The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Tuscan Bread

varda's picture
varda

Tuscan Bread

Recently my husband announced that he needed to cut way back on salt in his diet, and after quizzing me about the bread I've been baking, determined that he needed to cut way back on my bread.   Given that he's my principal guinea pig (I mean recipient, I mean,... oh forget it)  I viewed this as a setback.   After some thought though I realized it was an opportunity.   And so ...  Tuscan bread.



I used the recipe from King Arthur http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/tuscan-bread-pane-toscano-recipe with a few tweaks.  There is no salt in this whatsoever.   I was expecting it to taste drab and dull, and to sag and look awful.   But no - just a nice simple white bread, and tasty too, with a distinctive taste, that I wouldn't necessarily have attributed to lack of salt without knowing that was the "missing" ingredient.   The crumb is nothing to write home about:



but the crust is very crisp and nice (I don't recall ever making anything like it before) and I even got a visit from the crackle fairy who has been boycotting me no matter what I do:


Comments

Crider's picture
Crider

Since Pane Toscano is supposed to be a bit heavy anyway. I think your results look fine!

varda's picture
varda

Thank you.   I ate Tuscan bread 20 years ago at the source, but wasn't that interested in bread at that point so don't remember it or what it's like.   Glad to know that I didn't hit to far from the mark.  -Varda

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

I have to say that saltless bread is not exactly my passion, on the contrary...but your looks MUCH better than typical tuscan bread in italy. Your crust has a perfect color and thickness, the crumb looks creamy and not at all massive. Maybe a bit spongy? I love that kind of consistence.


Maybe your flour helped you significantly. With a typical italian flour it's not at all easy getting a saltless bread as great as yours.


Since Tuscany is round the corner I can assure you that your bread would make envy!

varda's picture
varda

Thank you.   I did some research before making this, and one of the things I read is that you can't call it Tuscan bread unless you use the same flour used in Tuscany (I didn't get far enough to find out exactly what that is - would it be something like 00 flour?)   I used King Arthur All Purpose, so I figured that I was as far from authentic as you could get.   Before baking, I read the paragraph in Hamelman about the need for salt in the fermenting process, so was quite pessimistic going in.   I'm definitely not giving up salted breads but I can keep a loaf of something like this around as well. 

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

The flour typically used for tuscan bread is called "buratto" that is a higher extraction soft wheat flour than 00, more or less equivalent to second clear flour. It contains at least a part of the wheat germ, but no bran if I remember correctly.

varda's picture
varda

I'll try it to see what the real thing is supposed to be.   I just noticed that there is a shop nearby called All Things Italian (actually the shop name is in Italian but I can't remember the words.)   I guess it's hoping too much that one of those things would be flour. 

Syd's picture
Syd

Great job, Varda!   I have a recipe for Tuscan bread in one of my baking books but I have never made it because it doesn't look half as appetizing as you have made it look. 


Syd

varda's picture
varda

I appreciate your comments.   Hope you give it a try. -Varda

MadAboutB8's picture
MadAboutB8

Nice bread Varda.


How did you find the fermentation without salt? I made potato bread roll last night and reduced half amount of salt in the recipe (as I also include cheddar cheese in the roll, hence lower salt). The fermentation rate was almost doubled. Recipe suggested two hours fermentation at 25C. Mine was double in size in less than 1.5 hr, at 20C.


And I figured that it could be the result of less salt in the dough.


Sue


http://youcandoitathome.blogspot.com

varda's picture
varda

The first rise was 1 hour and so was the proof so that is much faster than the sourdough breads I usually make which can run five or six hours from mix to oven.    I think a salted yeast bread would be more like 2 hours for bulk ferment and 1 for proof?  I couldn't really tell any difference between this and a salted bread based on anything other than taste and time  It had beautiful oven spring and colored nicely.   Hamelman credits salt with flavor (check) strengthening the gluten so that the loaf attains full volume (couldn't see the difference) slowing down the yeast activity (which is why I guess these breads rise pretty quickly) and contributing to crust color (again, couldn't see the difference.)   But he starts off the discussion by saying that back in the day people didn't generally use salt in bread.  So maybe it's just a question of what we're used to.  -Varda 

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hello Varda,
That is a nice crackled crust! You've baked a really good-looking bread.
from breadsong

varda's picture
varda

I think usually my crust is too thick and chewy to crackle and this is thin and crisp, which is why I suppose it cracked like that.   Thanks for your support.  -Varda

Crider's picture
Crider

In case anybody is interested, last spring I did a lot of googling and bookmarked several pane toscano recipes. A lot of them are translated from Italian.


Consortium for the Promotion and Protection of Tuscan bread sourdough


Bubbles n Squeaks blog recipe


Proffumi in Cucina . . . blog recipe


Il Mondo de Luvi blog recipe. The blog is excellent and is filled with all sorts of great cooking.


Kata Web blog recipe


Bontâlandia blog recipe


L'antro dell' Alchimista blog recipe


Cookaround.com This is an interesting technique. The baker makes the dough into an individual 'package' in floured cloth. I tried this and it was great. WHen I was ready to bake, I unwrapped the cloth and the dough expanded like a sponge in front of my eyes.


The Artisan. Many of you have visited this site


Enjoy!





varda's picture
varda

Next time I'll try one of these.  Thanks for posting. -Varda

louie brown's picture
louie brown

We ate this bread quite a lot in Tuscany when I was younger. It was explained to us that salt was expensive and Tuscans were poor, hence the absence of the ingredient. Conversely, you would find plenty of salt in Venice, which was rich and had for a long time a monopoly on salt in the Adriatic.


It's an acquired taste, but if the bread itself is good, it can be a useful table bread, with that peppery Tuscan olive oil, or as a base for chicken liver crostini, for example. It's also a good point of departure when grilled, with a rub of garlic and some tomatoes and basil.


 

varda's picture
varda

for the serving suggestions.   I had it for breakfast this morning  toasted with butter and that was plenty good.  But garlic, tomato, basil?   I can't wait for summer.   -Varda

plevee's picture
plevee

From my vacations in Tuscany I found that Tuscan bread would be rock hard, barely suitable for toast within one day. Salt keeps bread from drying out as well as improving flavour. Patsy

chicogander's picture
chicogander

I was delighted to see Varda's post as I  am now pursuing salt free bread and will try every option.  Yesterday, I used the long hydration method (Lahey's pot bread) to produce a spelt / bread flour loaf.  It worked with just a little boost from the spelt.  I'm looking for what else I can try.   Jerry Anderson

varda's picture
varda

any good saltless breads.   Can always use more.   Thanks.  -Varda 

Antilope's picture
Antilope

Here is a working link to the original recipe at the King Arthur Flour website:

Tuscan Bread (Pane Toscano)

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/tuscan-bread-pane-toscano-recipe