Real Baking with Rose Levy Beranbaum: Food Processor Ricotta Bliss Bread

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Food Processor Ricotta Bliss Bread
the first time i saw bread being made in a food processor, in under 2 minutes, i didn’t know whether to be amazed or aghast but after speaking to fabrizio bottero of cuisinart, i learned just why it works so well. the gluten strands which develop and are then cut by the whirring blades during processing reconnect as soon as the processing stops. this is an important lesson about bread dough. think of dividing the dough as you would about the human body as in a break vs. a sprain. a break heals, a sprain is a tear that weakens a ligament and never repairs in the same way. this means that to have a strong viable dough you can cut it with sharp shears or a knife but not pull it apart to tear it!

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(Recipe on the main page) the potential problem with the food processor, however, is that the friction produced by the blades can overheat the dough very easily and also the processor can stall if the dough is stiff or if there's a large quantity of it. charlie vanover solved the second problem by working with cuisinart to design a machine that has a dough button that actually slows the machine preventing overheating and straining of the motor. if you are using another type of processor, it may be necessary to stop when you hear the motor straining or the dough jamming and allow it to rest for a few minutes for before continuing. for the second problem—overheating—i have come up with the following solution: i have everything but the butter as cold as possible to prevent build up of heat in the processor. If the butter has not been softened, however, the processor is likely to stall. freezing the flour/sugar/yeast mixture for 15 minutes or as long as you want would only help but is not absolutely necessary. one of my favorite recipes in the bread bible is for the ricotta loaf on page 285 but i'm about to provide you with a better version of it—so much better in fact that i originally called it "ricotta bliss bread." here's another lesson: bread baked free form as opposed to in a loaf pan will be more open in texture. i can just hear the gears clicking as some of you will think—but what about the no knead bread? well if a bread is that moist, and has no side walls of a pot to restrain it, it will puddle sideways and not rise as much—as many of you have experience i'm sure. the bliss bread which makes two loaves became the ricotta loaf due to the organization of the book. the texture was not that of a rustic bread but rather that of a soft loaf so it fell into the loaf category and i was asked to tweak it into loaf shape. but just last week, i decided to make it the way it was originally intended and gasped at the incredible softness and deliciousness of flavor—so extraordinary i knew i'd have to share it with you as soon as possible. for those of you who have the first and second printing of "the bread bible," just print it out and tuck it into the book. it's the same recipe, but shaping, rising, and baking times will vary. i added it to the third printing so it will be in all subsequent printings. By the way, note in the photos the difference in the top crust of the cut and uncut loaf. the cut loaf was one that hadn't been proofed as much during the final rise and therefore burst open a little unevenly on baking. the uncut loaf has wide openings because it was just ever so slightly underproofed--my preference--so it can have more oven spring and more attractive slashes. TIME SCHEDULE Starter: None (Straight Dough Method) Rising Time: About 3 hours plus optional overnight rise Oven Temperature: 375°F./190°C. Baking Time: 35 to 40 minutes This recipe was adapted from one that came to me as a gift from Diego Mauricio Lopez G. of Pandora bakery in Columbia South America after the publication of The Cake Bible in 1988. As I was busy at the time, I put it aside and years passed before I came across it again and tried it. This bread is incredibly quick and easy to mix and thoroughly enjoyable. It is a pleasure just to touch the dough which is as soft as a newborn's skin. It bakes into a pale yellow almost lacy, unfathomably soft crumb that can be sliced very thin. The flavor is ethereal, rich and deeply complex. I should never have waited so long! Makes: Two 7 inch by 3 1/2 inch high loaves each about 1 pound/474 grams INGREDIENTS unbleached all-purpose flour such as Gold Medal or Pillsbury sugar instant yeast, preferably or active dry yeast 2 tablespoons 1 1/2 teaspoons 2 teaspoons 1 scant ounces . 25 grams 4.8 grams 6.2 grams MEASUREMENTS 3 1/4 cups WEIGHT 17.5 ounces 500 grams

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Real Baking with Rose Levy Beranbaum: Food Processor Ricotta Bliss Bread

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whole milk ricotta, cold butter, softened 1 large egg, cold

1 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoons 7 tablespoons 3 tablespoons + 1/2 teaspoon

8.75 ounces 3.5 ounces 1.7 ounces grams

250 grams 100 grams 50

(weighed without the shell) salt water, cold Optional: Melted butter 1 1/2 teaspoons 1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) 1 tablespoon . 4.2 ounces 0.5 ounce 10 grams 118 grams 14 grams

