I’m a little late to the party again, but not too late to miss out on some of the fun. The Bread Baking Babes turn ten this month and they unanimously decided to revisit the Royal Crown Tortano Bread. That was the first bread they ever baked as a group. I joined the group some years ago and so never baked the bread so it’s new to me.
A Tortano is a rustic Italian round bread with a hole in the middle. The Royal Crown Tortano Bread is a signature bread from the Royal Crown Bakery in Brooklyn in New York. The Royal Crown Tortano Bread recipe is adapted from Maggie Glezer’s book. She describes it as the “most beautiful bread” made by the Royal Crown Bakery. My recipe is based on the Bread Baking Babes first recipe. The advantage of going back to a bread others have baked before you is that you can learn from their experiences with it.
This Tortano is a high hydration bread. I have no idea why but suddenly, the past few higher hydration breads I made weren’t my best. So I made adjustments with a water and flour to make it a slightly lower hydration dough. The recipe below is the higher hydration version that seems to have worked well for others.
To bake this bread, you need to start with making the pre-ferment the night previous to the day you’re baking the bread. The next day morning, you knead the dough and let it rise. Then you fold and stretch it four times at 20 minute intervals, letting the dough rest in between. Shape the dough, let it rise again and bake. That’s it. If you’re not familiar with the stretch and fold method, this video demonstrates it very well.
I halved the recipe given below because there are just two of us at home now. I already have a baguette, some garlic bread and dinner rolls. As much as love bread, there’s only so much of it the two of us can eat. I also decided to add a tsp of cumin seeds to add some more flavour to the bread. Just to be a bit different and do my own thing with it. The important thing is to make sure the dough doesn’t over proof.
The addition of mashed potato to the dough gives the bread a nice flavor and texture. A crisp crust and soft crumb is the hallmark of this Royal Crown Tortano Bread. Eat it as it is, toast it and have it with soup or as crostini, maybe.
Royal Crown Tortano Bread
- For the Pre-Ferment :
- 1/4 tsp instant yeast
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 2/3 cup bread flour
- For the Dough :
- 1/4 cup well mashed potato 1 small boiled potato
- 3 3/4 cups bread flour
- all of the pre-ferment
- 2 tsp honey
- 1 tbsp salt scant 1 tbsp
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds optional
- 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
Make the Pre-Ferment (previous night) :
- Mix the yeast, flour and water together very well, in a medium size bowl. It will be a bit liquid and sticky. Cover loosely and let it sit on your counter overnight (about 12 hours). The next morning, it should be bubbly and taste a bit tangy.
- If your kitchen is very warm and the pre-ferment is fermenting very quickly, place it in the refrigerator after 3 hours of fermenting. In the morning, take it out, and allow it to come to room temperature 30 minutes to an hour before beginning the final dough.
Make the Mashed Potato First Thing in the Morning:
- Boil the potato till very soft and remove the skin. Mash well, use a ricer or push through a sieve so it is smooth with no lumps. The bread needs just 1/4 cup of mashed potato.
Making the Dough :
- Unlike my usual bread dough, I mixed this by hand. Put the flour, mashed potato, all the pre-ferment, salt, honey and cumin seeds (if using) in a large mixing bowl. Add as much of the water and mix together to make a somewhat wet and sticky dough. Remember, I used less water so I had a less wet and more manageable dough.
- Keep kneading, using a dough scraper (more of stretching and folding actually, after a point) till you have a smooth and shiny dough. Shape the dough into a ball and roll it in flour. Place it in an oiled bowl, cover loosely and let it rise to double in volume. This will take about 4 hours or so depending on ambient temperature.
- After the first rise, turn the dough out onto a floured counter. Wet your fingers with water so the dough doesn’t stick to them. Do four stretch and fold turning the ball a quarter with every stretch and fold. Four stretch and folds will result in one complete turn of the ball of dough. Do a total of four stretch and folds, once every 20 minutes, letting the dough rest in between.
- So a stretch and fold after 20, 40, 60 and 80 minutes. After every stretch and fold, I left the dough on my counter to rest, covered by a large bowl.
Shape the Dough :
- After the last stretch and fold, let the dough rest for 20 minutes. Sprinkle more flour if necessary and shape it into a smooth round.
- Sprinkle a generous amount of flour over the center of the ball. Push your fingers into the center to make a hole, the rotate your hand around the hole to widen it, making a large 4-inch opening. The bread should have about 12 inches diameter.
- Place the dough smooth side down on the floured couche or parchment lined baking tray. Loosely cover and let it rise for about an hour. When the dough springs back when lightly pressed, it is ready.
- Pre-heat the oven to 230C (450F) with a baking stone or baking tray. You can score the dough at this point if you want to. Bake the bread for about 45 minutes till done and dark brown. Let it cool on a rack.
The Bread Baking Babes are –
Though the Bread Baking Babes (BBB) are a closed group, you’re most welcome to bake with us as a Bread Baking Buddy. Here’s how it works. This month is the 10th anniversary of the group.
Karen is this month’s Kitchen of the Month and the recipe for this month’s bread is on her blog. Bake the Royal Bakery Tortano Bread and post it on your blog before the 28th of this month. Make sure you mention the Bread Baking Babes and link to her BBB post in your own post. Then e-mail her with your name and the link to the post, or leave a comment on her blog post with this information. She will do a Buddy round-up for this month on her blog and send you a BBB badge to add to your post on your blog.