Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Pane Di Como Antico O Pane Francese

I got the motivation to try my hand at baking an Italian bread after dining at an Italian restaurant in Omaha, NE on Friday night. The food was very good but the bread sticks should have been an embarrassment to the establishment. They were bland and soft as American white bread from a supermarket.

The formula for this loaf is derived from Carol Fields "The Italian Baker". I tweaked the formula by using a starter of the same weight and hydration as the biga that she utilized. I also added a smidgeon of active dry yeast to the main dough to help move the proofing stage along. Ms Fields prefers using an overnight proof in a refrigerator but I needed a loaf for this morning so I went on my own road there with a room temperature proofing. The pictures don't lie about the loaf being under proofed but the bread was still more than good enough to eat. The ADY didn't affect the flavor in the least. The formula, for a smaller loaf than Ms Fields' suggested size, is good as is.
That doesn't excuse me from more homework in shaping and slashing or judging the readiness for baking.

Pane Di Como Antico

144 g at 82% hydration

Main Dough
348 g bread flour
52 g whole wheat flour
280 g water at 92F
8 g kosher salt
1/8 tsp (0.63 ml) active dry yeast

1. Prepare starter.
2. Hydrate ADY in water for about 10 minutes.
3. Add starter, flours, water-yeast solution to mixer bowl. Mix briefly, up to 1 minute, to a shaggy mass. Cover mixer bowl and rest for 20 minutes.
4. Mix for 3 minutes at first speed.
5. Add salt and use a spatula to quickly stir in some of the salt.
6. Mix at second speed for 4 minutes. The dough should clear the bowl, leaving only a small strand attached to the bottom of the bowl.
7. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, knead briefly, and place in an oiled container. Cover and bulk ferment for three hours with stretch and folds at 60 and 120 minutes.
8. Turn out dough and preshape. Cover and rest for 15 minutes. Shape and place in a brotform or on a couche, seam side up. Proofing in a refrigerator is suggested by Ms Fields, the developer of this formula, but I proofed for 2 1/2 hours at 70F before loading into the oven.
9. Preheat oven and baking stone to 450F. 
10. When dough is proofed, place on peel and slash before loading. Spritz the top of the loaf with water lightly and place in oven.
11. Bake at 450F for 15 minutes. Turn the loaf around, lower the oven to 425F, and bake for 20-22 minutes. Loaf is done when the internal temperature is 205F.
12. Cool on a wire rack for at least 3 hours before serving.

On a lighter note, I've been accepted into the Master Food Volunteer Program sponsored by the Kansas State University Research and Extension Service. I don't expect to exclusively do bread baking projects but do hope to get the opportunity so I can use some of the skills that I picked up for my degree in Elementary Education during my overextended adolescence period in my life. The idea of teaching adults who want and expect to learn something is somewhat daunting after 42 years out of the classrooms and halls of academia. On the other hand, it does sound like fun.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

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