Catching up in 2010: Royal Crown’s Tortano (BBB February 2008)

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BBB: Let's Get Baking summary: recipe for Tortano based on a recipe in “Artisan Baking Across America” by Maggie Glezer; information about Bread Baking Babes and Lynn’s High5; submission for YeastSpotting; (click on images to see larger views and more photos)

Bread Baking Babes (BBB): Royal Crown Tortano

Royal Crown's tortano I thought that I should probably justify my invitation to become a BBBabe by actually making a few more of the recipes they’ve chosen over the years. Of course, it will take me ages to work my way through them all. And I might find myself nixing a couple (I’ll pretend that those ones were written with disappearing ink.)

I don’t know why I didn’t pay proper attention to Royal Crown’s Tortano (from “Artisan Baking Across America” by Maggie Glezer)! I’ve certainly seen it when I’ve leafed through Glezer’s beautiful book. But I got stuck on her recipe for Acme’s Rustic Baguettes. Every time I open the book, I find myself returning to that page. It’s SUCH great bread.

I made rustic boule – my take on the recipe for “Acme’s Rustic Baguettes” in Artisan Baking Across America by Maggie Glezer. I don’t know what has happened recently but I seem to have jumped up one level in my bread-making. I have to say it. The bread was stellar.

-me, win some – lose some, blog from OUR kitchen

However, it was high time to turn the page and try a new recipe. I’ve mentioned my reading difficulties already when I was making the BBBabes’ Sprouted Wheat Flourless Bread. But in the case of Glezer’s book, it isn’t that I glaze over (excuse the pun). It’s that I need a magnifying glass and bright light. I don’t know WHAT was in the heads of the design team to use such a small and light-coloured font for listing the ingredients. It’s insane.

And so I began.

Sigh… Reading….

When will I learn to read things all the way through? :stomp:

Monday 17:20: I just finished mixing the preferment for this: I whisked ¼ tsp (.9 gm) yeast (my scale won’t measure fractions of grams) with 240gm water. Then I measured out 100 gm unbleached bread flour and put it in the bowl. And saw that I was supposed to put only 80 gm of yeasted water into the flour:

Add 1/3 cup of this yeasted water (discard the rest) to the flour and beat this very sticky starter until it is well combined. – Maggie Glezer, “Royal Crown’s Tortano”, Artisan Breads Across America, p. 203

Ummmm, why do I have to mix ¼ tsp yeast with 240 gm water and then throw away 160 gm yeasted water?!! I know it’s not THAT much water. But we pay for water. Not to mention that it’s a terrible waste!! Water doesn’t grow on trees, after all (or something like that).

Wouldn’t it make more sense to mix 1/8tsp with 120gm and throw away 40gm of yeasted water?

One more observation: Umm, “sticky starter”? Not in my kitchen. It’s more like a firm biga.

I did not get a good feeling about this….

The next morning…

I decided to wait until morning to cook the potato. I never use water from the hot water tap and knew that I could just temper the cold water with hot potato water to make lukewarm water – and I was right even though it’s summer and the kitchen is (for once) warmer than 18C. (Oh, I do love a run-on sentence!)

bread dough I threw 100g whole wheat flour (“Weston”) and 475g unbleached bread flour (“Five Roses”), 420g water (with the potato water added to make it lukewarm), 14g honey, 60g Yukon Gold potato puree and 15g seasalt into the bowl and started mixing it with my big wooden paddle. Waiting for it to be a big runny mess. Having to use my hands to encorporate all the flour because it wouldn’t all mix in. Then I added the pre-ferment that was bubbling nicely but was hardly the sloppy mess I had been led to believe it was going to be. So I added the little bit extra of potato puree (about 20g) to make the dough a little wetter.

Tuesday 08:30: I just now finished kneading the dough. All I could think of is, “Hey!! I thought this was going to be insanely sticky and gooshy!!”

This isn’t slack dough! This is pretty tame in comparison to some of the slop I’ve worked with before. This dough had no desire to ooze quietly off the board if I didn’t work fast enough.

Don’t get me wrong. It felt beautiful. With the exception of the lumps of potato I kept coming across because I used our hand masher to make the potato puree. (I didn’t feel like turning on the little food processor…)

note to self: use the little food processor to mash the potato.

bread dough So I happily kneaded this lovely, very slightly slack dough, fishing out lumps of potato every so often, wondering if a.) I had measured wrong, if b.) the weight measurements were off in the book, if c.) bread flour takes on completely different properties and absorbs more water if it’s old, or if d.) using whole wheat flour AND bread flour made the dough less slack. As I was pulling rather large pieces of potato peel out of the dough as I kneaded, I also wondered if I had missed reading the part that said to peel the potato.

