Pane Cafone (Country Man's Bread)

Pane Cafone (Country Man's Bread)

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Procrastibaking (baking bread while I should be tending to other matters)

Although spring is in the air and the air is heating up quite a bit here in Florida, it has still been raining and raining, and then for good measure, raining some more.  There is not much I can do in the yard or garden, the chickens are getting webbed feet and learning a second language (quack) so I may as well work on my bread baking skills.

The kitchen manager where I work is enamored with all things Italian and serves ciabatta on a regular basis at the Wednesdays lunches but it's big box store ciabatta.  Rather tasteless and bland.  I don't work with too many high hydration doughs other than the rye bread I make from time to time but I feel comfortable working with the wet, sticky doughs since I've learned how to handle them. I figured ciabatta shouldn't be any different. 
The ciabatta starts with a pre-ferment that you start 12 hours before you plan to bake.  I'm not familiar with bigga's but I think that's what it would be called.  I  make it the night before and put everything else together in the morning. I found a video with recipe on youtube that I watched and then downloaded the recipe.  The recipe is a yeasted one and that's how I make the 1st batch just to get a feel for it but it wasn't hard to convert it to a sourdough version by eliminating the yeast and substituting 1 cup (190g) of starter.  My cellphone pictures do not do it justice.  They came out light and airy with nice big holes just like ciabatta should and best of all, the cook at work gave me the highest compliment by telling me they had an Italian soul after I brought her some.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Hands down the best rye bread recipe I've ever made.

Artisan Sourdough Rye Bread

I've always enjoyed a nice rye bread with caraway seeds so it was only natural for me to try and perfect a sourdough rye bread.  I've been trying different things on and off over the years including using all rye flour one time.  That was a dense loaf.  In my travels around different sourdough websites I finally stumbled upon what was to become the recipe that just knocked my apron off at Right there on their home page was a link to a recipe for Artisan sourdough Rye bread  I read through the recipe and it sure sounded tasty so I decided to give it a whirl.  They also include a yeast variation but I went straight sourdough.  The aroma of this bread rising is enough to make you drool.

Mise en place

This is a high hydration dough and a shaggy mess to work with.

First proofing.  The aroma of this dough is enough to make you drool.

In the basket for the final rise

I missed getting it into the cast iron dutch oven but it still turned out nice

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 18 hours
Yield: 1 Loaf

  • Water: 400 grams, 1 3/4 cups
  • Sourdough Starter: 70 grams, 1/3 cup (omit if making the instant yeast version)
  • Instant Yeast: 1 tsp. (omit if making sourdough leavened version)
  • Rye Flour: 245 grams, 1 3/4 cups
  • Bread Flour: 245 grams, 1 3/4 cups
  • Molasses: 44 grams, 2 Tbs.
  • Fennel Seed: 8 grams, 1 Tbs.
  • Anise Seed: 2 grams, 1 tsp.
  • Caraway Seed: 3 grams, 1 tsp.
  • Salt: 12 grams, 1 3/4 tsp.
  • Zest of 1 Orange
Sourdough Version:
In a mixing bowl, mix the starter into the water. Add the molasses, all the seeds and orange zest.
In a separate bowl, combine the flours and salt.
Gradually stir the dry ingredients into the wet using a dough whisk or spoon until the flour is well incorporated. Cover with plastic and let rest for 15 minutes. After about 15 minutes, mix again for a minute or two. Again let rest for 15 minutes and mix one more time as before. Now cover the bowl with plastic and let sit at room temperature for roughly 12-14 hours.
Instant Yeast Version
The only difference is don’t use sourdough starter and instead mix the instant yeast into the dry ingredients before combining with the wet ingredients.
Both Versions
After the long 12-14 hour proof, stretch and fold the dough and shape into boule or batard (round or oblong) shape for baking. (If you didn’t follow that, I’m afraid you’re doomed to watch the video.) Cover again with plastic and let rest 15 minutes before putting in a proofing basket for the final rise. If you don’t have a proofing basket, line a bowl with a well floured kitchen towel and put the dough in there for the final rise. The final rise should last somewhere between 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Keep the dough covered with plastic to prevent it from drying out.
Preheat your oven to 475 F a half hour before baking.
Score the dough with a razor or sharp serrated knife and bake until the internal temp is about 200 F.
Let cool completely before eating.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Taking my bread to the next level.

