Bread with a Topknot (BBB May 2022)

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BBB: Let's Keep Baking summary: recipe for Pan Gallego (Galician Topknot Bread) aka pan Gallego de moña; slack dough again; using a new (for me) mixing technique; some will say it’s unorthodox…; information about Bread Baking Babes;

El pan Gallego. Pan de miga, con corteza crujiente. To die for

Bread Baking Babes (BBB): Pan Gallego (Bread of Galicia)

For this month’s BBBabes’ project, Cathy (Bread Experience) chose pan Gallego, a rustic-looking bread from Spain – specifically Galicia. The bread we made has the coolest-looking topknot on it. Celtic Knot

At first I thought the knot was supposed to be a Celtic knot, because Galicia was originally a Celtic settlement. A Celtic knot is one that has no beginning or end, to represent eternity. Which makes complete sense for bread, don’t you think? What with bread being “the staff of life”….

Un auténtico pan gallego de moña es todo un monumento en Galicia [An authentic Galician topknot bread is a monument in Galicia]
– Recetas de Rechupete | Pan gallego de moña
1. [de pelo] bun chignon (en lo alto de la cabeza) topknot […]
2. (Ornithology) crest
Collins Spanish-English Dictionary
1. a knot of hair arranged on the top of the head.
    1.1 a decorative knot or bow of ribbon worn on the top of the head, popular in the 18th century.
    1.2 (in an animal or bird) a tuft or crest of hair or feathers.
– Lexico (Powered by Oxford) topknot

But the dough for pan Gallego is rather slack; it is not exactly easy to create an intricate knot with it. :lalala:

pan Gallego

Pan Gallego is a traditional Spanish crusty bread originating from Galicia. It is characterized by a soft and springy crumb with many air pockets and a hard crust, depending on the variety. […] There are four types of loaves – the bolo or hogaza, a misshapen round loaf with small cracks on the upper part and often with a topknot; the rosca, an irregular and flat ring of bread; the bola or torta, which is round and flat; and the barra, a baguette-type loaf.
– Taste Atlas | Pan Gallego

Pocos panes de España tienen tanto renombre como el Pan Gallego, pero quizás por la misma razón es también demasiado frecuente encontrar en panaderías (fuera de Galicia) o en recetas dispersas por el amplio mundo virtual, un producto que de gallego solo tiene el eso, el nombre. Y es que el nombre de “Pan Gallego” se utiliza, excepto en Galicia, claro, para describir un tipo de pan con características más o menos similares a las que habría de tener el original. […]
Bollete de moño (Barco de Valdeorras ) o Moña (Ourense): Hogaza abombada, de miga oscura y esponjosa, con corteza crujiente y rugosa que presenta una prominencia denominada moño o moña, a modo de pezón central. Esta pieza se encuadraría en los llamados panes femeninos. […] ¿Qué podemos por tanto denominar como Pan Gallego? Según los panaderos de Galicia, dicha denominación solo puede otorgarse a un pan elaborado con un porcentaje entre 20 y 50% de harina de trigo o centeno llamado “del país”, la famosa Fariña Galega. [Few breads from Spain are as renowned as the Bread of Galicia, but perhaps for the same reason it is also too common to find in bakeries (outside Galicia) or in recipes scattered throughout the wide virtual world, a product that is Galician in only that, the name. And it is that the name “Galician Bread” is used, except in Galicia, of course, to describe a type of bread with characteristics more or less similar to those that the original would have. […]
Bollete de moño (Barco de Valdeorras) or Moña (Ourense): Convex loaf, with a dark and spongy crumb, with a crunchy and rough crust that has a prominence called bun or topknot, as a central nipple. This piece would fit into the so-called feminine breads. […] What can we therefore call Galician Bread? According to Galician bakers, this denomination can only be given to a bread made with a percentage between 20 and 50% of wheat or rye flour called “from the country”, the famous Fariña Galega. ]

