Friday, February 16, 2018

The Big Ten And A Crown

Ten years ago, a small group of beautiful, brave babes baked bread together and thus was born the Bread Baking Babes. To celebrate all of those years of friendship, fun, and baking all kinds and shapes of bread together, with some Babes taking a break and some new ones being invited to join in, this month we baked one of the earliest breads, the Royal Crown Tortano. Happy Anniversary to us!

This lovely artisan bread includes the humble potato. If you have never baked a yeasted, kneaded bread with potato in it, you may not know that often the potato leads to a sticky times it almost seems liquid and like it has a mind of its own. It also helps to make a flavorful, moist bread and one that seems to keep a bit longer, too.

Our Kitchen of the Month is Tanna of My Kitchen in Half Cups blog, one of the original Babes. The badge is by Lien of Notitie van Lien, another one of the original Babes. If you ask them, they might explain about the bottle on the back bench...or not.

I enjoyed making this bread and noticed that when I mixed in the potato, honey and salt that the fairly stiff dough became very loose, which was a pretty amazing transformation. I did get decent if not spectacular oven spring and also, because I baked it on parchment, but with a perforated pizza sheet below the parchment, the bread had a really nice lower crust. I put the pizza pan there because I was worried about some of the dough taking off and dripping over the side of the parchment. The dough, parchment, pizza pan sandwich was also laid directly on a preheated baking stone. That helps with a good bottom crust, too.  As usual my skills in scoring need improvement. You can barely see where I scored the cross. I did use the potato water and I did weight the ingredients, using grams. A good scale with a tare feature is your friend if you like to bake.

Look at this bottom crust!

Delicious bread; a keeper. Makes a great base for avocado toast, among other things.

Be sure to check out the other Babes to see what their Crown looks like and to congratulate them on this round number anniversary!

To be a Buddy, bake the bread, take a photo, post about it and send Tanna an email with the URL, photo, etc. by Feb.28.

Now bake this bread, please! It is worth every moment.

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 forment 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 in the 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
% Water, including the potato water 
0.15% yeast 
2% honey
10% potato puree
2.4% salt 


  1. Your Tortano is beautiful! And I love the exultation of dough in your anniversary image at the bottom of the post. Brilliant!

    Happy 10th Anniversary!

    (Sticky dough, eh? I wish I knew WHAT I did wrong. My dough was so decidedly dry that I had to add extra water!)

  2. I need to learn about the bottle on the back bench! I loved reading this post!

  3. My mother always used potato water in her bread - but never actual potatoes lol
    Happy Anniversary and lovely bread to celebrate with

  4. That tortano looks really nice and rustic. Great idea to use a pizza pan to get a lovely crust on the bottom.
    Happy anniversary!

  5. The transformation of bread amazes me every time I bake. Happy 10th Anniversary!

  6. Brilliant bottom crust indeed! And avocado toast, you are making me hungry!