In my travels around the internet, I ran across the Bread Beckers website.
Sue Becker explains all the advantages of grinding your own flour, not the least of which is that store bought flour is basically nutritionally dead 3 days after it's been milled.  She has a food science degree, I'm not going to argue with her. 
The advantages of owning your own grain mill are many, grind what you need when you need it, true whole grain goodness and more control over what goes into my bread not to mention that whole wheat berries sealed in a can have a shelf life of 30 years.

The 1st bread I made from my own fresh milled flour is commonly called "Ezekiel Bread".  In case you have never heard of it, the reason for the name is pretty simple, grab a bible and look up Ezekiel 4:9.  The ingredients list is right there as well as how Ezekiel is supposed to cook and eat it.  (I don't recommend his fuel source, Ezekiel 4:12)

This is the recipe directly as it is written on the Bread Beckers website and is the one I use.  I made 6 loaves over a 2 day period and they got devoured by hungry co-workers. 

"Ezekiel Bread
Combine the following whole grains:
2 1/2 cups hard red wheat
1 1/2 cups spelt or rye (Biblically spelt was used, Ezekiel 4:9)
1/2 cup barley (hulled barley)
1/4 cup millet
1/4 cup lentils (green preferred)
2 Tbs. great northern beans
2 Tbs. red kidney beans
2 Tbs. pinto beans
Stir the above ingredients very well.  Grind in flour mill.

Measure into large bowl
4 cups lukewarm water
1 cup honey
1/2 cup oil (I use olive oil)

Add to liquids:
Freshly milled flour from the above mixture of grains
2 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. yeast

Stir or knead until well kneaded about 10 minutes.  This is batter type bread and will not form a smooth ball.
Pour dough into greased pans.  You may use 2 large loaf pans (10x5x3) or 3 med. loaf pans or 2-9×13 brownie pans.  Let rise in a warm place for one hour or until the dough is almost to the top of the pan.  If it rises too much it will over flow the pan while baking.  Bake at 350o for 45-50 minutes for loaf pans and 35-40 minutes for brownie pans.

*For fasting divide bread into 8 equal parts weighing 1/2 pound each.  Eat a 1/2 pound cake and drink a quart of water every day.  For fasting I do not alter the recipe."

Now I'm sure that ol Ezekiel didn't have a grocery store near by to purchase instant yeast from so until the last 150 years or so, this bread was made from a sourdough starter. My 1st 2 batches were made just as you see in the above recipe with instant yeast but I plan on converting this into a wild yeast recipe.  I'm sure it's going to change the flavor and texture a little but I expect good things to become of these changes.  I will post the recipe once I finish converting it to a sourdough bread.

As to my new Wondermill electric grain mill, I love this thing.  I found it on Craigslist for a great price and the reviews I have seen on it reinforce my decision to own one.  I already own a Wondermill Jr Deluxe, which is the hand cranked version, but this machine makes grinding your own flour a breeze.  The only down side is that dried grains, dried beans and such is the only thing you can grind in it.  You can not make your own nut butters, grind oily beans like coffee or anything else soft.  For those jobs the Wondermill Jr. Deluxe shines since it came with 2 sets of grinding heads.  A stone set for milling dried grains and a stainless steel set of grinding heads for softer, oily grains and beans.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Salt Rising Bread?