– Panis Nostrum | Panes tradicionales de Galicia
Bread from every Spanish-speaking country intrigues me, so I knew I had to investigate the various bread-making techniques from Spain. I came across photos of pan Gallego, or Galician bread, and had never seen anything like it. The rustic shape and nature of it do not call for a score before baking, which is always a plus for me. With a dark, caramelized crust and a very distinct knot tied on the top of the loaf, this was worth researching. […] I spoke with bakers in the area who […] told me that the magic of pan Gallego is all in the knot! You want enough rye flour to give the crumb a distinct speckle, but enough strength to be able to knot the dough before baking.
– Bryan Ford, New World Sourdough, Chapter 2: Rustic Breads | Pan Gallego (Bread of Galicia)

Here’s what I did to the BBBabes’ May 2022 recipe:

BBB Pan Gallego diary:

5 April 2022, 18:14 This really looks like my kind of bread! And I love that top swirl.

2 May 2022, 13:12 Rather than read the intructions in the BBB recipe (read the actual instruction??! :lalala: ), I looked at various sources to see how people create the topknots on brioche à tête.

With a bench scraper, cutting straight down, cut off a scant 1/3 piece of this dough. Set aside. Shape the remaining 2/3 dough piece into a ball on a VERY lightly floured surface and drop into the prepared pan. […] Roll the smaller piece of dough that has been set aside, into a pear shape. Use your fingers to make an indentation in the center of the dough that is in the brioche pan,
and fit the narrow end of the ball into the depression.
– Sarah Phillips, Crafty Baking (formerly baking911)| Brioche a Tete

With your hands, roll [a piece of dough] into a 12-inch-long rope. […] Wrap the dough around your fingers into a loose knot; there should be about 2 inches of dough free at each end. […] Wrap the left end of the dough up and over the loop. […] Wrap the right end down and around the loop. Lightly squeeze the two ends of dough together in the center to secure them.
– Julissa Roberts, Fine Cooking | How to Shape Knotted Dinner Rolls

I’ve decided that this is the method I will use.

(J’adore the internet!!)

4 May 2022, 16:20 I’ve been happily wandering around on the internet (why yes, I AM rabbit-holing again!) after discovering that a.) there are two places in Europe called “Galicia”, one in Spain and one not far from Ukraine; and b.) both places were settled by Celtic people.

And it got me thinking. Are there other Celtic breads that have knots on top? Remember the Cottage Loaf we made in May 2020? That bread came from England, where there were zillions of Celts! That bread has a rather elaborate hat on the top of the loaf. Coincidence? I don’t think so….

Then there is the classic brioche: another bread with a hat on the top of it.

According to numerous sources, [brioche] is first mentioned in a text dating to the early 15th century (around 1404), and probably originated somewhere in Normandy. […] In Normandy, they were often referred to as gâches […] At first, they were mostly formed into simple, compact rounds or loaves, with a dense, firm crumb […]. According to some sources, these early brioches were typically made with sourdough starter, rather than yeast. They also did not typically contain sugar, gaining sweetness only later, when sugar became more widely available. […] The “brioche parisienne” (Parisian brioche) [or “brioche à tête” (head-shaped brioche)] was popularized sometime in the 18th century, with a first recipe appearing in around 1742.
– Courtney Traub, Paris Unlocked | French Brioche: Short History of a Popular Sweet Bread

The Celts were in Normandy too, weren’t they?
The Seine and Eure valleys were inhabited from Paleolithic times. Their Celtic inhabitants were conquered by Julius Caesar in 56 BCE, and the region eventually became the Roman province of Gallia Lugdunensis Secunda.
– Brittanica | Normandy
It’s believed that the Celtic culture started to evolve as early as 1200 B.C. The Celts spread throughout western Europe—including Britain, Ireland, France and Spain—via migration. Their legacy remains most prominent in Ireland and Great Britain, where traces of their language and culture are still prominent today. | Ancient History: Celts
[T]here was a long controversy about Spanish culture that had lasted nearly thirty years. Was it Roman, or was it Arab? After a lot of argument, it was decided it was Roman. […] Spaniards like to see themselves as Romans and Visigoths or Celts, or even Phoenicians. […] [P]ossibly from the sixth century B.C., Phoenicians, Greeks, and Carthaginians established settlements along the Mediterranean coast of the Iberian Peninsula and on the Balearic Islands, while Celtic tribes coming over the Pyrenees settled in the north.
– Claudia Roden, The Food of Spain, Historical Influences | of pigs and olive trees: { celts, romans, and visigoths }

8 May 2022, 14:23 Thank goodness for our public library. Otherwise, I would be a lot out of control on the bread books. I can’t remember who recommended “In Search of the Perfect Loaf” by Samuel Fromartz. Cathy? Karen? Tanna?