Equipment: A baking sheet lined with parchment, or sprinkled with flour or cornmeal. A baking stone or baking sheet. If using active dry yeast proof it. To proof, dissolve it with a big pinch of the sugar in 2 tablespoons of the water warmed only to hot bath temperature, 110°F./43°C. Set it in a warm spot for 10 to 20 minutes. It should be full of bubbles. Add it when adding the ricotta. Mix the Dough In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and instant yeast. Place it in a food processor with the dough blades. Add the ricotta, softened butter, egg, and salt and pulse about 15 times. With the motor running, add the cold water. Process 60 to 80 seconds but be careful not to allow the dough to get hot—i.e. not over 80°F/27°C. The dough should be soft but not sticky. If it is not soft, spray it with a little water and pulse it in. If it is sticky, transfer it to a counter and knead in a little flour at a time. After the first rise it will become firmer and difficult to shape if it is not soft. The dough will weigh about 2 pounds, 5 ounces/1048 grams. Let the Dough Rise Place the dough into a 4 quart or larger container, coated lightly with cooking spray or oil. Press down the dough and lightly spray or oil the top of the dough. Cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap. With a piece of tape mark on the side of the container approximately where double the height would be. Allow the dough to rise, ideally at 75 to 80°F./24 to 27°C., for about 2 hours or until doubled Preheat the oven to 375°F./190°C. at least 30 minutes before baking time. Have the oven shelf at the lowest level and place an oven stone or heavy baking sheet on it and a cast iron pan on the floor of the oven before preheating. (You can line it with foil to prevent rusting.) Shape the Dough Empty the dough onto a lightly floured counter and knead it lightly to deflate it. Divide it in two (if desired, one or both can be placed in a freezer weight plastic bag(s) that has been sprayed with cooking spray and refrigerated for up to two days. The dough will develop more flavor and have a more open texture. You will need to take it out of the refrigerator about an hour before shaping.) If you are baking the same day, preshape it by pulling the edges to the top. Without flipping the dough over, use a bench scraper to move each round to a lightly floured counter. Cover them with lightly oiled plastic wrap and allow them to sit for 20 minutes or until extensible (when you pull the dough gently it stretches without tearing). Shape each piece of dough into a 4 1/2-inch by 2 3/4-inch high round. Set them at least 3-inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Place a large plastic box over them or cover with plastic wrap lightly coated with cooking spray. Let the dough rise until doubled in bulk about 1 hour. They will be about 6-inches by 3 1/4-inches high. Slash the tops with a sharp knife or straight edged razor blade. (I like to make a slash in one direction and a second slash perpendicular to it.) Mist the dough with water and quickly but gently set the baking sheet on the hot baking stone or hot baking sheet. Toss 1/2 cup of ice cubes into the pan beneath. Immediately shut the door and bake 35 to 40 minutes or until golden

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Real Baking with Rose Levy Beranbaum: Food Processor Ricotta Bliss Bread

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and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean (A instant read thermometer inserted into the center will read about 200°F./93°C.). Halfway through baking, turn the pan around for even baking. Transfer the loaves to a rack and brush with the melted butter if desired. Cool until barely warm—at least 1 hour. Note: If you prefer to use a mixer, proceed exactly as above, but have the water at room temperature. Use the dough hook on low speed (#2 Kitchen Aid) and gradually add the water. When the dough is moistened, raise the speed to medium low (#3) and knead for 10 minutes. The Rose Ratio flour: 100% water: 70.2% (Includes water contained in the cheese and egg white) yeast: 0.96% salt: 2% Butterfat: 17.5% (Includes fat contained in the egg yolk and cheese)
From the kitchen of Rose on 07.20.07 at 4:06 PM in Bread


Rose, is it posiible to use the mixer? I don´t have a food processor.
Posted by: Silvia | July 21, 2007 3:57 PM

Silvia--see the note at the bottom of the recipe.
Posted by: Matthew | July 21, 2007 5:34 PM

I am speachless, and this great recipe, method, and photo, of a perfetly formed (and slashed) bread, is what kept me focus during my travel ordeal today. Thank for explaining the science behind the food processor on bread dough. Do I need to get one of those giants 16 or 20 cup food processors? I got stuck for 4 hours at my local airport for just a 30-minute commute to Hilo, while having an 8x batch of Basic Sourdough Bread after its final flour addition. This was checked in as luggage. I scented the smell of rising bread dough as soon as my luggage appeared in the baggage carrousel.
Posted by: Hector | July 21, 2007 9:47 PM

that's hilarious! what we don't do for our dough! did i mention that a few years ago when my dermatologist asked me to come right in the following day for a possible dx of lyme's diease i told him i couldn't bc i had pumernickel bread dough rising and he always keeps me waiting so long. he must have thought the dementia was alread setting in and countered with a 7:30 am appointment promising i'd be first and no wait. i came in--did indeed have lyme's--and got back in time to shape the dough.
Posted by: Rose Levy Beranbaum | July 22, 2007 8:55 AM

