Friday, February 16, 2018

10th Anniversary! Bread Baking Babes celebrate

This is the 10th Anniversary of our Babe-dom and aren’t we still looking cute? 10 years of baking bread together, every month one of us picks the next challenge and we bake, we try, we drink endless bottles of virtual wine. Same recipe, different kitchens, using local flour and sharing what we found. You can read all about our monthly recipe at the Kitchen of the Month, our individual posts to be found at our respective personal blogs. Every once in a while life has us take a place on the bench in the back (there where an extra bottle of spirits is taped under) but we bounce back and bake on. We’ve had Babes on Hiatus, Babes backing out for various life-living reasons. We were shocked to hear of the passing of one of our early Babes Sher.

Tanna and I started this from enjoying the Daring Bakers (remember?) and decided we wanted this club to stay small and together so there were the Baking Babes… and from it the Baking Buddies were born. Lien (Notitie van Lien) is the genius behind all the (Buddy) Badges and... drum roll; she baked ALL our challenges. I think that's worth a special mention!

Our first combined effort in February 2008 was a bread in the "wet dough spectrum"; specifically the Royal Crown Tortano. (Recipe Maggie Glezer’s Artisan Baking) Characteristics of this bread are a mild pre-ferment, the addition of a small amount of potato in the dough, very very long rising time but little handling of the dough, using the tiniest amount of yeast to produce a deep dark brown crusty loaf of bread. Above is how it looked back in 2008!

We decided to bake this iconic bread again for our 10th Anniversary! And this is how it looks like today:

So yes, this is a 74% liquid dough, silken and smooth and quite a challenge to handle. This time the hole in the middle closed up during baking, the crust as it should be, crackling and the crumb shot through with large holes. Dipped in olive oil…. or a lick of salted butter?
I've made this bread several times and already posted the recipe in Dutch and talked about the bread here and here. The recipe in English:
Royal Crown Tortano - revisited
(based on Karen's (Bake My Day) 2008 take on Maggie Glezer's recipe
Recipe Synopsis
The Evening Before Baking: Make the starter and if you like the mashed potato.
The Next Morning: Mix the dough and let it ferment for about 4 hours. Shape it, proof it for about 1 1/2 hours, and then bake the bread for about 45 minutes.
The Evening Before Baking: Making the Pre-Ferment:

Pre-Ferment Ingredients

1 gm (1/4 tsp) instant yeast
240gm (1 cup) water 105 - 115 degrees F
100gm (2/3 cup) unbleached bread flour
85gm (1 small) potato
Stir the yeast into the water in a glass measure and let it stand for 5 - 10 minutes. Add 1/3 cup of this yeasted water (discard the rest) to the flour and beat this very sticky starter until it is well combined. Cover with plastic wrap and let it ferment until it is full of huge bubbles and sharp tasting, about 12 hours. If your kitchen is very warm and the pre-ferment is fermenting very quickly, place it in the refrigerator after 3 hours of fermenting. In the morning, remove it and allow it to come to room temperature 30 minutes to an hour before beginning the final dough

Preparing the Potato:
For efficiency, you may want to prepare the potato the night before. Quarter it, then boil it in water to cover until it can be easily pierced with a knife tip, about 20 minutes. Drain; if desired, reserve the water for the dough. Press the potato through a ricer or sieve to puree it and remove the skin. Store it in a covered container in the refrigerator. You will need only 1/4 cup puree.

Bake Day: Mixing the Dough
Dough Ingredients
575gm  (3+3/4 cups) unbleached bread flour
420gm (1+3/4 cups plus 3 Tbsp) Water, including the potato water if desired, lukewarm
all of the pre-ferment
11gm (2 tsp) honey
60gm (1/4 cup packed) Potato puree
16gm (scant 1 Tbsp) salt

By Hand: Use your hands to mix the flour and water into a rough, very wet dough in a large bowl. Cover the dough and let rest (autolyse) for 10 - 20 minutes.
Add the pre-ferment, honey, potato, and salt, and knead the dough until it is smooth, 5 - 10 minutes. It will start off feeling rubbery, then break down into goo; if you persist, eventually it will come together into a smooth, shiny dough. If you do not have the skill or time to knead it to smoothness, the bread will not suffer. This is a tremendously wet and sticky dough, so use a dough scraper to help you but do not add more flour, for it will ruin the texture of the bread.
By Stand Mixer: With your hands or a wooden spoon, mix the flour and water into a rough, very wet dough in the work bowl of your mixer. Cover the dough and let it rest (autolyse) for 10 - 20 minutes.
Fit the mixer with the dough hook. Add the pre-ferment, honey, potato and salt and the mix the dough on medium speed for 15 - 20 minutes, or until very silky and wraps around the hook and cleans the bowl before splaterring back around the bowl. This dough is almost pourably wet.