I’m about a third of the way into it and really liking it. I’ve already tried his autolyse method of mixing only the flour and water and leaving it overnight before mixing it with the wild starter (also left overnight in another bowl). I don’t know for sure if it made a difference to the final loaf, but the smoothness of the simply flour and water mixture sure was amazing.

Ha! I just noticed that the map showing where Galicia is makes Spain look sort of like Pan Gallego, with Galicia being the topknot!


12 May 2022, 14:45 I’m actually reading ahead (don’t faint – I probably won’t retain everything…).

The key to hand mixing high hydration dough is to add the water as slowly as possible. […] Pour in 325 grams of water and mix thoroughly. Add 25-50 grams more water, a little at a time, until you have a wet, sticky dough. Let rest 45 min. […] Add the levain and 25 grams water. Mix to dissolve the levain. Let rest for 1 hour. Add the salt and 15-25 grams water.
– BBB May 2022 recipe

Oh my! This seems so labour-intensive!

Oh oh. It gets more complicated:

Let the dough bulk ferment for 4 hours. […] Transfer the dough to a floured surface and shape into a boule. Place in a lined and floured banneton basket. Cover, and allow dough to proof for 2-3 hours at warm room temperature. [Then, c]over tightly and place basket in the refrigerator to cold ferment 8-10 hours
– BBB May 2022 recipe

Instead of doing the refrigerated final fermentation, I’m going to try Frederic Pichard’s autolyse method:
This crucial moment of rest is known in French as autolyse (autolysis, which means self-gigestion, and wiah is often accomplished without yeast or salt). What happens in this time of do-nothingness is that the water slowly hydrates the proteins and starches in the flour, beginning the process of dough formation. The mixer can develop the dough, too, but it also incorporates oxygen, which can bleach out the flour, tighten the loaf, and alter the inherent flavor of the grain, especially if overdone, as mixing often is. It’s better just to let the dough sit in this initial stage and let time do the work.
[Frédéric] Pichard motioned us over to a giant stainless steel mixing trough […] filled with a cream-colored and extremely moist dough. He explained that it had been sitting undisturbed for twenty-four hours. […] Pichard explained that it wasn’t the final dough, just a mixture of flour, water, and salt — no yeast. This was akin to that first fermentation in champagne, the “endogenous” fermentation, which allowed the inherent flavors of the wheat to develop, before bakers yeast was added.
    “Look closely,” he said. On the surface of the dough I could see bubbles, the telltale sign of a fermenting dough […] [A]fter the long rest period and the addition of baker’s yeast, the dough was minimally mixed and then left to ferment for four to seven hours. Finally, it was divided […], shaped into loaves, and loaded straight into the brick oven. It was highly unorthodox — in fact, I had never encountere anything like it in the United States or France.
– Samuel Fromartz, In Search of the Perfect Loaf: A Home Baker’s Odyssey, Chapter 1: Boulangerie Delmontel’s Baguette

If I shape the bread after it has sat for “4 to 7 hours” after adding the starter, then turn the oven on immediately after the shaping is done to preheat for half an hour, that should work, shouldn’t it?

It just sounds like too good an idea! What can go wrong? {snort}

FRIDAY 13 May 2022, 10:32 Well. So far, nothing bad has happened. It’s a beautiful sunny morning. I noticed that there were what looked to be zillions of dandelions on our postage stamp of a front yard. Armed with a kitchen knife to poke down into the soil below the grass, it took me just 10 minutes (some of those minutes were to stop to listen to the birds, or to greet neighbours and dog walkers) to remove what turned out to be 18 plants. Sure, I didn’t get all of the root on each one but I’ve foiled the dandelions’ fiendish plan to take over our part of the world.

We’re headed out on our bikes this afternoon to forage for dinners. Tonight’s the night to begin making this bread. I guess before we leave I’d better check to make sure we have rye flour….

17:54 WHAT an idiot I am! Of course, I forgot to a.) check to make sure we had rye flour, and b.) buy rye flour just in case.

I just looked in the freezer and see that we DO have rye flour. But not a lot: just 15 grams. Luckily, there is a new bulk store about a 3 minute bike ride away.

