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Good crusty bread

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  • Good crusty bread

    OK so I'm ready to start baking bread in the oven...my bride is haunting me for a good crusty bread that is filled with big holes like we have at Fireside Pies here in Dallas. Can anyone recommend a recipe...I was going to go with the Ciabatta one posted - but don't know if the crust will be hard enough for the duchess.

    Also - has anyone tried just to make a quick torpedo loaf out of leftover pizza dough?? I will probably have a bunch of mediocre dough leftover today so I may give it a shot.

    Let me know what you think...Jay

  • #2
    well as luck would have it, i made my first bread ever in the oven last night and it was a ciabatta. it was very easy to make. i followed the (excellent) advice of james and others on this thread http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/showthread.php?t=419 and it turned out pretty good for a first try. the recipe i used called for 5 cups of all purpose flour and and 1 cup of wheat flour. having neither, i used bread flour instead (king arthur). i think the wheat might have given the bread more flavor and i'll try that next time. my biga sat for 17 hours. See here for picture of biga (i've exceeded my image allotment).

    i made a wet dough.

    the dough sat for 6 hours in various forms. heres the second rise after the first "letter fold". i always folded in the same direction. by the way, with a dough this wet, "folding" is a relative term. i used a steel pastry thingee (here's a picture) to help lift and fold over the dough.

    you have to wet your hands, pick up the dough and and slop the dough onto a water soaked wood paddle and then tip the "loaf" onto the hearth. below, behold the finished loaf.

    and the HOLES !!!!

    it was a dark and stormy night and my hearth varied in temp from 450 at the front to 650 at the back. i left the loaves in for 25 minutes but i think i could have used another 5 minutes. i think a little burnt is better than underdone. i made one loaf first and then a second batch of two loaves. hard to tell about the timing because for the second batch, the wind blew the "door" (a 2 by 3 foot piece of wonderboard) off the oven sometime during the second batch.
    Last edited by Robert Musa; 02-27-2006, 09:14 AM.
    my site for our pompeii and tandoor ovens


    • #3
      Too good

      It's a dark and stormy day in Healdsburg. 3-5" of rain in 24 hours.

      Excellent bread Robert -- too good for your first pass. You don't any room left for improvement.

      I am going to try Jim's recommendations of using a damp towel on the door and a water sprayer above the loaves when the oven isn't packed. I really like that crackly crust which you can only get with a lot of steam.

      I'm also trying to get my Pugliese (or any other rustic hearth loaf) to rise up, as well as sideways, before I slash and bake it. Any advice on that would be appreciated.

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      • #4
        Rise Up


        I've made a lot of Pugliese, and I've never been able to get the same amount of "up" rise as with other, less hydrated rustic breads. Peter Reinhart does say that Pugliese will flatten out on the peel after you turn the dough out on it. This always happens to me, hence not as spectacular a rise. For hearth breads, pain au levain or what have you, I've found that the proper size and shape of banneton helps enormously to get bread that rises up as well as out. With batard or baguette, using a couche with tight high folds does about the same thing. In addition, I think that very high hearth heat contributes greatly to oven spring, with both hydrated and stiffer doughs, which seems only to happen in the upward direction. My Pugliese never rose as high in my gas oven as it does in the brick oven.

        "Made are tools, and born are hands"--William Blake, 1757-1827


        • #5
          we made another ciabatta this weekend with much better flavor than the one from a couple of weeks ago and also had even bigger holes than the first. i did several things differently.

          1. i added a tablespoon of brown sugar to the biga and
          2. i let the kitchen aide knead the dough for a long time and
          2. i left the bread in the oven until there was a "burnt toast" smell coming from the oven.

          i think the latter (baking until it smelled) probably made the difference. so now i have a theory that you can easily know when the bread is done, without looking at it, by waiting for the burnt toast smell. and the ciabatta receipe is very easy because you only have to remember a 2 to 1 ratio for flour to water.

          i'm now of the opinion that anyone can make good "artisan" bread by simply folding the bread as outlined by james and by being very "gentle" with the dough ( i didn't do anything but carefully fold after the dough came out of the mixer).

          a couple of questions:

          1. is it possible to "over knead" the dough in the kitchen aide? if so, what is the symptom of overkneading?

          2. can i now go hog wild and make different (but still edible) breads merely by varying the hydration of the dough? i used to think that bread making was an exact science but now i'm thinking that perhaps a wide variation in ratios of flour to water will still make a decent bread. what do you get with a "dryer" ciabatta?
          my site for our pompeii and tandoor ovens


          • #6
            Go hog wild

            Ciabatta is the ultimate wash and wear hearth bread.

            One idea is to buy an instant read thermometer (a couple $), and test the bread interior to check if it is done. 205F is the target.

            A traditional Pugliese is more of a crusty heath bread that a Ciabatta. Very similar in approach, but the Pugliese has a slightly drier dough; a higer gluten flour; more of a vertical rise and a heavier texture. It's like Italian French bread. You slash the top, where the Ciabatta is folded, and left like a dog bone. In an Italian bread shop or supermarket, the Puguliese is a more serious bread, and the Ciabattas tend to be very light -- the Pugliese costs more, and the Ciabatta use very light flour.

            You make your dough a little stiffer, then make a batard (topedo -- photos below) after you have done the fold. Let the batard proof in a folded piece of linen (it works OK on a wood peel covered with a cloth, but grows more horizontally) until it has swelled (but not sagged).

            Slash it like a french bread, and bake. I've started experimenting with a spray bottle to get more steam in the oven (I think I washed all the floor cleaner out....). It should look and feel like your favorite hearth bread. Nice holes, but not as big as your Ciabatta, a heavier crust, and a very moist crumb. It could become your favorite.

            Robert, if you can do this the first time, you are a bread prodigy.

            It is pretty hard to overhead knead dough. You just need to give it time to rest (relax the gluten) after you have beat it up. If you don't give it the right proofing time, it will be hard, tough and bruised. Like a bad pizza.

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            • #7
              It's a small, small world

              Put this in the "small world" file. Fireside Pies just starting buying pizza peels from Forno Bravo. Cool.
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              • #8
                Very nice! A visit to Fireside may be in order today...I used all my dough (and almost all my wood!) yesterday. We had a neighborhood party and I brought a couple of pies...they went VERY quick.

                I was going to bring 3 pies, but one did catapult off the peel - so instant calzone for my daughter and babysitter!

                Fireside in Dallas is like Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix...people start lining up around 4-4.30 before they open at 5pm!


                • #9
                  Re: Good crusty bread

                  Nice looking bread! I've never tried making a wet dough. Very interesting. So making the wet dough helps you get the holes in the bread?