2nd note to self: Peel the potato before boiling it.

Tuesday 17:00: There were beautiful big bubbles in the risen dough but it wasn’t too sticky at all and shaping was a breeze. Going against the instructions, I put the ring directly onto some parchment paper on the peel. I am too afraid of putting the bread into a couche and then moving a floppy risen ring to the peel once it has finished proofing.

Royal Crown's Tortano Wednesday: I baked the bread last night around 19:00. Yes, I really paid attention to the following, didn’t I?

Slash it with 4 radial cuts in the shape of a cross. Slide the loaf onto the hot baking stone and bake until it is very dark brown, 40 – 50 minutes, rotating it halfway into the bake. – Maggie Glezer, “Royal Crown’s Tortano”, Artisan Breads Across America, p. 205

It’s certainly dark brown. Perhaps a little toooo dark brown in a couple of spots. (Don’t even ask about the …um… discussion – yes, that’s it!! It was a discussion… we had when the bread came out of the oven.)

Royal Crown's Tortano We had it with PEI mussels, a big Romaine salad and chilled Malbec/Syrah rosé. The wine is a new one (to us) from Argentina. It’s one of the best rosés we’ve had.

I know I already said this but really, what could be better for a hot summer night?

There were mussels and stock left over as well as bread (of course) and we were REALLY extravagant and made a bechamel to add to the stock and had it for breakfast today. There was also half a bottle of rosé but we decided against having that for breakfast. That would be breaking the rule: No alcohol before 18:00….

Royal Crown's Tortano The flavour of the bread was phenomenally good. But for my taste, the crumb was still a bit moist. I don’t know if it’s supposed to be that way but next time, I’m going to bake the bread at a lower temperature so that the inside can get done more before the crust turns almost black. (There were distinct murmurings from the other side of the table about the fact that part of the crust looked burned.)

And here is what I did to make this wonderful bread:

based on “Royal Crown’s Tortano” in Artisan Baking Across America by Maggie Glezer


  • 1 gm (¼ tsp) active dry yeast ¹
  • 240gm (240ml or 1 US c) lukewarm water ²
  • 100 gm (⅔ US c) unbleached bread flour