18:24 How excellent. I got a little more organic rye flour than I’ll need. For 185 grams, the cost was $0.93. But because of the demise of the penny, I paid $0.95.

14 May 2022, 12:46 This method is working beautifully! The flour/water mixture was already completely smooth this morning.


But the leavener didn’t float – it had clearly already risen and fallen. With outdoor temperatures going into the high 20s, the kitchen is warm at last, even at night. I added a tiny bit more whole wheat flour and a slosh of water to the bubbling mass and left it for about 40 minutes.

But NOW it’s floating!!!

Wild Leavener

Yay. It took no time at all to mix the leavener and flour/water mix together. About half an hour later, I folded in the salt.

I cannot believe how stunningly smooth and elastic this dough is!

14:20 I KNEW things were going too smoothly! :stomp:

Because the kitchen is relatively warm, the bread was ready to be pre-shaped roughly an hour ago. Pre-shaping went very well.

Pan Gallego

Half an hour later, shaping also went well. Until I put the shaped round onto a piece of parchment paper. And tried to move it because it was too close to the edge of the paper.

It was stuck fast!

Down went more flour onto the board. Down went the just-shaped round onto the flour – with the seam side up. Or rather, most of the seam side section. I used the wet, clean dough scraper to scrape as much dough off the parchment paper as I could and sludged the mess into the center of the no-longer-just-shaped round. I cut a new piece of parchment paper and floured it. Duh….

Place the dough on a floured work surface […] and shape […] using the rounding technique […] Transfer the dough to [a] proofing basket […] Cover with a plastic bag or kitchen cloth and let proof
-Bryan Ford, Pan Gallego

Then, I RE-shaped the round, and placed it seam-side down on the floured parchment paper, and covered it with the over-turned clean mixing bowl. And turned on the oven to 475F. Because I don’t want this bread to over-rise.

Wish me luck with shaping the top-knot just before putting the bread in the oven.

14:57 Well. Remember how I was going to tie a Celtic knot with a piece of dough and insert it into a well in the dough?

hahahahahahahahaha As if I would have done it, even if I remembered!

It’s an extremely wet dough and requiring skill to handle – it’s especially tricky to hand-shape the distinctive, button-knot on top.
– Rex Artisan Bakery | Pan Gallego
Grab the very top of the dough with your fingers. While pinching it, pull it up as high as you can and tie into a knot. Allow the dough to settle back down.
BBB May 2022 recipe

As it happened, following (sort of – I didn’t tie a knot but only twisted like crazy) the BBB instructions, the top-knot part wasn’t really hard at all.

But now I have a new worry. What if I didn’t let the shaped loaf proof for long enough?

The combo-cooker lid is due to come off soon; I guess I’ll know then.

15:08 It’s a miracle!! We have oven spring.

15:38 Hmmm. I thought so. 30 minutes isn’t quite enough time for baking the bread in our oven, even at 475F. It looks good, but is thudding when rapped on the bottom. I took the bread out of the pan and put it directly on the stone, turned the oven down to 450F to bake for another 15 minutes or so.

16:12 It doesn’t look terrible! In fact, it doesn’t look bad at all. Fingers crossed that it tastes fine. We’re going to have it tonight with our first (of this year) barbecue. T made Kansas City sauce with tomato and molasses!

pan Gallego
pan Gallego

The bread is wonderful! As advertised, it’s soft and elastic (but not gummy) in the crumb and the crust is beautifully chewy. The brilliance of the bread masked the fact that the Kansas City BBQ sauce was not quite as stellar as we had hoped….

Thank you, Cathy! Even though I didn’t follow the instructions to the letter (as if I ever do), this has been way too much fun.

