The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Italian Bread / Soft Bread

ItalianHomeBaker's picture

Italian Bread / Soft Bread

I loved the first loaf if Italian Bread I baked.  My Mom commented that she recalled my grandmother's bread being softer (less dense, having more large holes in a slice).  She also mentioned that she didn't recall grandma doing the punch down after the 1st rising.  She just let it rise once and then formed her loaves to rise before baking.  Do you think this would make more holes in the loaf and/or achieve a softer loaf?  It's not that the twice kneaded loaves I baked were hard.  But my bread thus far is uniform with small holes, so it's more chewy although moist.

flournwater's picture

There's more to texture in a finished loaf of bread than whether or not it's "punched" down after initial fermentation.  How roughly it's handled.  For example, "punch down" is, IMO, misused when applied to bread baking  -  a kinder gentler method of degassing that can be controlled seems to work better.  The ingredients in the recipe will certainly affect the texture.  "Italian" bread varies from region to region so, without seeing the recipe you're using, it's difficult to determine if one of your ingredients is getting in the way of allowing you to achieve your goal.  The degree of hydration, length of fermentation, length of proofing, oven temperature and oven environmental conditions other than temperature and kneading (did I leave anything out?) can also affect the texture.

valerie51's picture

The wetter the dough, the bigger air holes you will have in it.

ehanner's picture

I really like the flavor and aroma of Italian bread. I usually make the recipe from the BBA with biga. It uses milk, malt powder, a small amount of sugar and oil.

The one thing I don't care for in this bread is that it is so uniform, especially when I make rolls. I use AP flour instead of bread flour so it will be softer inn crumb. The shaping degases the 4 oz rolls for the most part. Even after a full proof, the crumb is very even and perfect for a sandwich or Hogie bun.

If I want to open up the crumb on this bread, I would do a few things. First would be to use water instead of milk. Second would be to use a stronger flour. Those 2 changes shift it more toward a French type bread.