The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Marcella Hazan

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When I first baked bread back in the late '70's, one of my favorites was the “Pane all'Olio” or “Mantovana Bread” from Marcella Hazan's “More Classic Italian Cooking.” Even then, Hazan referred to this bread as one that “used to be common” in Northern Italy. I have no idea how common it is today. Perhaps Giovanni (JoeV on TFL) can tell us.


The Pane all'Olio is a low-hydration bread. In Hazan's recipe, half the flour is in a biga which has the same hydration as the final dough. I had some biga naturale left over from the Sourdough Italian Bread I made yesterday, so I decided to use it to make a sourdough version of Pane all'Olio. I did boost the hydration from 56% to 61%, to suit my taste. The dough is still very much drier than that of most breads I've been baking recently. Otherwise, I maintained Hazan's ingredient proportions.


The procedure for making this bread is unusual in that, after the biga is added and the dough kneaded, it is allowed to ferment until doubled, then divided and shaped and baked, without proofing. It has a long bake in a relatively cool oven, to give it a thick, crunchy crust.



Biga:

Baker's %

Weight

Flour

100

314.76

Water

75

236.07

Salt

0

0

Yeast

0

0

Starter

50

157.38

 

 

708.21

The biga can be made the night before the baking day and fermented for 12 hours at room temperature. It can also be made the day before, fermented for 12 hours and then refrigerated overnight. If refrigerated, you should let it warm up for an hour at room temperature before mixing the dough.

 

Final Dough:

Baker's %

Weight

Flour

100

314.76

Water

47

147.94

Salt

2

12.59

Olive oil

3

18.89

Yeast

0

0

Pre-Ferment

200

550.83

 

 

1045

Note: The original starter is backed out of the biga before mixing with the other Final Dough ingredients.

Note: Recommend reducing the salt to 1.8%.

 

Procedures

  1. The day before baking, mix the biga ingredients and ferment.

  2. On the day of baking, disperse the biga in the Final Dough water.

  3. Add the flour, salt and Olive Oil and mix thoroughly, using the paddle blade on a stand mixer.

  4. Mix at Speed 2 until moderate gluten development.

  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured board and give it a couple stretch and folds.

  6. Form the dough into a ball, and place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover tightly.

  7. Ferment the dough until doubled in volume. About 3 hours.

  8. About an hour before baking, pre-heat the oven to 450ºF with a baking stone and your steaming apparatus in place.

  9. Transfer the dough back to the board, divide it into two equal pieces and form each into a loaf. Hazan describes the loaf as “a thick, cigar-shaped roll, plump at the middle, slightly tapered at the ends, and about 7 to 8 inches long.”

  10. Pre-steam your oven.

  11. Transfer the loaves to a peel. Make a single lengthwise slash along the top of each, about an inch deep.

  12. Transfer the loaves to the baking stone and steam the oven.

  13. Bake for 12 minutes at 450ºF.

  14. After 12 minutes, turn the oven down to 375ºF and bake for 45 minutes more, or until the loaves are done.

  15. Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack and cool completely (at least two hours) before slicing and serving.

 

 

The loaf had a nice crunchy crust. The crumb was tender. The flavor was “good,” but, besides being a bit salty to my taste, it seemed rather dull and uninteresting compared to the breads I've been making and eating of late. (My wife's comment was, “It's good … but ... not like your other bread.”)

Arrrrgh! My palate is ruined for white bread!

Oh, well. One must always have a back-up. Mine actually came out of the oven before the Pane all'Olio was baked.

 

The Cinnamon-Raisin-Walnut Bread from BBA is always a palate pleaser at our house. (My wife's comment was, “Did you leave some out for breakfast?”)

David

 

 

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