Here is the May 2022 BBB recipe that we were given. And here is what I did to it:

Pan Gallego (Galician Bread)
based on the recipe for Pan Gallego in “New World Sourdough” by Bryan Ford, and Frédéric Pichard’s autolyse method for making baguettes outlined in “In Search of the Perfect Loaf” by Samuel Fromartz

[I] had never seen anything like it. […] The rustic shape and nature of it do not call for a score before baking, which is always a plus for me. With a dark, caramelized crust and a very distinct knot tied on the top of the loaf, this was worth researching. […] The magic of pan Gallego is all in the knot!
– Bryan Ford, chapter 2: Rustic Breads, “Pan Gallego”, New World Sourdough

makes one large loaf


  • 15 grams Jane Mason 100% whole-wheat starter from the fridge
  • 20 grams unbleached “no additives” all-purpose flour
  • 25 grams 100% “no additives” whole wheat flour + plus a little extra, if needed
  • 45 grams water + plus a little extra, if needed


  • flour
       » 85 grams dark rye flour
       » 390 grams unbleached “no additives” all-purpose
       » 12 grams vital wheat gluten
       » 10 grams wheat germ
  • 400 grams water
  • all the leavener
  • 8 grams seasalt + 10 grams water
  1. Leavener: Late in the evening of the day before you will be baking the bread, put 15 grams starter from the fridge into a small bowl. (It was supposed to be 10 grams, but I spooned out a little too much….) Using a wooden spoon, stir in 45 grams water, 20 grams all-purpose, and 25 grams whole wheat flours. Cover with a plate and put into the cold oven (if the night temperatures are cool, turn the oven light on) to leave overnight.
  2. Autolyse: Late in the same evening of the day before you will be baking the bread,
    • using a dough whisk, mix the flours, vital wheat gluten and wheat germ together with 400 grams water.
    • Use one of your hands to squoosh the flour and water together; use the other hand to steady the bowl – this way you always have a clean hand. At first it may seem a bit messy and as if it will never become dough and all the flour will move from the bottom of the bowl into the wet dough. Persevere. Keep going until there is zero flour left in the bottom of the bowl. Cover with a plate and allow to rest on the kitchen counter overnight.
  3. Add the leavener: In the morning the day before you will be baking the bread: Check that a small forkful of the leavener is floating in cool water (if it isn’t floating, stir 10 grams water and 10 grams whole wheat flour into the leavener bowl. Cover with a plate and leave for about 30 minutes, then check again).
    Here’s a test to see if the starter is ready, after it has risen: carefully remove a bit of it (a tablespoon will do) and place it in a bowl of warm water. If it floats to the surface within a couple of minutes, you’ve got an active starter. If it sinks like a stone and remains under water, let the starter mature for another hour and try again.
    – Samuel Fromartz, “Sourdough Starter”, In Search of the Perfect Loaf: A Home Baker’s Odyssey

    Glop the bubbly leavener on top of the flour and water mixture. Then, using just one hand to mix and one hand to turn the bowl, squoosh the leavener in until it is amalgamated. Cover with a plate and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
  4. Adding the Salt and Kneading:
    • Whisk the salt into 10 grams of water to dissolve it. Then pour it over the dough. Once again, use just one hand to mix and one hand to turn the bowl, to mix the salt in. Cover with a plate and leave to rest for about 30 minutes.
    • After 30 minutes have passed, do a few stretches and folds. Cover with a plate and leave to rest for another 30 minutes or so.
    • Repeat the previous step one or two more times. Be amazed at how soft and silky the dough is.
  5. Pre-shaping: When the dough shows bubbles on top,
    • turn it out onto a lightly floured board. Use the dough scraper to gently fold in half, just as gently patting off any extra flour that might be there.
    • Wash and dry the mixing bowl.
    • Continue folding in half until the dough is shaped into a ball. Cover the dough ball with the overturned clean bowl, and allow it to rest for 20 to 30 minutes.
  6. Shaping and Preheating the Oven:
    • Scatter some flour evenly on top of the preshaped boule. Using the palms of your hands, gently flatten the boule into a disc that is 4cm thick or so, trying not to disturb the bubbles too much. Use the dough scraper to turn it over, and then fold the disc in half, in half, in half, etc. etc. to form a tight boule.
    • Use the dough scraper on the sides of the shaped boule to tighten it further, then place it seam side down on a piece of parchment paper.
    • Put the combo cooker into the oven and turn it to 475F
    • Cover the shaped round with the overturned mixing bowl and leave on the counter for about half an hour to rise.
  7. TopKnot: Just before putting the bread into the oven, scatter a little flour in the center of the top of the loaf. Going straight down with a claw-like hand, grab the top of the dough, pull up and twist it around a couple of times. Apparently, we were supposed to tie it into a knot. I decided not to risk turning the kitchen blue. I also decided to follow Bryan Ford’s lead and not bother with scoring.
  8. Baking: It is essential that the oven is thoroughly preheated before proceeding.
    • Using the parchment paper as a lifter, transfer the bread into the pre-heated shallow pan of the cast-iron combo-cooker. Cover with the pre-heated deeper pan of the combo-cooker and bake the bread for 15 minutes with the lid on.
    • After 15 minutes, remove the lid and bake for approximately 15 minutes more “until you have a dark, blistery crust“.
    • Check that the bread sounds hollow when rapped on the bottom. Ours did not…. If it is still thudding, put the bread back into the oven, turn the oven down to 450F and bake for a further 15 minutes.
  9. Cooling: Remove the bread to a footed rack to cool completely before cutting into the loaf; it is still cooking internally when first removed from the oven! If you wish to serve warm bread (of course you do), reheat it after it has cooled completely: To reheat any uncut bread, turn the oven to 400F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread into the hot oven for about ten minutes. This will rejuvenate the crust and warm the crumb perfectly.
    Set the bread on a rack and (this is one of the hardest parts of bread baking) keep your hands off that beautiful crusty bread for at least an hour, or until it is completely cool. You will be dying to cut into that gorgeous warm bread, the crust crackling as it cools, but remember that it’s still cooking inside; the crumb is still jelling, and the crust still developing. The crust will soften partway through the cooling time, but it will crisp again as it cools completely.
    – Thomas Keller, ‘Breads: Cooling’, Bouchon Bakery


