can’t help but make it again

Pane al cioccolato

Pane al cioccolato

I’ve blogged about it twice already and yet here’s another.

Pane al cioccolato

Adapted from Jude’s post here

Changes:

- Made a pseudostarter (18 g flour, 9 g water and a pinch of active dry yeast) instead of using an actual starter in the biga naturale.
- Did a stretch and fold at the one-hour time point during the bulk fermentation.
- Final shape in my new plastic brotform dusted with a 50:50 mix of rice flour and AP flour.
- and here’s the kicker: I baked it on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, in a cold oven to try the method that crumb bum had described on The Fresh Loaf.

The basic idea is when the loaf has finished proofing, put it in the oven, throw a cup of boiling water on the oven floor and jack up the temperature to 500F(+) for the first 15 min or so. There’s no preheating involved at all. You’ll have to be careful because 1) don’t forget to turn the temperature back down to ~440-450F for the rest of the bake (!) and 2) the bottom of the loaves can get darker than when you preheat. I did have to keep it at 500F for longer than 15 min because my oven only got to around 300F after 15 min, nowhere close to the actual baking temperature of 400F.

What’s the point? Well, I wanted to get good oven spring despite not having a baking stone, or a cast iron pan with lava rocks to generate good steam. The pyrex bowl method wouldn’t work here because my loaf was shaped as a batard (oval) and not as a boule (round). I was also feeling a bit adventurous.

Sorry… I’m calling all of these “methods” but really just wanted to share how flexible bread baking is. There’s really no “one and only way” to mix, ferment, shape and bake. I’ve made this bread numerous times beyond the three posts on this blog, each time tweaking or trying something different, and each loaf has been wonderful in its own way. Not every loaf you bake will be something to write about of course — trust me, I’ve had more than my fair share of failures — but that’s all the more incentive to keep trying. The day that you pull out a fragrant, crusty loaf will make all the days before it worthwhile.

Besides, nothing tastes as good as homemade baked goods. :)

Even if the very hot loaf fell upside-down on the table while you were trying to transfer it to a cooling rack, so the top looks squished in. Not that that’s what happened here, but I’m just sayin’.

* * *

I’m sending this to Susan at Wild Yeast for Yeastspotting for the one-year anniversary of YeastSpotting (hooray!), and to Jude for sharing this beloved recipe in the first place.

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5 Responses to “can’t help but make it again”

  1. Susan/Wild Yeast Says:

    I’ve never tried that no-preheat method. What a wonderful result you got! How true that there are any number of roads that can lead to a beautiful loaf. Bake on Jackie!

    • toxobread Says:

      Susan: isn’t it wonderful and surprising that just when you think you’ve gotten the most fundamental, basic stuff down, something comes along and makes you completely rethink it all? The no-preheat method is a neat trick indeed.

  2. YeastSpotting June 5, 2009 | Wild Yeast Says:

    [...] Pane al cioccolato [...]

  3. Jude Says:

    So interesting that you tried the cold oven method. I’m too scared to try it because it just doesn’t feel right to me. Looks like it works great, though!

  4. toxobread Says:

    Jude: I know, doesn’t it feel wrong to put the loaf in a *cold* oven? It boggles my mind but seems to work pretty well. I wonder if it will do the same for all kinds of bread. (sandwich? enriched?)

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