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A try at Genzano

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  • A try at Genzano

    While the Mid-West and Europe seem to be getting their time in with winter this week, we actually got a break with some brilliantly clear sunny winter days. A great chance to try out Daniel Leader's Genzano. So much for my New Years resolution of "no more bread books!", but after reading some old posts here and one by Jay on (authentic Genzano), I found myself pondering the recipe while flipping through my new library addition.

    This was Leader's plain vanilla Genzano, using my own wild yeast starter. He recommends really long and fast mixing times in a KA, but I feared for mine's safety, and limited it to 10 minutes. It seemed sufficient. He also calls for high gluten flour. I just had generic AP, so I added about a tbsp of gluten powder to the mix. The dough by the end of proofing was very airy and pillowy and was carried out in a colander, per Leaders directions.

    I took a lead from other posts here and tried the bake at a higher temp than I normally do. I usually shoot for 500*, but went in at about 560* this time. All I can say is Wow! I guess this is what they call sprung . (The beer bottle is for perspective only, I assure you ). Cooking times were also shortened from Leaders to about 35 minutes (he suggests 50, I think). The hardest part was leaving it in the oven as he recommends getting it as dark as possible (the outside is covered with bran, which darkens up). The crumb was much finer than I expected, almost, dare I say, Wonder Bread like in texture. A nice dense crust was really tasty too. We ate half of it with friends at dinner and it made a nice toast too this morning. I'll have to try the whole wheat version next.

  • #2
    Re: A try at Genzano


    Every time I have made Genzano I have used the full mixing time and ended up with a loaf that was a huge pillow - jiggled like jello as I worked with it and loaded it in the oven. And the final profile is as in the attached photo. Fairly open crumb... This is probably the tightest Genzano loaf I have made.

    I am mystified. I have never seen a loaf that erect! Or a Genzano with that tight crumb. You did enough "different" things that it is awkward to comment. One key item I think is that it appears you made a miniGenzano and this really wants to be a single big loaf as Leader describes. It will give better flavor. I hope you will try again. It is WONDERFUL bread!

    Good Luck!

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    • #3
      Re: A try at Genzano

      It definitely jiggled like jello :-). The size was that recommended from Leader, i.e. reduced down from the authentic loaf. How large was the one you had in Italy? I doubt my starter was the culprit, but the gluten flour may be. The timings and temps were on spec. Procedurally, the mixing time / speed and the oven temp were different. Do you feel the extended mix on this wet dough will over develop the gluten? I recall some posts over on TFL that used the reduced mixing time.


      • #4
        Re: A try at Genzano


        Try King Arther AP for the flour. It is a high protein AP and a low protein BF - sort of in the middle. It is what I have used. Tight crumb is usually overworked/mixed (combinaiton of dryer/too high protein/mixing time). Given your loaf didn't spread I don't think your short mix hurt. Rather I think you wound up with too much protein for the procedure described and that caused you to overmix. It obviously didn't spread much and that led it to go vertical! The lack of spread indicates it was pretty well developed. The extreme rise suggests to me that it is significantly underproofed. Surprised it didn't split. Must have had really good steam.

        I have actually used the mixing times in the book, but if I threw in some S&Fs I think I could do it on a somewhat shorter mix. Not sure how long. Haven't done Genzano since SFBI - and I continue to benefit from that. My touch is getting better and better. Would be fun to make a pillow again. I make the full loaf in Leader and it almost fills my oven. The loaves in Genzano were close to six pounds or so (didn't weigh it). HUGE! And flatter than I expected!

        Keep at it! I hope to make a Genzano later this month!
        Last edited by texassourdough; 02-06-2012, 06:27 AM. Reason: add comment on underproofed...


        • #5
          Re: A try at Genzano

          Yes, I'm suspecting the gluten addition more and more. Hard to believe it was underproofed as it was domed up like I had a basketball covered up in my colander. I was afraid it was going to collapse, but obviously it had plenty of umph left in it, so you may be right on that. Steam was not more than usual (I use a pump up garden type sprayer). I also baked some Hammelman Pain Levain and they came out typical looking for my efforts. I will be trying the whole wheat version next w/o gluten addition. That and the WW will undoubtedly reduce the height a bit.

          I can't imagine manipulating or cooking a full sized one! Not sure it would get into, or out of, my oven!

          Did you post about your SFBI experience? May have missed that. Has always been a thought in the back of my mind....


          • #6
            Round two: Genzano

            I had another go at the Genzano this weekend, this time with Leader's whole wheat version. Once again, I did not use his full, high speed mixing times. I just ran it through until I was happy with the windowpane test. The only real difference this time around (outside the whole wheat addition) was leaving out the gluten flour. Last time I included a tablespoon since he recommended high protein flour and all I had was plain vanilla AP.

            The mixing and rise were similar to before and the final proofed loaf was loose and jiggly. The baking results, however, were more in line with the Genazano descriptions, not the inflated basket ball I got last time . While that was tasty, it was not what I expected! This loaf was flatter with a more open crumb. I suspect it did go in at a bit higher temp than last time. My thermometer batteries decided to die right as I was getting ready to load, so I don't know for sure. At any rate, I do like this bread.