:: flours The BBB calls for bread flour. We never have bread flour on hand because it seems impossible to find any unbleached bread flour in our neighbourhood. What I do instead is follow Susan’s (Wild Yeast) formula.
I found that replacing the high-gluten flour in my usual sourdough bagel recipe with a mixture of 97% flour (the regular flour I use for bread) and 3% vital wheat gluten gave me a bagel that was virtually indistinguishable from the original.
-Susan, Wild Yeast

:: starter (aka culture): Our starter (which resides in the fridge) is a 100% hydration, liquid levain made and fed with whole wheat flour. It takes about 5 days to create. (Please see our take on Jane Mason’s Natural Starter made with Wheat Flour.)
You don’t want to have a starter that is part wheat and part rye, or part rye and part spelt, because the grains perform differently and a mixed starter will make it difficult to follow recipes. That should not deter you from experimenting, but you may want some ‘pure’ starter as well to make your life a little easier (although possibly less fun).
– Jane Mason, All You Knead is Bread, p98

:: leavener and the float test: The BBB recipe calls for rye and wheat flours to be used. Because our whole wheat starter is a finicky eater, I feed it only with wheat flour. I made an executive decision to put all the rye flour into the dough itself.

Also, in the summer, our leavener can be quite active and insatiably hungry. After being fed the night before, it has used everything up and is already concave in the morning. Therefore, we feed it late at night and then a small amount again in the morning. Even in the winter, after being in the oven with only the light on, the leavener bubbles and burps with abandon. The second morning feeding is often necessary.

floating starter

Many people state categorically that the float test is unreliable, useless, and/or “bogus”. I have been tricked when merely looking at our starter – it appears to have doubled and be quite aerated. But it does NOT float. I feed it with a small amount of flour and check it about an hour or so later. The starter then has a slightly domed shape and DOES pass the float test, indicating that it is at its peak.

Here are three reasons that I am a diehard float tester:
[It] might be the case that your starter is rising, but you’re not there to see it. If you feed at night, it might be rising up while you’re asleep, and by morning it has fallen again, so it looks the same.
– Donna Currie, Serious Eats
| Sourdough Starter Frequently Asked Questions

The best time to mix your starter into your dough is when it’s achieved its maximum rise and is just starting to fall, because that’s when the yeast activity is going to be at its maximum.
– the Regular Chef, YouTube: 5 Ways To Get A Better Oven Spring | Sourdough Bread Tips
The most reliable indication that your leaven is ready is if it floats in water, a result of the carbon dioxide gas produced by wild yeast activity. To test the readiness of your leaven, drop a spoonful of it into a bowl of moderate room-temperature water. If it sinks, it is not ready to use and needs more time to ferment and ripen. You can expedite the fermentation by putting the leaven in a warm place and checking again after half an hour. Or you can [feed] the leaven […] [to give] it fresh resources to ferment and ripen. Let the new mixture ferment until it passes the float test.
– Chad Robertson, Tartine Bread, p45-47

I am in complete awe of all the intuitive sourdough bakers out there who are producing brilliant bread after brilliant bread without doing the float test. But for me, it is an important step to ensure that our bread rises rather than becoming a doorstop destined to immediately become bread crumbs. Or worse, compost.