Thanks for this recipe, I love the Ricotta loaf in the Bread Bible, so this one is a great treat! The only commercially made ricotta that I like is hard to get in summer (I'm not sure they even make it in warmer months), so I learned to make my own. It's so easy, I may never go back to the packaged stuff. To anyone out there who's never made their own, give it a try. I used a recipe I found online (epicurious) and had no trouble at all.
Posted by: Yet Another Anna | July 22, 2007 8:31 PM

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Oh Rose - definitely bliss indeed!
Posted by: Elicia | July 22, 2007 10:51 PM

Photos of the airport bread.
Posted by: Hector | July 22, 2007 11:32 PM

Why were you traveling with bread dough?
Posted by: Anonymous | July 23, 2007 12:21 AM

I was bringing bread for a dinner party on a neighbor island, and they wanted me to bake it on location! So I started the dough the day before flying.
Posted by: Hector | July 23, 2007 4:25 AM

Rose, I'm sorry, after I sent the comment, I reread the recipe (slowly, this time), and noticed the final note bout the mixer. I'll try the recipe, it's such a beautiful bread!
Posted by: Silvia | July 23, 2007 12:42 PM

i couldn't decide where to place that note so i understand how it could have been missed. just wait til you taste this bread and the texture....i'm shocked each time by just how wonderful it is. and lightly toasted the next day....
Posted by: Rose Levy Beranbaum | July 23, 2007 12:47 PM

For many years, I've been making the loaf version of this recipe from "The Bread Bible." It is utterly sublime, almost like a pound cake. My favorite accompaniment is homemade concord grape jelly (I grow my own grapes). I like the loaf shape because it makes attractive slices, but I'll have to try the freeform version you've posted here to see which I prefer!
Posted by: Christine | July 23, 2007 4:58 PM

Rose, the "rose ratio" below is the ratio of your recipe? I am afraid I don´t understand very weel how do you shape the bread (i'm still a novice and shaping is difficult for me, because I have problems with my hands).
Posted by: Silvia | July 23, 2007 6:49 PM

Hector, you deserve a medal!!! These dutch ovens with the breads inside must have been pretty heavy!!!
Posted by: Silvia | July 23, 2007 7:58 PM

Hector, you deserve a medal!!! These dutch ovens with the bread dough inside must have been pretty heavy!!!
Posted by: Silvia | July 23, 2007 8:02 PM

Silvia, I need to share with you that part of the Airport ordeal was been rejected at the boarding gate. I put the dutch ovens in my rolling carry on. I treasure these pots so much that can't trust checking them in as luggage. For some

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reason the boarding gate guard asked me to weight my carry on, and it went over 25 lbs (according to his biceps because he did not have a scale). He asked me to return to the ticket counter and check them in. At the ticket counter, I 'got smart' and removed one of the pots and placed it in my computer bag. It worked beautifully, my rolling carry on was under 25 lbs, and my laptop bag was just normal because I happen to not be carrying my laptop that day! I could not resist to TELL the boarding gate guard to get a scale next time!
Posted by: Hector | July 23, 2007 8:20 PM

Hector, I understand you concern for your pots, I have 2 cast iron skillets, one small dutch oven and a bright red enameled one (that makes me happy whenever I look at it!). What you did was really clever and funny.
Posted by: Silvia | July 24, 2007 5:24 PM

Rose, My oven doesn't have a floor, the heating element is exposed, and looks too flimsy to support a pot filled with ice (is it safe, anyway, or would the element get damaged?). I could place the rack with the bread in the middle, and the big, dark "pan/rack" used to catch drippings in the lowest part of the oven, below the bread. Would this idea work, or does the bread need more direct heat? There´s been a craze lightly for "healthy, fat-free, "light" foods, and whole milk cottage is now difficult to find. I know, "light" cottage cheese is not the same, but can I use it?
Posted by: Silvia | July 24, 2007 5:37 PM

