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News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The Italian Baker

Skibum's picture

Double chocolate and sweet biscotti:

It ws time to bake another batch of DaveG's fabulous double chocolate, hazelnut, chipotle biscotti  and also try the seeet biscotti recipe he provided.  To the half batch of 2x choco, I added 1 tsp of expresso coffee powder, was out of hazelnuts, (aka filberts) and used alsonds instead.  The hazelnuts provide a better flavour balance to the cocolate and chipotle, but hey, almonds work too!

I have been working through Carol Field's, "The Italian Baker," and checked her biscotti recipe also, which looked much like Dave's.  In the end I used the TIB recipe because, horror of horrors, I had no lemon zest -- my only lemon had been previously zested!  Now the TIB recipe is forgiving in that you can use either lemon extract or zest and/or orange exract or zest. I used lemon extract and orange zest for half the batch and baked according to Daves's loaf style 2x bake instructions, rather than shape the TIB cookie rounds.   I have not been able to stay away from these biscotti, oh my do I love the subtle flavoring!

Today I added lemon zest and some chopped almonds to the last half of the sweet biscotti dough and baked it up.  The lemon zest kicks the flavour up a good notch or two.  I think next batch, I will do half with lemon zest and half with orange zest.  At the pace I am eating these things, I may have to do another batch in the morning, (oink, oink).  The TIB biscotti recipe is listed at the end of this post.

A little ciabatta and salami by the campfire:

The last camping days of the season are now but a distant memory that ski season.  The photo was taken at a campsite along The Icefields Parkway, in Banff, Alberta Canada.

Bake ON TFLoafers!  Brian

Biscotti, from The Italian Baker, by Carol Field

160 g unsalted butter

200 g sugar

1 Tbs honey

2 eggs room temperature

Cream sugar and butter and add eggs one at a time and cream.

1/3 C + 3 Tbs milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp orange extract or zest of 1/2 orange

1/2 tsp lemon extract or zest of 1 lemon

500 g flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

11/2 Tbs or so coarsly ground almonds to top

1 egg for glazing

I bake @ 300F 20 munites turning halfway, chill 15 munites or so then slice on the diagonal 3/4" thick, turn on sides and bake for 20 munites @ 300F turning halfway, then turn the slices over and bake for another 20.  Yumm

Skibum's picture

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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