:: Baking Temperature and Time: Please remember that our oven is different from yours, so the baking time and/or temperature may need to be different.
     Preheat your oven to 350 or 400 degrees, “depending on whether your oven runs hot or not” […] When I asked her to be specific about the oven temperature, she snorted at me.
     “How in the world do I know how their oven cooks? I ain’t never been in their house, and I don’t even know who they are.”
     Bake about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the mysteries of your oven.
– Rick Bragg, The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma’s Table, chapter 1 “Them Shadows Get to Dancin'”, Butter Rolls
Most domestic ovens, whether gas, electric, fan assisted or solid fuel, will bake bread quite adequately. But, not surprisingly, some are better than others. […] [T]he temperature in the oven may have to fall by as much as 30°C before the thermostat calls for renewed heat, so the item being baked is subjected to a constantly oscillating temperature. […] The knobs and dials on domestic ovens are notoriously unreliable. Even where they indicate a precipe temperature rather than a rough guide or a regulo number, you should regard the setting as approximate. […] [A]ll that is really required is to know what setting gives a cool, moderate or hot oven. […] [I]f you understand roughly what heat a loaf requires (e.g. pretty hot for a big, wet, rye sourdough, moderate for an enriched sweet bread), you won’t go far wrong
– Andrew Whitley, Bread Matters, Chapter three: Taking Control


We had the bread toasted with breakfast. It is equally delicious!

pan Gallego

Bread Baking Babes BBB: Let's Keep BakingPan Gallego (Bread of Galicia)

Cathy is hosting May 2022’s Bread Baking Babes’ project. She wrote:

For the May challenge, we’re making another high hydration Spanish Bread called Pan Gallego, or Galician bread. The main characteristic of this bread is the unique knot on top.

I first learned of this bread in Bryan Ford’s Book New World Sourdough. […] The book suggests an oven temperature of 500 degrees F., and then to reduce it after 10 minutes and bake for an additional 15 minutes at 475 F.

This is where you need to know your oven. At 500 degrees on a preheated baking steel, my loaves tend to burn on the bottom so I started at 475. I kept it at 475 pretty much the whole time but baked it longer than 25 minutes (about 30-35) and moved the loaf up a rack for the final 5 minutes or so of baking.

This bread tastes great fresh with butter or toasted and drizzled with olive oil and spread with a tomato mixture like some of you did for the glass bread. I also enjoyed it as grilled cheese sandwich.

– Cathy, in messages to BBBabes

We know you’ll want to play with insanely slack dough again! To receive a Bread Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: make pan Gallego in the next couple of weeks and post about it (we love to see how your bread turns out AND hear what you think about it – what you didn’t like and/or what you liked) before the 29 May 2022. If you do not have a blog, no problem; you can also post your picture(s) to Flickr (or any other photo sharing site) and record your thoughts about the bread there. Please remember to contact the Kitchen of the Month to say that your post is up.

Please note that it’s not enough to post about your bread in the Facebook group. Because of the ephemeral nature of Facebook’s posts, your FB post may be lost in the shuffle. Please make sure to directly contact the kitchen of the month if you want to be included in the BBBuddy roundup.

For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:

Please take a look at the other BBBabes’ May 2022 bread:


pan Gallego

This entry was posted in baking, BBBabes, bread - yeasted & unyeasted, bread recipe, food & drink, posts with recipes, wild yeast (sourdough) on by .