Silvia, your idea will work. Actually, you don't want your bread exposed to the heating element directly. It is the heat surrounding your oven what your bread needs and should be around 475oF. The heating element is way hotter than that, so it will burn your bread. After the ice evaporates, that pan/rack will work to dissipate your heating element source well. If that pan/rack can be made or cast iron, even better.
Posted by: Hector | July 24, 2007 6:36 PM

first I am devoted to your web sight the recipes are absolutely the best I do have trouble trying to recieve your newsletter. I apply and to no avail do I receive any. a question I have is there a way to find out how to make bread using red cabbage fermation in place of yeast.
Posted by: margaret | July 26, 2007 6:36 AM

i've asked my blog master is he can subscribe you. are you sure you're putting in all the info as this is the first i've heard of it failing. i have no experience whatsoever with cabbage fermentation--i've never even heard of it. maybe someone else on the blog will chime in.
Posted by: Rose Levy Beranbaum | July 26, 2007 7:44 AM

Rose, I've just received my Bread Bible!!! i'm soooo excited! it's a beautiful book, nicely illustrated (just what i needed, as I'm learning alone)and I love the big, easy to read text!

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Posted by: Silvia | July 26, 2007 4:56 PM

Rose, please remind forgetful people like me that you do indeed need a large food processor. I have the 7cup Cuisinart. I was a bit distracted or having yet another senior moment and suddenly the bowl of the processor was full to the brim - and that was just the dry ingredients. I panicked and went ahead and added the rest, and I was sure I had blown the machine up. That was when a neighbor stopped by to visit! I left the whole mess alone while we visited and ended up scraping the dough out and kneading in some flour. It is rising now and looks fine, fingers crossed, Annie
Posted by: Ann Timms | July 27, 2007 9:06 PM

fine to divide the recipe in half and make one at a time--after all, it only takes seconds to mix and that way you don't have to divide the dough in half afterwards!
Posted by: Rose Levy Beranbaum | July 28, 2007 9:52 AM

I made this bread today, but when I was assembling the ingredients, I realized that I couldn't find the ricotta cheese that I thought I had. I used cottage cheese instead and the bread was absolutely wonderful. Thank you so much for this recipe.
Posted by: Linda Licker | August 7, 2007 10:12 PM

Margaret - there is a bread recipe in Baking with Julia that usesgrape fermentation instead of dry yeast - I wonder if it is similar to a cabbage fermentation?
Posted by: Patrincia | August 8, 2007 10:24 AM

Mmm... wonder if the Ricotta Bliss Bread works with mascarpone or cream cheese?
Posted by: Elicia | August 8, 2007 10:42 AM

Thank you for this variation on the ricotta loaf from TBB. This is an incredible bread--so soft and tender, yet full of character. And the taste is unforgettable. I used thick homemade ricotta from an Italian deli instead of supermarket ricotta, and the result was, as you say, bliss. Marie
Posted by: marie wolf | August 12, 2007 1:36 PM

Tried to find ricotta recipe at Epicurious site. No luck. Anyone have a link to it or another tested recipe. Txs - Markat
Posted by: Markat | August 13, 2007 12:51 PM

Do you mean a recipe to make ricotta cheese?
Posted by: Patrincia | August 13, 2007 2:24 PM

Markat, here is the link to the Epicurious ricotta recipe. Rozanne

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Posted by: Rozanne | August 13, 2007 5:10 PM

Hi Rose et al, I used the ricotta recipe in the epicurious link provided above and made the ricotta bliss bread. My loaves were much flatter and wider than the ones pictured here (click on my name to see photos of my bread) - any idea what I might have done differently? I thought I followed the directions exactly, but it doesn't look like it! LOL. It was tasty, and my husband and I enjoyed an entire loaf before it had time to cool, but I'm just pondering about the shape. Thanks for your feedback!
Posted by: June | August 28, 2007 9:13 PM

June, did you place your baking sheet on a preheated baking stone? Did you placed ice cubes on a sizzling pan at the beginning? Did you use high quality unbleached flour? Perhaps your bread may have risen for too long during the final shaping. In any case, your bread looks delicious, and the color is superb!
Posted by: Hector | August 28, 2007 9:18 PM

June, I suspect it has to do with the shaping for the final rise. If you don't form enough surface tension on your boule by turning it on your counter, then it will spread out during the final rise. I would guess that it probably had already spread out somewhat before you baked it. It should work by increasing the tension during shaping; alternatives would be different types of restraints--a banneton for rising, or a cast iron pot or loaf pan for baking--to keep the dough from spreading out. I think they look great as they are though.
Posted by: Matthew | August 28, 2007 11:18 PM

Oh my is this bread ever good!!! The family just finished inhaling the first boule and I've been smacking fingers to keep them away from the second. Will make a second batch immediately.
Posted by: Patrincia | September 3, 2007 3:40 PM

