to be out of print with used copies selling for high prices. I'm delighted to have discovered, just yesterday, that it has been revised and is currently scheduled to be released in November, 2011. (The Italian Baker, Revised: The Classic Tastes of the Italian Countryside--Its Breads, Pizza, Focaccia, Cakes, Pastries, and Cookies)

Carol Field has written several other cook books, an Italian travel book and a novel. I checked out her book, Italy in Small Bites, from the library this week. It is a book of Italian between meal snack foods, although many are considerably more substantial in both calories and nutritional value than what we think of as “snacks” in the US. Field's writing about the place of these foods in Italian culture is quite fascinating for anyone interested in food and culture. (DaisyA! If you haven't read this book, you must!) But, no more about that now.

I had the afternoon off and looked for something from Italy in Small Bites I could bake before dinnertime. I chose “Biscotti di Greve in Chianti.” I've never met a biscotto I didn't like, but my wife has a dislike of anise flavored cookies, so the type of biscotti with which I was most familiar was out. These biscotti, which Field had from a bakery in Greve are flavored with almonds, vanilla and orange zest, all of which we like. The recipe was also attractive in that it is mixed in a food processor and seemed quick and easy.

Biscotti di Greve in Chianti


2 cups (280 g) unbleached AP flour

1 cup sugar

1 tsp baking soda

Pinch salt

2 eggs, room temperature

1 egg yolk, room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp grated orange zest

1 ½ cups dry roasted almonds

1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp water for glaze


  1. Measure the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt into the bowl of a food processor with the metal blade and pulse to mix thoroughly.

  2. Mix the eggs, egg yolk, vanilla extract and orange zest in a two cup measuring cup.

  3. With the processor running, pour the liquids over the dry ingredients through the feed tube. Mix to a shaggy mass, not until a ball forms.

  4. Pour half the almonds into the ball and pulse a few times. Repeat with the rest of the almonds.

  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured board and press it into a coherent mass. (This is the hardest step. I used my hands and a bench knife to fold the dough, which started out as discrete granules of dough mixed with nut fragments, into something that stuck together after folding and pressing repeatedly.)

  6. Preheat the oven to 325ºF.

  7. Divide the dough into 2 or 3 parts and form each into a log, 2 inches across. Brush each log with the glaze. Place the logs, at least 3 inches apart, on a buttered and floured sheet pan or on sheet pan lined with parchment.

  8. Bake 25-30 minutes until light golden brown.

  9. Remove from the oven to cool, but leave the oven on.

  10. Once the logs are cool enough to handle, slice each at an angle into ¾ inch thick cookies, using a serrated knife, and lay them on a lightly buttered cookie sheet.

  11. Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes on each side until golden.

  12. Cool (and dry) before eating (If you can. I found that snacking on the log ends during the second baking assisted with this step.)

These biscotti are very tasty. They are less sweet than most, with a nice almond flavor. The orange flavor is very subtle. I haven't tasted them yet dipped in cappuccino or in wine, but I think that's how to enjoy them best.




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