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6 responses to “Bread with a Topknot (BBB May 2022)

  1. Cathy (Bread Experience)

    Your crust and crumb looks gorgeous! Thanks for the history lesson Elizabeth! I love the stories about different types of knots. Since I’m the one who hosted the cottage loaf bake and now this one, I’m going to have to host one for brioche. Even though we’ve probably done it before, I think it’s only fitting.

    edit 17 May 2022, 10:07: Thank you, Cathy! For so many aspects of this bread! But. EEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeek!! Brioche? Enriched dough is my nemesis. (If you do choose brioche, perhaps I’ll dig down through historical accounts to find one that uses less sugar/eggs/butter :lalala: ) – Elizabeth

  2. Karen (Karen's Kitchen Stories)

    Your bread turned out beautifully! What an amazing crumb. Your story of the Celts reminds me or our trip to Ireland where we had a waiter from Brittany. We referred to him as “French” and he promptly corrected us and said he was “Breton!” Which I hear is Celtic.

    edit 17 May 2022, 10:10: Thank you, Karen! I just wish that I had upped the water amount to drive the percentage up more. I realized late yesterday that the bread I made was just 83% hydration. Next time, I’ll strive for 90% or 100%…. And hope that I don’t end up with a puddle in the oven. – Elizabeth

  3. Kelly (A Messy Kitchen)

    It stuck to my parchment when I went to twist the knot as well. I just ignored and let it do as it pleased, wasn’t going to mess with the edges as it pulled the parchment up with it. I kind of mangled the slashing anyway and the oven spring obliterated any last trace of it. Honestly, almost didn’t put the picture of the whole loaf in as I think it looks a little NSFW if not obscene. ROFL! Let’s just say I wouldn’t be surprised if an algorithm flagged it as a naked boob. Ahem. LOL But this was so much easier than the glass bread! Yours has that gorgeous mahogany color to the crust, so beautiful.

    edit 17 May 2022, 10:15: Thank you, Kelly! We were very pleased with the colour of the crust. (I think I might have been jumping up and down almost squealing with delight.) I considered leaving the dough alone on the parchment and just hoping for the best. But I’m not sure that would have been wise. It was right at the edge of the parchment and may well have oozed over onto the counter. Not a good thing at all. – Elizabeth
    Ha! I had to look up “NSFW” to find out what it means. It’s pretty hilarious to learn that I’m not alone in thinking that pictures of the bread look distinctly breast-like. Who knows? Maybe the Galacians were thinking about their very early childhood when they first shaped this bread. :whee:

  4. Elle (Feeding My Enthusiasms)

    A lovely loaf & history/ cultural lesson! The color is glorious & there are lots of artisan holes in the crumb – plus the great color of the crumb from the frugal the. As always your post is a joy to read.

    edit 19 May 2022, 10:45: Thank you, Elle! The crumb was quite delicious and had great texture. We’ll definitely use this autolyse method again. (I’m trying to guess what “frugal the” means.) – Elizabeth

  5. Katie Zeller (Thyme for Cooking)

    I have always loved Spain. I think it is the most interesting country in Europe and certainly has be best ancient sites.
    Pretty good bread, too. Lucky you to have a good store so close by.
    I can see this bread toasted – for ‘pan con tomate’ in the summer….

    edit 19 May 2022, 10:48: I’ve always wanted to go to Spain! Especially Santiago de Compostella (and Barcelona, and Andalusia, and…) Ooh! When the cherry tomatoes start ripening – at least I hope we will have cherry tomatoes ripening in the only sunny spot of our garden – I will HAVE to make this bread again. The last few slices of the bread were also really really good grilled on the barbecue. – Elizabeth

  6. Rachel (The Little Room of Rachell )

    I’m leaving this comment really about something else, though the loaf looks very good….I’ve seen your thoughts on the Larousse Book of Book and EK’s Inclusion of fresh yeast with sourdough. I wondered whether you had tried any of the recipes with your sourdough starter and left out the yeast? It’s the reason why I’ve had to book for a long time not used it.

    For me it’s either sourdough or commercial yeast, not both together.

    edit 23 May 2022, 17:57: I’m with you on “either sourdough or commercial yeast, not both together”, Rachel. I did bookmark a number of the recipes in the Larousse Book of Breads by Eric Kayser, but I confess I have not gotten around to trying them. If I did, I would simply omit the commercial yeast, and probably have to adjust the rising times. They’d likely be longer, which can only be a good thing because the bread will be more flavourful. As long as our starter is viable, I really can’t imagine that the bread wouldn’t rise. (Incidentally, I urge you to try making pan Gallego. It’s DELICIOUS!) – Elizabeth


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