Can anyone tell me the store time for this bread (from the ricotta loaf recipe in the bread bible). Thanks!
Posted by: Patrincia | September 3, 2007 4:00 PM

I tried making the ricotta cheese following the recipe from Epicurious and no.1 I am not sure about the recipe. It calls for 2 quart of whole mik and 1 cup of heavy cream ,0.5t salt and 3 T lemon juice will yield 2 cups of cheese,the ingredients are simple but how much is 1 quart? I am not sure so I googled and find 1 US quart =0.95 litre and 1 British Quart =1.3 litre. Wow. that seems quite a lot so I half the recipe, taking the reference of US quart and the result was I end up with 780gm of cheese with high water content.I drained for much more than the required time hoping to get rid of as much water as possible. I used 370 gm of this cheese(omit the water required for the bread) to make the ricotta bread and the dough is in the fridge now. I shall bake it tonight. June , when you made your cheese with tis recipe ,did you encounter similarly , did your cheese came out thick or thin?Would it be the cheese that make your bread spread ? I had made this bread 1 year ago using ricotta from supermarket and I found it soso. As this raved so many good remark lately , I am giving it a try again.
Posted by: cindy Chiu | September 6, 2007 12:47 AM

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I have to say there is a great difference with this Ricotta bliss from my last experience of the ricotta loaf. Despite the wateriness of the homemade ricotta, this bread turned out flavourful and soft. Rose and buddies, thank you for bringing me back to it.Cheers! ricotta bliss the crumb
Posted by: cindy Chiu | September 6, 2007 8:18 PM

Lovely Cindy! Looks like I have to try it with homemade ricotta now!
Posted by: Elicia | September 6, 2007 10:08 PM

Elicia, try to ensure the amount of whole milk needed for the cheese and do share with me the result. I do not know whether the Home made ricotta chees should be that soft and watery.Good luck.
Posted by: cindy Chiu | September 7, 2007 1:36 AM

Cindy, You did a wonderful job. The bread looks fantastic!
Posted by: Matthew | September 7, 2007 8:08 AM

Will definitely update you, Cindy! Probably trying it end Sept - am suddenly doing 2 functions this month!
Posted by: Elicia | September 7, 2007 8:19 AM

Thank you Matthew for your encouragement. Elicia, take your time.
Posted by: cindy chiu | September 7, 2007 9:01 AM

Can someone tell me if the Bread Bible give storage times for the ricotta loaf? My kids are in love with this bread, and my husband is pretty fond of it as well! My youngest said she woke up in the middle of the night because she smelled it baking (I guess 1am is the middle of the night to a 9 year old). Anyway, you should have seen how quickly all the kids' groggy, squinty eyes opened when they came down to breakfast then next morning!
Posted by: Patrincia | September 7, 2007 9:24 AM

Patrincia, No, the BB does not give storage times. It has been a couple of months since I made this, but I think I remember it starting to dry out by the 4th day (maybe the 3rd). It has a fairly high amount of fat, so that helps it keep, but it usually gets consumed so quickly that storage isn't an issue. Rose recommends freezing slices for longer storage.
Posted by: Matthew | September 7, 2007 9:31 AM

sweet, patrincia!
Posted by: Rose Levy Beranbaum | September 7, 2007 9:52 AM

Thanks Matthew - I have to say this bread doesn't live long enough to worry about short term storage :).

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I was wondering specifically about freezer storage. I wrapped a whole boule and tucked it into the freezer just last night, but next time I'll slice it first! Thanks so much!
Posted by: Patrincia | September 7, 2007 10:06 AM

