The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pane di Como Antico from The Italian Baker

Skibum's picture

Pane di Como Antico from The Italian Baker

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


isand66's picture

Welcome aboard!

Your bread looks nice and tasty with a nice open crumb and good crust.

thanks for sharing.


dabrownman's picture

sure turned out well. Love the crumb abd crust.  Italians sure love their breads made with biga - as do the rest of us..


emiliang's picture

I made the same recipe and had the same experience -- three hours into the fermentation, and nothing! Did a search, pulled up your post, and followed your advice to just wait. Indeed, twelve hours later it was ready to be shaped. Since it was already evening, I ended up putting it in the fridge overnight and shaping it the next morning. 

The upside of the long wait was that it yielded the best tasting bread I have ever prepared using commercial yeast. In fact, I am still kind of amazed that 1/16th of a teaspoon of yeast can raise two large loaves like these.

Skibum's picture

. . . this bread!  Now I will have to go to the library and retrieve "The Italian Baker," and try this recipe once again.  This is an AMAZING web site and am regularly, pleasantly surprised!

Bake ON!  Brian

georganne's picture

Hi, bakers! I'm new to this blog, and excited to find a forum to help me with my breads. I've been "hitting a lick" at baking for a number of years, but still consider myself a rank beginner. Here's my problem just now: new stove is a DCS gas range. I'm NOT using convection for the bread [any more], but am new at using gas in the oven instead of a dual fuel range.

My ciabattas  and boules look come out looking like little monsters with protrusions here and there. They fail to keep their intended shapes. The baguettes look better, but still not right. Any suggestions? The exhaust fan comes out of the top above the burners.

Thank you for the great reflections above and the intriguing recipes. You inspire  me to put my apron on and get busy! gh