Sunday, February 24, 2008

"Royal Crown Tortano Bread" a "BBB" Event

When I found Ilva of Lucullian Delights's post about her joining a new group(BBB) , I perked up with interest to see what this gifted, prolific food photographer and blogger was up to this time. When she said bread, I was pretty sure I was in. I was even more relieved to learn that it was a closed group, but others were encouraged to bake along and become baking buddies. Sounds good to me. I have commitment phobia, although I do like to drop in and join in some of the food blogger events I have come across. I try to stay on track with my northern Italian theme here on my blog, so when the first bread they are making is an artisan Italian bread, I knew I wanted to join in at least this once, we shall see how my time and all these different events pan out, but I do think they sometimes put just enough self induced pressure on me to get on with some experiments I wanted to do all along. This appealing event was conjured up by Tanna of "My Kitchen in Half Cups" and some of her baking buddies and you will find all the details here for the BBB and a list with links to the sites of the 12 disciples who are joining her on this journey. Her blog is interesting and I especially like her page with her kitchen gadgets, be sure not to miss it. I found her photos and comments informative and helpful. Karen of "Bake My Day", has been entrusted with rounding up the baking buddies. You will find a very detailed recipe for the Royal Crown Tortano here. The other great benefit of these type of events is that you discover other sites and interesting people in the blog-o-sphere to check to boot.
Baking "Royal Crown Tortano", lived up to the hype of all the praise that I read on the different sites had showered upon it. Looking at the holey texture and dark brown crust, I was hooked. We had guests arriving so I figured it was a good chance to try it out. Being forewarned that this was a very wet dough, I knew it would be a bit of a challenge, but sticky wet doughs don't scare me, I was up for the challenge. Wellll.... maybe I will just make the no knead loaf also, that I know always turns out no matter what abuse I subject it to, just in case things don't quite work out as planned. I've baked a lot of bread both at home and commercially, but super wet, artisan doughs have their own personalities, and I found that it's always been my preference to do them at home. Too many variables in a high altitude ski resort bakery where the staff changes every season or more depending on everything. I could tell some stories about running a high altitude bakery with inexperienced 18-24 year old ski bums and boarder dudes and bettys. but that is another blog. You need continuity and consistency to take you down the road to success with wet dough. I say all that knowing that each time I make this bread, it will improve with experience, but I must say, it was surprisingly tolerant.

I used the metric measurements as I have a nifty new scale that works beautifully. I did however put just a few grams over the amount of water and failed to correct my slight over measurement of water. So much for handy dandy scale if you don't actually believe it when it tells you that you are a few grams over the recipe amount and adjust it. I knew immediately that my dough was too slack, especially after seeing Tanna's photos of her raw dough. Tanna's had more body to it, but I decided to go ahead even though I knew it was going to be tough to make the dough do as I wanted it to.

Let's just say that I made a fiddly recipe more fiddly, but that inaccurate measure, but I was pleased with the results. I say all of that to encourage you not to lose heart if yours goes all wobbly. I didn't add more flour, but I was rather generous with my dusting of flour when I turned the dough the first four times. When I reached the turning it out onto the and shaping the dough, it was very floppy and wouldn't old it's shape very well and I started to lose heart, but I continued to gingerly push it back into shape sometimes tucking some of the dough underneath, always being careful not to deflate the dough or over handle it. When I finally flipped it onto my baking stone, it lost a bit of it's shape, and looked pretty much like a flat tire. I was resigned at this point to having flat bread for the evenings offering. But lo and behold when I returned to have a peek, it had puffed up nicely, even if it was somewhat like an inner tube that has a bulge on it on one side. It didn't matter, because the taste was heavenly, the crust, crispy the first day and wonderfully chewy the next. Fabrizio my "pane" inhaling man, loved it and we almost inhaled it before getting any decent pictures. I definitely recommend trying this bread to feel like an old world Italian baker.
Ve la raccomando!

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