Rose - So glad you are back!
Posted by: Patrincia | September 7, 2007 10:11 AM

Cindy, your ricotta bread LOOKS awesome! It really makes me want to jump into my bread dough bowl and start breading away. I will need to search on how you do home made ricotta! Matthew, I have been organizing my freezer and have these kumquat butter balls stored since April. It is just unsalted butter, chopped kumquat, and salt, originally used as spread for bread and butter. I have so many of these balls, that I will need to use them somehow. I plan to add 1 ball (they are the size of a ping pong ball) to the Basic Sourdough Bread with 50% less water, instead of salt. I think the bread will come moister if not fatter =) Of course I can use the balls for pasta, too, but I am trying to keep slim! BTW, thanks goodness to the Tilia Foodsaver, it is amazing how much you can do with it in the freezer. Patrincia, I freeze bread all the time. In fact, I don't waste anything! I know it isn't recommended to freeze bread for several months, but I have frozen bread (and bread parts) for as long as 6 months. The huge bread party in April took me up to July to finish eating it! I wrap the bread in double layers of plastic wrap, or foil. To thaw, I take it straight from freezer to room temperature, still wrapped, and wait until it has thawed, about 2 hours for a thick slice, or overnight for an entire loaf. And yes, I usually store sliced bread, about 4 or 6 slice thick, just happends to be how much I can eat in a couple of days. For the Basic Sourdough Bread, that I exclusively use for grilled paninis (with full % of water), I do freeze it, but then during the eating days, I always keep it in the refrigerator, wrapped; sounds like a no-no (to refrigerate bread) but for some reason the bread stores fine in the refrigerator. Perhaps because I throw it on the hot panini press straight from the refrigerator, or perhaps is because my refrigerator is at border line freezing temperature (30-32oF), or perhaps the acidity in the sourdough prevents the bread to build moisture in the crumb, or perhaps the added moisture from refrigeration is a bonus for grilled paninis which do love to start with a 'wet' bread. My 'perhaps' may also apply to the reason my sourdough bread stores frozen for so long! FYI, I will be on Washington DC for vacation from 10/6 to 10/10. Where are the eating joints? Any blogger out there near the vicinity? I plan to carry Linzertorte with me! Happy baking.
Posted by: Hector | September 7, 2007 3:14 PM

This weekend, I baked the ricotta bliss bread. Unfortunatedly, I forgot to mix in the salt, before the first rising, and had to add it after it...I think that was my mistake...the dough deflated and looked very very uneven, was difficult to shape(perhaps it was also a very little bit dry, and didn´t rise very much. I also had the idea of bake it in the dutch oven, with the lid on. The bread had a thick, crumbly crust and a tight, though delicious crumb. it was very difficult to slice, too. I still have the remaining half of the dough in the fridge, and plan to bake it tonight, without the dutch oven. Do you think it was the dutch oven´s fault that caused the hard crumbly crust? Or perhaps, the dough was a bit too dry (it was very soft and didn´t look especially dry to my untrained eye)? Or was it becuase I used allpurpose flour, 13% protein (no idea if it's bleached or unbleached)? Rose, this bread reminded me of my granma's "pan dulce" (sweet bread, a kind of brioche). I knew that the smell, the colour and softness of the crumb, and its taste, reminded me of something dear, comforting and delicious that I had tasted before. It's amazing, granny died when i was about 3 or 4 years old, and I had, apparently, forgotten her bread. And perhaps you should try it with butter and guava´s absolutely delicious!

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Posted by: Silvia | September 10, 2007 2:39 PM

there are a lot of things going on here. you don't want higher than 11.7-12% protein and i think the dutch oven is not right for this bread--but you'll know for sure when you bake the rest of the dough without it. but it still sounds like you had a lovely and memory filled taste experience! do try it again--it's really such a quick and easy bread to make. tip: i always set out all the ingredients near the mixer or food processor so i don't forget to add anything though by now it's so routine to me that i almost don't need to. almost!
Posted by: Rose Levy Beranbaum | September 10, 2007 10:01 PM

Hector, check out Their food critic, Tom Sietsema, writes columns about area restaurants, and also has a weekly online chat on Wednesdays at 11:00. I don't live anywhere near there, but I love to read the transcripts of the chats. (Yes, I am weird.) Go onto the site (you'll have to register) and search under "Ask Tom" - you will get links to his past chats and columns. Maybe you can put in a question for tomorrow's chat if you are so inclined. You may get some ideas just from reading the past reviews and chats.
Posted by: Theresa | September 11, 2007 10:19 AM

Rose, actually, the flour had 11-12% protein and was bleached (all AP flour here is bleached.) Though i try to be very careful, prepare and weigh all the ingredients beforehand, I imagine somewhere I made a mistake (appart from using the dutch oven!). Yesterday´s loaf also had a thick crust and was crumbly. The flavour was different, don´t know how to explain it...more sour? Of course i'll try it again, but first I want to try another recipe!!! Perhaps ciabatta, or the olive bread... I also want to bake the basic hearth bread with seeds in it...Oh, Rose, this book makes me want to have more time and try all the recipes!
Posted by: Silvia | September 11, 2007 4:49 PM

I tried this bread also over the weekend for the first time after reading all of the reviews. I also thought about using the dutch oven method and decided to bake half the dough on Sunday when I made it (on a baking sheet as in the recipe) and bake the other half on Tuesday after refrigerating it per the instructions (using the dutch oven). Sunday's loaf was just as described. It had a wonderful taste and texture with the incredible softness described. The loaf on Tuesday didn't turn out as well, but I'm not ready to blame the dutch oven yet. I took it out of the refrigerator a little over an hour before shaping, but it never really rose. I'd say it only expanded by 1/4 to 1/3, it certainly didn't double, and I finally decided to bake it anyway after close to 2 hours (post-shaping). It had a decent spring in the dutch oven, but it was much smaller and denser than the other half on Sunday. I'm definitely making the bread again, so I'll try the dutch oven when the dough is fresh.
Posted by: Brian | September 12, 2007 5:29 PM