            • #7
              Re: A try at Genzano

              You can use more bran... The real stuff is pretty heavily covered in bran. Your crumb looks just a little tight for what I would expect OTOH, you used whole wheat and that tightens the crumb so???? I think it looks good. You should have an almost nutty flavor to the bread from the bran toasting. That is a key flavor to the white loaves. Not sure how that translated to the WW.

              Looks like you have cracks in the crust. That suggests you may have been a bit underproofed. I would tend to bake it a little hotter and a little longer. (The loaves in Italy are almost black.) But I know for sure it tastes good! Nice job!

              Thanks for sharing your experience!


              • #8
                Re: A try at Genzano

                Thanks Jay. My best guess is that the temp was probably about 580 when it went in, so I don't think I would kick that up, but the time could have gone longer for sure. I ran about 30 minutes and 50 or so is recommended. The last one did go longer. The bran was there, but some brushed off or broke out around the cracks. Definitely has the nutty flavor to it. Hard to judge the proofing I guess. I did the finger poke test and it was pretty slow to spring back. I'm game to try the white flour version again too.

                The crumb is perplexing to me. This dough gets minimal manipulation: one fold at 1 1/2 hours, shaped at 3 and proof for 1 1/2-2 hours. Loading is a straight dump from the collander to peal. Going in it sure seems like there are larger bubbles in the dough.


                • #9
                  Re: A try at Genzano

                  This is directionally a dough that you want to have on the overproofed side - much like Pane Pugliesi. (Pugliesi is poked down with fingers to give it room to expand. Since they don't do that to Genzano it is best to be over and have the absorbed gas level in the dough declining - so you don't get a violent expansion/rip). As an unscored loaf it needs to be over the hill enough it doesn't explode. Looks like you probably judged right (by my taste) for conventional rustic loaves but may have been a bit early for Genzano. The extra proofing will also help give a more open crumb.

                  I agree on temp. 580 is hot enough. I think this bread benefits from longer bakes. It is SO wet that you could bake it forever and it wouldn't dry out. (okay, exaggerated but...)
                  But the extra baking/browning will add a nuttier flavor to the loaf.

                  I am going to guess that a part of your denser crumb arises from being on the underdeveloped dough side due to your short mix. When I have made Genzano I have mixed all the way per Leader and the resulting loaves have been really robust to handling. Your lower mixing is likely to yield less robust development which may lead to loss of gas at forming. You can probably shorten your bulk ferment a bit if you want to which will lengthen your prooof and should give more open crumb.

                  I think a better idea would be to do S&Fs at every half hour for at least the first hour. As wet as that dough is you can probably do it for the hour and a half with no problem. That will give you a more developed dough and better gas retention. (Just quit S&F whenever the dough gets too tight/starts to tear or "lock up" (i.e. you can lift the dough ball in the stretch phase).

                  Since you like this bread you should also try the SFBI Miche with wheat germ that David Snyder blogged on at Fresh Loaf. Wheat germ is a GREAT additive also... Very nutty!

                  Genzano is one of my real faves along with Tartine and Eric Kayser's Pain aux Cereales.

                  Bake On!
                  Last edited by texassourdough; 02-22-2012, 05:53 PM.


                  • #10
                    Re: A try at Genzano

                    Thanks Jay. As usual, a good assessment and advice. I'm trying to expand out from my pain levain, which I've gotten into a rut with. I can make it pretty well now, but I need more tricks up my sleeve. This experiment has gotten me going.


                    • #11
                      Re: A try at Genzano

                      Your comment on pain levain makes me laugh! I made the same loaves, well as close as I reasonably could for about five years. I actually baked almost every week for two years on the same bread - my rustic boules.That got me really aligned on that bread and it is still almost automatic to make straight SD boules. They turn out reliably like I expect them to and if they don't I usually know why before I bake them. I love that bread so much that it took me forever to get very serious about making other breads. Now i do about a dozen with some regularity. Change feels good every once in a while.

                      Bake on!


                      • #12
                        Re: A try at Genzano

                        Hello Everyone,
                        I've been baking the Genzano for 4 years now, in my normal oven with a hearth kit stone inside, but I've been toying with the idea to baking it in a wood burning oven (at a local restaurant). Could you please share with me how you bake in yours? What temperature do you heat it up to and how you handle the steam/ice issue, do you still place it on parchment and slide it in or would that catch fire? Does the temperature go down as you bake or do you keep adding wood to keep it constant? I thank you all in advance for your advise, I'm really anxious to try the wood burning oven before I build my own!
                        Morristown NJ


                        • #13
                          Re: A try at Genzano

                          The hearth temp at loading should be somewhere between 470F up to as much as 525F, and the variable relates to how thick the hearth is and so how much heat is available and how quick the temperature will rebound after loading the bread. At these temps the parchment will hold up and you should be baking in an oven without a live fire. Steam during baking is going to be a bit of trial and error and you have a few options. The bake will go better with a full deck of bread and filling the oven with steam before closing the oven door. This assumes that the oven has a door that you can close and that will seal the steam in reasonably well. You'll need to experiment with some source of ongoing steaming if you feel it's needed. If you're not going to fill the oven with bread, try covering the baking breads with a stainless steel bowl that you remove after 20 minutes.

                          Regarding, building your own oven, you are in the right place. I also have a recommendation for a book for you.

                          "From the Wood-Fired Oven: New and Traditional Techniques for Cooking and Baking with Fire", by Richard Miscovich (Author) , Daniel Wing (Foreword)