Friday, January 4, 2008

Artisan bread and bruschetta recipe

One thing I've neglected writing about lately (partly because I've neglected doing it lately) is making bread. For a traditional bruschetta recipe from Piemonte, I created a partly whole-wheat chestnut bread. To make it, I dissolved active dry yeast in warm water, then added equal parts bread flour and whole wheat flour and a bit of salt (equal to yeast, or a bit less). I tended to add a lot of yeast, b/c both the chestnuts and the whole wheat flour make this bread a difficult rise. Then I chopped up a bunch of canned chestnuts and tossed them in, mixed it up, let it rise for a while, shaped it into long loaves, let it rise again, and based until brown and hollow-sounding when tapped.

To make the bruschetta, we sliced the bread and slathered on a layer of cream cheese and then a lighter layer of creamy gorgonzola, then topped it with chopped walnuts. Bake/toast until the cheese melts. Heavenly!

Tonight, I am making a pre-ferment for a recipe from Maggie Gleazer's Artisan Baking. The recipe is for Royal Crown's Tortano, a beautiful large round bread with a hole in the middle (like a donut). I have had a lot of luck with this bread in the past, in terms of delicious flavor, great texture in the crumb, and a wonderful crispy, crunchy crust, which is notably difficult to achieve in my old electric oven. It involved making a pre-ferment the night before, and then requires about 7 hours in mixing, rising, and baking time the next day. It's well worth making on a weekend day when I'm at home anyway, though, and with the crazy storm we're having right now, there's no reason not to spend a lovely day at home baking some delicious bread.

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