The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

by Carol Field

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One of the things I have noted about TFL, is that most of the seriojus bakers have a blog.  I decided it would be a good place to document my various success and failure in the kitchen.  Since I baked my way through 20 kilos of strong bakers flour in 5 months, I now consider myself a 'serious' baker and so goes my blog.

I have had the original version of The Italian Baker from the library for a while now.  I have had some spectacular failures, along with some gratifying success.  The 'como Antica' is the best tasting bread I have ever produced.  Ariving there took a fairly significant departure from the printed sintructions!

The recipe calls for a 11/2 - 2 hour bulk rise, followed by shaping and proof for another 11/4 - 11/2 hours.  The above mis-shapen loaf is my first try.  I got very little bulk rise in 21/2 hours and little rise during the proof, but some pretty good spring, heartth baked.  The loaf split part way along the seam, which was baked up as per instructions.  Behind is pane di Como, a simple recipe from this book which ueilds great sandwich bread with little effort.

This was not a good result, so I thought I would make a new biga and start again in the morning.  Re-reading the recipe carefully, I noted she recommends using half the yeast in the biga for this bread.  The next morning after 14 hours or so the biga was bubbly and smelled great!  I proceeded to mix and knead.  After 21/2 hours of bulk ferment I didn't have an iota of rise, nor after 3 hours.  Rather than toss the effort, I did a stretch and fold, to re-distribute any available yeast and then forgot about it for the afternoon and evening.  By bed time it had risen 11/2 times and by the next morning had doubled or more.  I rested shaped and hearth baked and scored along the top of the loaf, trying to match the seam:

Nice crust, chewy crumb and great flavour!  I didn't need butter to savour this bread!  In the end, it needed a 24 hour bulk ferment and the patience was worth it.

I made a second attempt at the pane di Como Antico the next day with the 2 day old biga.  The result was the same:  a 24 hour bulk ferment, followed by a normal proof time and hearth baked.  Wonderful rich wheat flavour in this recipe!  This is my favoroute bread so far:  great fresh, toasted or for sandwiches.

Bake ON TFLoafers!  Brian

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