The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Genzano Disaster

BreadManiac's picture

Genzano Disaster

Today I tried the Genzano Country Bread recipe from Daniel Leaders's new book "Local Breads"

Even though he talked about how very wet this dough was, nothing could have prepared me for what happened next. (See attached pictures below)

Following the recipe, I kneaded the dough for about 25 minutes in a standing mixer, let it ferment for the appropriate time, poured it onto the counter and shaped into loaves. The dough was so wet I actually ended up have to use Bertinet's dough slapping method to shape it into anything resembling a boule.

Any ideas what went wrong??

(sorry these photos are sideways!)



This dough is very wet

Window Pane Test

Bread is baking but very flat

Finished bread is really, really skinny

crunchy's picture

I baked this bread last week and had very few problems -- possibly because I had just baked some ciabattas that were even wetter. My guess is that the dough wasn't kneaded for long enough and the gluten wasn't developed fully. My dough was very wet, but very very elastic and did not stick much. How much did you knead it for and did you do it by hand or with a stand mixer?

sheffield's picture
sheffield (not verified)

"I kneaded the dough for about 25 minutes in a standing mixer"

mcs's picture

Here's a thread by zolablue about that bread.  I haven't read the whole thing, but maybe there's some insight on there you might find helpful.


proth5's picture

25 minutes is quite a long time to knead in a standing mixer.  I don't have the book or the formula that you reference, but in general 2-3 minutes at "first speed" (depending on your mixer, the speed a little above the lowest speed) and 3-5 minutes at "second speed" (slightly above the middle speed) should be sufficient for many breads.

It is possible with a good mixer to overmix and degrade the gluten in the flour.

Perhaps you should review the mixing directions.  More is not always better.

With very high hydration doughs it is often better to do the mix and then add strength by folding during the bulk ferment.  You might wish to consider that.

Hope this is helpful.

crunchy's picture

Re-reading your post, you do say that you kneaded in a stand mixer, but don't mention the speed. I kneaded mine on KA speed 6 for about 15-20 minutes until it cleared the sides and the bottom of the bowl. Lower speeds may require even more time.

BreadManiac's picture

Thanks to everyone for your comments!

I should have mentioned that I kneaded it in a Hobart mixer on high speed. So it sounds like perhaps the gluten got overworked. This is my first experience kneading dough this long.

I will try again tomorrow morning with less kneading and a little less water and will post some pictures. Hopefuly the pictures won't be as embarassing as these were!

Eli's picture

and be not embarrased!! I could show you some photos of some really big mistakes. I should post them too! Maybe we should ask Floyd for a Blooper Section to post the funnies!!


Atropine's picture

I think a blooper section would be phenomenal--or at least a blooper thread.  I think it would give newbies an idea of what can go wrong AND that you can still make wonderful bread, BUT still have occasional disasters. 

I think it would take a lot of the pressure off of people new to breadmaking (which SEEMS to be such a daunting task!).  TFL always has such beautiful pictures of such beautiful loaves that somehow are never bricks, are never soup, never get stuck to the dog, nor require a belt sander to get off of the bottom of the oven.

Janedo's picture

I make this bread (or a version of it) quite often. It depends on the flour you use. It uses high gluten flour and is really great with some rye in there. The dough is wet, but of you watch it while kneading, it pulls in to a ball after a certain amount of pretty fast speed kneading. When you stop the machine, the dough slides down to the bottom of the bowl. So, watch it and with wet hands, do a windowpane check now and then. Since the dough is wet, it makes literally a sheet! If you didn't watch the dough while the machine turned, you may have missed the critical stage and got over-worked gluten. So, just make sure you're using good quality flour and watch the process. It should then work for you.


BreadManiac's picture

I attempted this recipe again and got better results, though not perfect...

For some reason I've never had much luck with sourdoughs. The dough rose beautifully initially (doubled within an hour), and following the recipe I turned it over to rise for another hour (after which it had doubled again). But once it was shapped it too a very long time to proof (2 hours) and didn't double. Is it possible that the rising power of the yeast and ferment had been used up?



ericb's picture

The crumb is how I image a "country loaf" should be: fairly dense and perfectly suited for sandwiches.

You're probably right about over-proofing. Two hours seems like a long time to me. Proofing is tricky, but I almost always under-proof, and I never expect the dough to double. I like to test the dough by poking my finger 1/4 inch into it. If an indention remains, it probably doesn't need to proof any longer.

Could you post a few more details, such as the formula and type of flour?

I don't have this book, but I find it surprising that your dough doubled within an hour. I'm lucky if my sourdough doubles under six hours.


crunchy's picture

Pane di Genzano crumb


This is what my pane di Genzano looks like.