Brian, didn´t you get a too thick crust? Curiosly, my first loaf didn´t rise as much as the colder (I took it out of the fridge 1 hour before baking), second one. The second had deffinitedly a sharper cheese flavour than the second, but it was drier. Rose, what causes the thick crust?
Posted by: Silvia | September 12, 2007 6:45 PM

thick crust is usually from baking at a lower a temperature.
Posted by: Rose Levy Beranbaum | September 13, 2007 12:28 PM

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Silvia, try the Focaccia with caramelized onions. I've had some today that I've kept in the freezer, popped them in the microwave for a few seconds to steam heat, and it was delicioso!
Posted by: Hector | September 13, 2007 3:36 PM

Rose, the temp was the same you say in the book (I have two oven thermometers), perhaps I baked it for too long...I need a timer, too! And I'm dying to try the cottage and dill variation! hector, I want to try soooo many things, i don´t know where to start!!!! I need more time...(and more money, I don´t want to look at my power bill this month). yes, I read about the focaccia with onions and it sounds...tempting to sat the least. I also have to try the sourdough..and of course, the triple chocolate body is asking for a lot of chocolate!
Posted by: Silvia | September 13, 2007 4:01 PM

there are only two reasons i know of for a thick crust--low temperature or too much moisture for too long a time!
Posted by: Rose Levy Beranbaum | September 14, 2007 1:41 PM

Interesting, so if I put too much ice in the pan at the bottom of my oven, I might get too thick a crust? What would happen if I didn't spritz the bread surface with water?
Posted by: Patrincia | September 14, 2007 5:14 PM

Why would an excess moisture during a long time harden the crust? I'm curious...
Posted by: Silvia | September 14, 2007 6:05 PM

It is called gelatinization. Moisture makes the ‘skin’ of the dough wet, and the longer it is exposed to moisture, the thicker the ‘skin’ will be (you can use the example of spraying several times a stack of papers, initially only the top sheets are wet, but with more spray more sheets will be wet). As the baking ends, this wet skin sets into crust as it dries. This wet skin is like a glaze on your dough, it feels like gelatin thus the name, it has a different texture than the inside of the bread. It is easy to prove. Keep your dutch oven lid for 10 minutes instead of 5, and you will notice a much thicker crust. Now, I hope you agree that crusts are actually delicious to eat!
Posted by: Hector | September 14, 2007 6:17 PM

Patrincia, in general, bread baking requires vapor only during the formation of the crust and during the oven spring stage, the first 5 minutes (in as much as fogging your oven window). After that it isn’t desirable, not needed, a waste if you think of it. Placing 4 or 5 ice cubes on a preheated cast iron skillet would sizzle out in 5 minutes. Having more ice cubes after this time usually turns into a puddle of water because the oven is no longer that hot to sizzle the ‘now water’ into vapor. This water pool will sit there for too much time, keeping your oven air unnecessarily high when you need dry air to bake and turn your dough into the beautiful golden crisp color of bread! Indeed, many recipes call for cracking the oven door towards the end of baking to keep the air dry, even the natural moisture from the bread dough needs to go away! Spraying has the same effect as the vapor. I prefer vapor from ice cubes because you don’t need to open the oven thus loosing heat, and it is much unattended.

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Of course, there are several breads that require you to follow a different vapor schedule, usually to achieve a thicker or crisper crust, or to achieve a spongy texture. I love bread baking! It is so ultimate!

Posted by: Hector | September 14, 2007 6:29 PM

Thanks Hector. So when you make the ricotta bliss bread, do you spray and use the ice cubes? I didn't have a spray bottle, so I added a couple of extra ice cubes and I did get a thicker crust than I though I should get... not that there's anything wrong with that. How would I get a thinner, chewy, kind of shinier crust?
Posted by: Patrincia | September 14, 2007 6:52 PM

Actually, I have never made this bread. I was just writing the general theory of bread baking. Try using only enough ice cubes that will sizzle out in 5 minutes (1 or 2 cube?) Also, spraying during crust formation (beginning of baking) affects the crust thickness. You can try spraying at the end of baking (after the crust has formed) so the crust will become chewy soft. And THAT is all I know.
Posted by: Hector | September 14, 2007 6:58 PM