Up until recently I had never heard of "Salt Rising Bread. Apparently, it has some unique properties.  The proofing temps for the starter are much higher than traditional sourdough and it is best toasted due to it's "different, pungent smell".  (It was described to me as smelling a lot like dirty socks)  Ummm, Okay.  When toasted it takes on a "cheese like" flavor.  I've eaten a lot of cheese over the course of my life and I know that there are still some of those that I won't go
This salt rising bread has me intrigued though.  In a sense it is in the sourdough family so it's only fair that I give it the benefit of the doubt and try it out.  I understand that it is not an easy bread to make so I plan to take my time and research it as much as possible before I attempt to make a loaf. 
For Christmas a friend of mine is sending me a loaf and some starter from a mid-western bakery that specializes in the stuff.  I'll keep good notes and let you know how it turns out.  I already have a co-worker that is dying to get her hands on some so I have a willing guinea pig  taste tester.   I hope it comes with some documentation.

To be continued....

Monday, December 15, 2014

Pane Cafone

I've been doing some research lately on simple recipes in preparation of teaching a retiring friend how to bake sourdough.  I wanted something simple yet flavorful that looked great.  My first thought was "Bob's Basic Sourdough Bread", which is fairly easy to make but I wanted something even easier.  I ran across a recipe for Pane Cafone.  A very simple Neapolitan Peasant Bread.  Instead of baking this one on a stone though, I baked it in a 3Qt Littonware Simmerpot.  The results were spectacular for such a simple recipe.


  • 500 Grams soft grain flour (unbleached all-purpose flour)
  • 235 Grams water
  • 235 Grams active sourdough culture (levain)
  • 13 Grams fine sea salt. (Do not use salt with iodine added.)


1. Mix the flour, water and active sourdough starter together in a bowl with a stout wooden spoon. If it gets too difficult, knead it out on a lightly floured surface until everything is well incorporated.
2. Lightly oil the mixing bowl and place the mixture back in the bowl, cover with plastic or a damp towel and let autolyse for 30-60 minutes.
3. On a lightly floured surface, pour out the mixture and gently flatten it out. Sprinkle the salt over the mixture and knead for 5-7 minutes.
4. Return the dough to the oiled bowl, cover and let rise for 4 hours.
5. Punch down and form into a round loaf without slashing the top.*
6. Proof 2 more hours in a banneton or wicker basket lined with a lightly oiled and floured linen.
7. Slash top and bake in a preheated oven on a baking stone at 450F for 20 minutes then reduce heat to 400F and bake until center reaches 210F using a quick read thermometer. **
8. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Natures Own???

While at the store the other day I picked up a couple of loaves of Natures Own Whole Wheat bread.  On the packaging it states, "No artificial preservatives, colors or flavors, no HFCS.  It looks like a healthier choice than white bread.
After I got home I scanned the ingredient list.

Whole Wheat Flour, water, wheat gluten, yeast, contains 2% or less of each of the following: brown sugar, honey, wheat bran, soybean oil, salt, dough conditioners, (so far so good except for that GMO soybean oil huh?) Now comes the fun part, (contains one or more of the following: Sodium Stearoyl lactylate, Calcium stearoyl Lactylate, Monoglycerides and/or Diglycerides, Calcium Peroxide, Calcium Iodate, Datem, Ethoxylated mono- and diglycerides, Enzymes), Vinegar, Cultured wheat flour, Ammonium Sulfate, Monocalcium phosphate, Soy Lecithin.

Why are there so many chemicals in my 100% Whole wheat bread that are also used as industrial fertilizers?  Kinda makes you wonder.  Ostensibly, there added to improve the texture of the bread and so that each and every loaf behaves the same way when it's put together and baked.

The beauty of home made sourdough bread is the control I have over the ingredients but each and every loaf I bake has it's own look, no two are the same.  Just about all of my wheat flours are ground from whole  wheat berries. Water, salt and of course, sourdough starter finish off the ingredients list for a loaf of home made bread.  I may get fancy once in a while and add cheese and herbs to the bread but there all fresh grown herbs out of my garden most of the time.  I don't have a lot of control over the cheese making but it's not hard to find an all natural cheese even in a supermarket.

Growing up I can't ever remember one of my childhood friends telling me he/she was gluten/lactose, whatever, intolerant. Allergic to strawberries or something like that, sure.  I blame the food industry itself for creating all these latest ills in our society.  The pasteurization/homogenization of all our foods, not to mention all the genetic modifications and extraneous chemical crap added.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Fall is in the air, time to start baking again.

