Check out Facebook page of Massimo Vitale. Recently he posted what is known as a "ciambella Romagnola," which sometimes translated as a ring cake, reminds me of a torpedo of dough. Massimo posted to enjoy it with white wine, specifically moscato. He's right. Enjoy.
Kamel Saci is a baker who grew up in Toulouse, but now lives and works in New York City, baking at Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria. Among many things for which to admire him, I love his doughs for pizza and focaccia. Basic and simple, he's posted the recipe on his website.
His focaccia fino is particularly interesting, a no-shape loaf of bread that is imbibed in olive oil and cut straight from a slab of airy dough, then baked directly to a golden sweet finish. Given my penchant for sourdough, I adapted it. There's an amazing shelf life and sweetness to this dough. Here is what I got from a mixed hybrid adaption as I ran low of yeast!
Having seen erratic taste and texture in recent bakes, I lessened the liquid in my sourdough to see if it improved my bakes. And thinking that weak protein from local flour (farmed and milled in NY State) had a negative impact, I also refreshed my levain by adding some store bought flour, figuring it might correct those issues.
It did lead to a better crumb and crust coming out of my oven. A recent visit with baker-extraordinaire Kamel Saci, (from Il Buco Alimentari) helped, too, as he shared his secret of heating water for levain, adding it to the flour, allowing to cool enough, then adding the sourdough seed! I thought it odd, but tasting and seeing his bread and his advice, I was converted. Thank you, Kamel, for a lovely loaf.
Recently baker Uri Scheft (from Manhattan-based Breads Bakery) invited me to join his crew and some students to mix, and shape three different breads. It gave me a great opportunity to see Uri shape his famous challah bread in various braids - from two to six strands. It was also great to hear Uri use the four hour workshop to explain his approach. Here are some shots from the class.
Early last Saturday morning I spent a few hours with bread baker Kamel Saci of Il buco alimentari & vinieria. Instead of our baking together, we shared stories of the business, talking bread and trends as he went about his day and I took photographs.
A natural born leader, Kamel guides a team of assistants, all the time teaching, encouraging, trading laughter. Watching him work in a tight kitchen, I was amazed by his organization, output and quality of products. The morning left me with his multiple tips on refreshing my levain, so, merci, Kamel!
This past weekend I took a class with James Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery. The class was labeled as "Three breads, one dough," and based on Lahey's now famous no-knead dough technique. The class was quite simple in theory, but I walked out filled with techniques and ideas. James is a great teacher, story teller, and believer in craftsmanship.
Antonio Cepas Alonso is a great baker in Toledo (Spain, not Ohio) working at Benipan. Just a few months ago he took a bread I adapted, a pumpernickel and he made his even more remarkable. So one day my sourdough was quite active and I made his nut and seed loaf again, and wow, better then ever.
Bread blogger Barbara Elisi, a Roman baker living in Sweden, recently explored the meaning of companatico. From Latin "cum panis" (with bread) she explained that it comes from the same ethymology as compagno; friend. As in friend with whom to share bread - compagno or cum panis.
In keeping with that idea, I decided to give her formula that incorporated barley, spelt and wheat flours a go. She gave me some ideas of parameters and percents. With Breadstorm as my guide, I popped this formula out between shifts at work. Hectic baking! What came out of the oven was something I'd definitely share with a friend. Grazie Barbara!
It's always interesting to speak with James Lahey,protagonist of "no knead" bread and owner of New York's pizza restaurant, Sullivan Street Bakery. Recently, James and I connected on Facebook and he invited me down to watch him making some pizza at his Chelsea-based bakery. James is an encyclopedia of all sorts of information. We talked while he tossed dough, sharing his knowledge while he topped the pies. Here are some photos of the evening.