The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bread Blues

SallyBR's picture

Bread Blues

Well, sometimes I share victories, but today it's not the case. I am feeling quite miserable about bread baking this weekend.

where do I start?

I am a HUGE Hamelman & Dan Lepard's fan. Every single bread I made from their books turned out great. Then I bought Local Breads and fell in love with the book, read it beginning to end, could not wait to try my first recipe.

I picked "Como Bread", for those who have the book, it is on page222 

it takes a biga that sits overnight in the fridge, and is used for a high hydration dough, to be mixed by the Kitchen Aid, preferably.


Friday eve I made the biga. Saturday morning started the bread - it rises first for 2 - 2.5 hs until doubled in volume. Formed into a ball, rises 1-1.5 hs more, into the oven it goes. I went to the farmers market during the first rise, got distracted, but came back after 2 hs. The dough had already apparently risen and collapsed. I decided to go ahead, shape it and bake it. Result: pancake city!  Flattish looking ball, very very tight crumb (the book mentions very airy crumb, which was what I was hoping for)


I was disappointed, but decided that the best approach would be to make it again right away, being careful about all the timing, catching the dough before it collapsed. Made another biga yesterday, a second batch of dough today. Result: PANCAKE CITY.  Much worse than yesterday, it is pretty much like a frisbee. Crumb not as tight, but... pathetic anyway.


Has anyone made this bread? Could there be something wrong with the recipe? I make plenty of good loaves, my oven is the correct temperature, this time I even went through the trouble of heating the thing for a long time as called for in the recipe.... my yeast is very active, I used filtered water, the biga and the dough both behaved more or less as described in his book.


any advice is more than welcome.... or a baker's shoulder to cry on    :-)

Rosalie's picture

Sally, check out this thread:

There are a few errors in Leader's book.  I believe the errors are mostly conversion errors, and if you stick with the metric you're ok.  But I could be wrong on that, too.

My mother's family came from Lake Como.  I should look at this recipe.  In whole wheat, of course.


SallyBR's picture

Thanks, Rosalie!

amazing thread indeed! I did not see anything specific about the Como bread, but I do think now, seeing the pictures from the reply below, that maybe his description of the bread was not that accurate. I will reply below


(can you imagine publishing a book with the help of plenty of "testers" and then find out so many boo=boos?  wow! must be tough)

Paddyscake's picture

There is nothing more frustrating then being psyched for a new recipe, spending the extra time and having a flop. We can all commiserate with you. I did see that janshoakim had success with Leader's Como, but then again, I think that's all he has is great success with everything.


SallyBR's picture

Thanks, Betty

I will go straight to the original thread and ask a few questions...


I was in such distress that I did not think about running a search in the forum for pane di como... :-)