Over the course of the last summer I think I may have baked 1 or 2 loaves of bread.  I even managed to kill one of my favorite starters, a nice well aged Richard Packham 1965 SF starter.  Fear not, I have back up's.
With temps dropping along with the leaves I figured it was time to fire up another starter and get ready for the coming indoor baking season.  The starter I chose to use this time is a Sourdough International San Francisco starter.  I started with a dried back up and spent the last week feeding and nurturing it back to life.  Today it was time to do something with it.  Below is the recipe I'm creating today.


350g white flour
260g active starter
60g whole wheat flour
30g fresh milled rye flour
25g fresh milled spelt flour
25g fresh milled buckwheat flour
13g Tuscan herb salt
1  sprig fresh chopped rosemary
1 clove fermented garlic chopped fine
292g water - room temp

Prepare the dough

1. At least 12 hours before beginning (you can do this the night before), feed starter as follows: Remove
starter from refrigerator and add equal parts flour and room-temperature water (I use about 130 g each,
which replenishes what I'll be using in the bread). Stir/whip well, incorporating oxygen, and leave on
the counter top, with the cover slightly ajar. Starter should be bubbling and lively when you begin your
2. Place a large bowl on your scale and zero out the scale. Now add the flours, one at a time, zeroing
out the scale after each addition.  Add the starter and the water.
3. Mix thoroughly with a wet hand until the dough is homogeneous. Mist a piece of plastic wrap with
vegetable oil spray, press it directly onto the dough, and leave the dough to autolyse for 45-60 minutes.

Kneading and fermentation

4. Remove dough from bowl and flatten out on the kneading surface.  Add salt, chopped rosemary and chopped garlic and knead by hand 7-9 minutes.  You can use a stand mixer with a dough hook for 2-3 minutes if you like but it takes away the joy of working the dough by hand. Knead until dough is elastic and smooth.
5. Clean out and dry the mixing bowl (no soap), mist with vegetable oil spray, and replace the dough.
Place the oiled plastic wrap back onto the dough. Ferment at room temperature (68 -72 degrees is ideal)
for 4 to 5 hours.

Form and proof the boule

6. Using your hand or a flexible pastry scraper, remove the dough to a floured counter top.
7. Gently press down to form a disk about an inch thick. Try not to press out the gas bubbles or mess
with it too much.
8. Fold the edges into the center. Move around the disk several times, pulling and gathering, tighter and
tighter, trying to create some surface tension, as you form a ball. Finish with a just few seconds of half-
rolling, half-dragging across the floured counter top, moving the boule in a tight circular motion.
9. If you don't have a banneton or basket for proofing boules, simply line a kitchen colander with a
well-floured linen napkin and place the boule inside, seam side up.
10. Cover with same piece of plastic wrap and set aside to proof, 11⁄2 to 2 hours. While dough is
proofing, place a cast iron dutch oven with the lid on it on the bottom shelf of the oven. Preheat oven to its highest setting.

Score and bake

11. After 1 1/2 to 2 hours, when the dough is proofed (another term for the second rise), it should
have increased in volume by about half, and feel slightly springy.  Remove the plastic wrap and  sprinkle with rice flour or corn meal. Open the oven and setting the lid to the dutch oven aside, grasp the basket and flip the dough into the hot dutch oven.  Be careful not to burn yourself.
12. Make several symmetrical slashes (or grignes) with your lame or razor. A "tic-tac-toe" grid is a
good way for beginners to start.
13. Immediately spritz the top of the loaf with water from a spray bottle and put the lid back on the dutch oven. Try to minimize the time the oven door is open.
14. Set oven temperature to 480 degrees F.
15. After 20-25 minutes, remove the lid from the dutch oven.
16. Bake until loaves register 210 degrees F in center, about 50 to 60 minutes) with an instant-read
17. Return bread to oven, with oven off and door closed, for 10 to 15 minutes.
18. Remove bread to a rack and cool for at least 2 hours before serving.

The finished loaf.

I'll take this one to work Monday and share it with my co-workers.