Fermenting and Turning the Dough:
Shape the dough into a ball and roll it in flour. Place it in a container at least 3 times its size and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let it ferment until doubled in bulk and filled with large air bubbles, about 4 hours. Using plenty of dusting flour, turn the dough 4 times in 20 minute intervals, that is, after 20, 40, 60, and 80 minutes of fermenting, the leave the dough undisturbed for the remaining time. Do not allow this dough to over ferment or ferment to the point of collapse, for the flavor and structure of your bread will suffer.

Shaping and Proofing the Dough:
Turn the fermented dough out onto a well floured work surface, round it and let it rest for 20 minutes. Sprinkle a couche or wooden board generously with flour. Slip a baking sheet under the couche if you are using one for support.
Sprinkle a generous amount of flour over the center of the ball. Push your fingers into the center to make a hole, the rotate your hand around the hole to widen it, making a large 4 inch opening. The bread should have about 12 inch diameter.
Place the dough smooth side down on the floured couche or board and dust the surface with more flour. Drape it with plastic wrap and let it proof until it is light and slowly springs back when lightly pressed, about 1 1/2 hours.

Preheating the Oven:
Immediately after shaping the bread, arrange a rack on the oven's second to top shelf and place a baking stone on it. Clear away all the racks above the one being used. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (230 C)

Baking the Bread:
Unwrap the bread and flip it onto a floured peel or a sheet of parchment paper. Do not worry about damaging the bread as you handle it; it will recover int eh oven as long as it is not overproofed. Slash it with 4 radial cuts in the shape of a cross. Slide the loaf onto the hot baking stone and bake until it is very dark brown, 40 -50 minutes, rotating it halfway into the bake. Let the bread cool on a rack.

Baker's Percentages

100% unbleached bread flour
74% Water, including the potato water
0.15% yeast
2% honey
10% potato puree
2.4% salt
If you would like to become a Bread Baking Buddy, here’s how it works:
  • The Kitchen of the Month (Tanna this time!) will post the recipe and you'll find any information about due date for posting in their post.
  • Email The Kitchen of the month with your name and the link to the post.
  • Post your "baking the bread" experience on your blog mentioning Bread Baking Babes with a link to the Kitchen of the Month.
  • The Kitchen of the Month will put up a list of our Bread Baking Buddies at her site and send you a neat BBB award for this bread that you can then add to your post on your blog.

C'mon, you know you want one of those badges, so cleverly designed by Lien! (thanks Lien, you're a gem!)


  1. Happy anniversary to you Babe!
    This was and still is a wonderful recipe. Your bread with those great holes is just perfect!
    Thanks for having me baking with you :)

  2. Happy Birthday Babes!! I loved this first bread. It was so much work but worth it. Glad to know the bottle is still being put to good use on the back bench!

  3. Happy anniversary Karen. Your loaf looks amazing.

  4. Oh my! That small bowl of olive oil ... my bread is all gone. We had ours with salmon. I had it with butter. Gorn had it with honey. I need another loaf for olive oil! YES.
    Totally beautiful.
    So many memories.

  5. Wow Wow Wow

    I love the look of that crumb. And suddenly, I neeeeeeed a little bowl of olive oil too. (I know now what is going on the table for tonight's dinner!)

    Happy 10th Anniversary!!

  6. Hard to believe 10 years! Happy Anniversary!
    I wonder if the Daring Bakers are still around.....
    Lovely bread.

  7. Happy 10th Anniversary Karen! Your loaf looks wonderful! Thanks for revisiting this bread. It's a keeper!

  8. Happy Anniversary to one of the founders. It has been a joy to bake with you & the other Babes she Ver the years. Looking back at all the myriad breads baked one thing that continues to be true is that it is a bast to try new breads & to bake with y'all.
    Love the airy holes in this bread ! Olive oil sounds perfect with it. Let's bake it against n!

  9. I am in awe of your beautiful crumb, it is just to die for! I could sit down with half that loaf and have my way with it and a bit of dipping oil or butter.


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