Is the world ready for another baking group? And what compels baking aficionados to seek others with the same obsession (affliction)? Is it the influence of the leavening ingredients? I don't know, but there are a lot of us out there. Just look at the success of the Daring Bakers. My love for bread is so deep, the opportunity to join with another group, devoted to yeast dough, was perfect. The name of this group is Bread Baking Babes. And when Tanna extended an invitation to join, how could I refuse? I could satisfy my constant desire to feel yeast dough in my hands. And truth to tell, I was smitten with the fact that I'm now officially, a real babe.
So, let me introduce you to the Bread Baking Babes (and look at the spiffy logo designed by Lien) :
A Fridge Full of Food (Glenna), Bake My Day (Karen), Cookie Baker Lynn (Lynn), I Like to Cook (Sara), Living on Bread and Water (Monique), Lucullian Delights (Ilva), My Kitchen in Half Cups (Tanna), Nami-Nami (Pille), Notitie van Lien (Lien), The Sour Dough (Mary aka Breadchick), Thyme For Cooking (Katie), and What Did You Eat (Sher)
Our first project is being hosted this month by the lovely Karen at Bake My Day. The recipe is a fabulous, to die for bread, called Royal Crown's Tortano. It makes a big round loaf with a strong yeast flavor and deep chewy crust. I made the recipe twice, and while my results were imperfect, the bread itself was marvelous.
The amazing flavor and texture of this bread is due to it being a "wet" dough. It's always fun to see a hideously sticky goo gradually firm up into a silky, sensuous dough. And this was one of the wettest doughs I've ever dealt with. The bread is not hard to make, but it does require setting aside an entire day, to accommodate the long period of time for proofing, turning and baking. The actual work involved is not hard, and probably takes about 20 minutes in all. The bread requires a simple pre-ferment, which develops overnight into a bubbly mixture smelling like beer. I started making the dough around 9:30 p.m. Since I knew it would be early evening before I pulled a finished loaf from the oven, I used the time between working on the dough by gardening and watching/listening to television. I quickly learned that trying to make bread with background noise of various pundits arguing about Hillary, McCain, and Obama was maddening. Instead, I found the America's Next Top Model marathon perfect for my purposes.
As I said, this is a wet dough. Here you see the almost liquid dough, churned 20 minutes in my Mixmaster, just before I turned it out onto the counter, . It's tempting to add more flour, but resist the urge. It all comes together eventually. The sticky dough was rolled in flour and placed in a bowl to ferment for almost 4 hours. It was during this waiting period that Tyra got very angry at a young model and screamed at her for disrespecting the show. Fierce!
After the 4 hour ferment, the dough has lots of large bubbles in it, which should be preserved as much as possible. Instead of punching down the dough, it's pulled out of the bowl and turned 4 times. The gentle action of the turning, simply folding the dough into an envelope shape and letting it rest for 20 minutes before the next turn, helps firm the dough.
The dough is finally shaped into a large bagel form, left to rise for a final time, and then baked.
By the time the bread came out of the oven it was evening, hence the murky photos. But, you can see the size of the loaf as my husband holds it up.
And the resulting bread was all that I hoped. Try this recipe. Don't be afraid of the sticky dough. Like an ugly duckling, it becomes a beautiful thing indeed. Warning: It's hard to resist this bread!
If you would like to make your own Royal Crown's Tortano, you can find the recipe at The Sour Dough (Mary aka Breadchick) or A Fridge Full of Food (Glenna). And thank you for hosting Karen! To see how the other Babes fared, go to these sites:
A Fridge Full of Food (Glenna), Bake My Day (Karen), Cookie Baker Lynn (Lynn), I Like to Cook (Sara), Living on Bread and Water (Monique), Lucullian Delights (Ilva), My Kitchen in Half Cups (Tanna), Nami-Nami (Pille), Notitie van Lien (Lien), The Sour Dough (Mary aka Breadchick)