Wanted to try out the new cane bread proofing baskets so I went with my current favourite bread recipe — Pane di Como Antico.
“…a legendary bread from northern Italy. It has a nicely-holed interior and a chewy, crunchy crust. This recipe is based on one from Carol Field’s book, “The Italian Baker.” Her title for the bread is “Pane di Como Antico o Pane Francese — Como Bread of the Past, Known Today as French Bread.” The recipe she printed is based on the work of an Italian baker who researched the origins and development of the bread and developed a recipe that seemed to deliver what he had concluded was the old-fashioned taste and texture.”
Here’s the recipe I used to make 2 x 9″ diameter loaves:
First for the prefermented dough:
100 g all-purpose flour
100 g room temp. water
1/8th tsp instant yeast
Mix the ingredients together and let stand at room temperature for 12 to 16 hours. Usually I just leave the preferment out overnight.
For the Final Dough:
all of the prefermented dough
340 g all-purpose flour
65 g whole wheat flour
290 g water
¼ tsp instant yeast
1 ½ tsp sea salt, crushed
Mix all of the ingredients until well combined. Knead the dough, which is a bit sticky,for about 8 minutes. Place in a floured bowl, cover with a tea towel. Let rest for an hour.
Stretch and fold the dough. Basically stretch the dough into a rectangle. With the long side facing you, fold one end into the center, and the opposite side over top of that. Then fold the top edge over to touch the bottom edge.
Put the dough back in the bowl and let it ferment for an hour. Repeat this process so that you end up with 3 ferments of one hour with 2 stretch and folds in between. Believe me, this is all worth it.
Divide the dough into 2 or 3 pieces. I divided the dough in two for a couple of loaves. If you want to make baguettes I would go for 3 chunks.
I formed the dough into 2 large spheres and placed the dough in flour-lined proofing baskets. The spiral pattern from the cane gets imprinted on the bread. Let the bread proof until it doubles in size and pretty much fills out about 2/3rds of the proofing basket.
Ideally you would bake this bread on stones on the base of your oven, but I get fine results on a Silpat-lined baking sheet. Carefully invert the proofing basket and gently place the risen dough on the pan. I used a dough-scoring blade to create the square slashes in the top. Bake in a preheated oven at 475ºF with 1 cup of hot water placed in a heavy pan in the oven. The steam makes for a crispy crust. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Rotate the pan for even results, and cool the bread down before cutting into it. Patience is a virtue, but you will definitely be tempted to eat it right away.