Oh, thought you had made it before. Is anyone familiar with the little individual sourdough breads that are served with soup at Panera Bread? That's the kind of crust I'd like to acheive (if not on this bread, then another).
Posted by: Patrincia | September 14, 2007 7:04 PM

ok, one more thing. I am still experimenting with the Basic Sourdough Bread, making note on how the different variables affect. Crust is so subjective and so variable. I believe that if you want your bread to be like someone else's, then you will need to bake your bread at that someone else's premises. Many other variables affect bread baking, like season, temperature, air, etc. Rose mention in BB that she almost 'gave up' on bread baking because the same bread would not come out the same each time! Most 'brand name' breads are baked at one central facility and then distributed across the nation, thus you have consistency. Now, most 'freshly baked' brand name breads you now find at local supermarkets are also baked at one central facility, prebaked to almost fully baked, then frozen, and finish baking at the local facility.
Posted by: Hector | September 14, 2007 7:14 PM

Okay everyone, the family liked this bread so much, I'm inspired to check-out the library copy of the bread bible and give it a test run before I decide if bread baking is something I'd like to do more of. Any suggestions on which recipes I should try? (I have a 5qt KitchenAid and an 11-cup food processor, but no bread machine)
Posted by: Patrincia | September 15, 2007 7:38 AM

Patrincia, I agree that this bread is the wrong one to get the crust you are looking for--it has too much fat and is baked at too

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low of a temp. The bread that first comes to mind that would fit your description is the basic hearth bread. If you made the slightly sour variation, it would probably be even better for the bowls, but you will really like it as is.
Posted by: Matthew | September 15, 2007 8:17 AM

Thanks so much Matthew! What other bread recipes do you like from the BB? (not necessarily with the kind of crust I described above).
Posted by: Patrincia | September 15, 2007 8:45 AM

That is a hard question! Chapter 4--I love all of the potato breads and the cinnamon bread. My favorite for sandwiches is the cracked wheat. Chapter 5--Any of the fruit/nut breads (raisin pecan, fig almond, cranberry walnut), pumpernickel, basic hearth are my faves. I also love the English and the blueberry muffins and the pizza with oven-dried tomatoes. If you have time, always try to do the maximum flavor development where offered--it pays off. If you want something to make today, try a quick bread or something that uses the straight-dough method.
Posted by: Matthew | September 15, 2007 8:59 AM

Oh Matthew, I can tell you like bread! I have yet to find a decent pumpernickel since moving out of NYC, so that recipe will have to be at the top of my list! Thanks for all the great suggestions!
Posted by: Patrincia | September 15, 2007 9:51 AM

and don't forget the stud muffin (uses the food processor to great effect)!!! i'm making the corn spoon bread tonight-goes so perfectly with baby back ribs.
Posted by: Rose Levy Beranbaum | September 15, 2007 1:39 PM

Stud Muffin... what a great name! Okay, I'll add them to the list - Thanks Rose!
Posted by: Patrincia | September 15, 2007 1:46 PM

it looks like a giant muffin and is studded with cheddar cheese.
Posted by: Rose Levy Beranbaum | September 15, 2007 1:48 PM

too much ice would only serve to cool down the oven too much. if you don't spritz the surface of the dough it may not develop as crisp a crust unless you use one of those great steam makers i wrote about on this blog that produces a huge amount of steam! i used the lid with it for my burger buns two nights ago and boy did they puff up and crisp as well. so many ways to go about bread baking--one just has to find what works best with the equipment at hand.
Posted by: Rose Levy Beranbaum | September 15, 2007 1:57 PM

Rose, thanks fort he information. Yesterday I baked the Cinnnamon Bread and it was really good. Toasted and with sour cream, it made a scumptious breakfast today. Thanks to your bread, I'm putting on the weight that my doctor wanted. it's a pleasure to follow her indications, if you hace these grea bread at hand!

Patrinica, I think the basic hearth bread has a crust you'd like. It's a delicious bread. I found yesterday a slice from

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this bread in the bottom of my fridge and toasted it... it tasted as good as fresh and the crust was crisp but not though. Hector, I don´t mind getting crusty bread (actually find crust delicious), but the first ricotta bread had a *very* thick, hard crust... and so did my first NKB, an electric saw would have been needed to slice it!
Posted by: Silvia | September 17, 2007 12:17 PM

Thanks for the suggestion Silvia! I picked up TBB this morning... will be thumbing through it for most of the day :).
Posted by: Patrincia | September 17, 2007 12:46 PM


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