Royal Crown’s Tortano*

According to Maggie Glezer in Artisan Baking, Tortano is the “most beautiful bread…”

Royal Crown Bakeries in Brooklyn, New York makes. It’s also one of my favorite rustic breads. However, it requires much patience. Although not really complicated to make, it does take about eighteen hours to complete.

The mashed potato gives this bread its distinct flavor and texture. The crust is thin and crispy, the crumb is soft and delicate, and it’s filled with an abundance of attractively formed wholes created by the long fermentation process. It is great eaten as is, or sliced thin and slightly toasted for crostini.

This is one of those things in life worth the time and effort. Once you go through the process once. The second time is a walk through the park, a very long walk through the park.

Method: Pre-Ferment (sponge)

Mixing Time and Speed: 15 to 20 minutes at medium speed

Fermentation:

Sponge - Overnight

Dough – 5 to 6 Hours

Quantity: 1-2¼ lbs. round or 2 – 1¼

Oven Temperature and Time: 450ºF for about 45 minutes to 1 hour

Equipment

ScaleTimer

6 quart mixer and mixing bowl fitted with a dough hook

Proofing bowl

Plastic wrap

Lame or razor blade to score loaf

No edge cookie sheet or pizza peel

Parchment lined sheet pans dusted with cornmeal

Ingredients Volume

Sponge

Water 1 cup

Instant Yeast ¼ tsp.

Bread Flour ½ cup

Potato 1 small potato

Dough

Bread Flour 3 ½ cups

Water 1 ¾ cups + 3 Tbsp.

Sponge

Honey 2 tsp.

Potato Purée ¼ cup packed

Salt 1 Tbsp.

Procedure:

Sponge

  1. Stir yeast into water. Let it rest for 10 minutes to activate.

  2. Add 1/3 cup of the water with the yeast to the bread flour. Discard the rest of the water.

  3. Mix well and cover for 12 hours. It will have developed into a bubbly, sharp tasting batter when ready to use.

  4. Cook the potato in water until it is easily pierced with a knife. Save the water and potato refrigerated to use the next day.

Dough

  1. The next day, add the reserved potato water to a measuring cup. Add the additional water required achieve the total amount of water needed for the dough.

  2. In a mixing bowl add the water and flour. Mix until you have a wet dough. Cover and rest for 20 minutes. This extra step in the bread making process is called autolyse. It is used in artisanal breads. It allows the starch molecules in the flour to fully hydrate.

  3. After the allotted time has passed, add the sponge, honey, ¼ cup of the potato purée, and salt. Mix on medium-high speed for 15 to 20 minutes. The dough should be silky yet slack and should clean the bowl as it’s worked.

  4. Shape the dough into a ball while rolling it in flour. Place it in a container at least 3 times its size. Let it ferment until doubled in size, about 4 hours. Dust your board generously and fold the dough in 20-minute intervals 4 times then leave it undisturbed for the duration of the 4 hours. Be sure not to over-ferment until it falls into itself or it will result in a poor structured and off tasting product.

  5. Once the dough has doubled in size, turn out onto a generously floured surface. If you are making 1 loaf round it and cover loosely with plastic wrap and bench rest it for 20 minutes. If making 2 loaves, divided the dough evenly into 2 rounds, cover each with plastic wrap before bench resting for the 20 minutes.

  6. Once the dough has rested. Place each round on a cookie sheet lined with parchment that has been sprinkled with flour or cornmeal. Sprinkle a generous amount of flour on the center of round. With your fingers, push into the center of the dough, and begin to enlarge the hole until it’s about 4 inches wide and the loaf is about 12 inches in diameter. Loosely cover each ring with plastic wrap and let ferment until double in size, about 1½ hours.

  7. In the mean time, place a rack on the 2nd to the top shelf. If you are using a stone, place it in the oven now. Remove the other racks in the oven. Preheat the oven to 450°F.

  8. When ready to bake, Bake one-bread at a time unless you can fit both breads on the top rack. It will double in size while baking.

  9. Slide the dough and parchment onto the stone. If you're not using a stone you may want to double pan the bread so the bottom doesn’t burn before the top is done.

  10. Bake until the crust is very dark brown, about 1 hour. Check it every 15 minutes.

  11. When done baking, take the bread out of the oven and place the loaf a cooling rack to cool. Cool until warm before serving.The bread freezes well after completely cooled. Re-heat in a hot oven to recondition before serving.

*Adapted from Maggie Glezer: (2000, 236p) ISBN: 9781579652913

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