  • 1 small potato (~ 80 gm) ³
  • 420 grams (1¾ US c) potato water and water, lukewarm
  • 14 gm (2 tsp) honey
  • 575 gm (3¾ US c) unbleached bread flour (I used 475 gm unbleached bread and 100 gm whole wheat)
  • 15 gm (1 Tbsp) seasalt
  • all the starter from above
  1. Starter On the early evening of the day before you will be baking the bread, put the yeast and water into a smallish bowl and whisk well. Set aside for a few moments.
  2. Measure the flour into a medium sized bowl. (I used a small lidded pyrex casserole dish.)
  3. Whisk the yeast again to make sure it the water is evenly saturated and add only 80 gm (⅓ US c) to the flour. Discard the rest of the yeasted water(!!). Stir well with a wooden spoon to encorporate all the flour. You may have to use your hands to knead in the last bit of flour (I did). For me, this made a slightly stiff dough resembling a biga rather than a poolish.
  4. Cover the bowl and leave it in a non-drafty area of the kitchen (or in the cold oven with the light turned on if your kitchen is cold) to allow it ferment until it has doubled and is bubbly and aromatic. (Glezer suggests “about 12 hours”.)
  5. Dough Cut the potato into smallish pieces and place in a small pot just covered with cold water. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to continue boiling the potato until it is fork tender (5 to 10 minutes). Drain the potato, reserving the water. Mash the potato (Glezer suggests putting the potato through a ricer. She also suggests discarding the skin. This is a very good idea to do this now rather than later as you are kneading the dough. :lalala:) Set this aside.
  6. Put the flour, water (include the potato water), honey, seasalt, 60 gm (¼ c) potato purée (if there is a little more than 60 gm potato, just add it…) into a mixing bowl that is large enough for the final dough to triple. Use a wooden spoon to stir the floury mess into a rough dough. Cover the bowl with a plate (or lid if you are using a large pyrex casserole dish as a mixing bowl) and allow to rest for about 20 minutes.
  7. Kneading Turn the dough out onto an UNfloured board. Put the starter on top of the dough. Let these rest as you wash and dry your mixing bowl to turn it into your proofing bowl.
  8. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it is smooth and silky and there are no lumps. Use a dough scraper to help you knead. No matter how sticky it seems, you should not add any more flour. (Glezer warns that the dough “is a tremendously wet and sticky dough, so use a dough scraper to help you but do not add more flour, for it will ruin the texture of the bread”. But I did not find it to be particularly wet and sticky. Certainly no more than other slack dough bread I’ve made in the past.)
  9. Proofing: Plop the dough into the clean bowl. Don’t worry if it doesn’t seem to be all that smooth. Cover the bowl and leave in a non-drafty area of the kitchen for 20 minutes.
  10. After 20 minutes has passed, very lightly sprinkle the work surface with flour. Carefully turn the dough out. If necessary, gently spread the dough out (try not to disturb any bubbles). Using the dough scraper and still trying not to disturb any bubbles, fold the sloppy left side into the center, then the top into the center, then the right side, then the bottom. As you lift it into the bowl, fold it in half once more. Try to place it in the bowl smooth side up. Cover the bowl. Let it ferment at room temperature for 20 minutes again. Repeat this step two more times. (This step is done at 20 minutes, 40 minutes, 60 minutes after the first kneading.) It may not be until the third time that the dough will look like the smooth soft pillow that is described in books. The amount of dusting flour used in those three maneuvres is not more than a couple of tablespoons in all and probably much less (I have never actually measured). It’s the merest dusting.
  11. After the final folding maneuver, cover the bowl again and allow it to ferment until it has doubled. It should be light and quite bubbly. Glezer warns again “Do not allow this dough to over ferment or forment to the point of collapse, for the flavor and structure of your bread will suffer.
  12. Shaping First, put a largish sheet of parchment paper onto your peel. Now sprinkle a generous amount (but not too much) of flour onto the board and gently turn the dough out onto the flour, disturbing it as little as possible. With the help of the dough scraper, fold the left side into the center (try not to disturb the bubbles), then the top, then the right side then the bottom. Turn it over. Continue to fold it underneath itself to form an even tight ball without actually deflating the dough. Place it seam side down on a parchment covered peel. Scrape the flour that is left on the board and scatter it over the center of the ball. Use your hand to make a hole in the center. Glezer’s words are best to describe how to make the hole: 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 inch diameter.” Cover the shaped bread with a clean tea towel followed by plastic bags. Leave it in a non-drafty area until is has about doubled. To test, flour your finger and press gently on the edge – it should very slowly spring back. For comparison, try pressing early on to see how it quickly springs back when the dough has not risen enough. (2 to 4 hours)
  13. Preparing the Oven About half an hour before baking the bread, put the baking stone on the second to the top shelf of the oven, making sure there are no racks above the stone. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  14. Baking Just before baking the bread, spray it with water. Use a sharp serrated knife to slash it with 4 vertical cuts in the shape of a cross. Slide it into the oven (the parchment paper can go into the oven). Immediately turn the oven down to 375F 4 to bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Half way through the baking, remove the parchment paper and turn the bread around to account for uneven heat in the oven. The finished loaf should be a very dark brown with an internal temperature that is 205F to 210F.
  15. When the bread is done, turn off the oven. Put the finished bread back in the oven and leave with the door ajar for 5 or 10 minutes. Remove to cool upended on cooling rack. Wait til the bread is completely cool before cutting it (it’s still baking when it’s hot out of the oven). 5


1. Yeast: ¼ tsp actually works out to 0.9gm but we don’t yet have a scale that measures in fractions of grams. (I’m putting one on my wish list.) Until I have the scale, I plan to use ⅛ tsp (0.45 gm ) yeast with 120 gm water so I won’t have to throw away so much yeasted water.

2. Water: Tap water is fine to use – just make sure that it has stood for at least 12 hours so that the chlorine has dissipated. Under no circumstances should you use water from the hot water tap. Of course, saying that it is unsafe to use water from the hot water tap might be an urban myth, but why tempt fate? Heat the water in a kettle or microwave and add cold water until it is the correct temperature, (use the baby bottle test on the back of your wrist – your fingers have no idea of temperature!) Or you can use a thermometer. The temperature should be BELOW 120F because yeast begins to die when the temperature is higher than 120F.

3. Potato: I used a Yukon Gold potato and didn’t remove the peel before mashing it. I will definitely peel the potato next time. I was fishing HUGE pieces of peel out of the dough as I was kneading it. Also, it made zero sense to me to boil an 85gm potato and then use only 60gms. Next time, I’ll use a potato that is closer to 60 gms.

4. Oven Temperature: Glezer says to bake the bread at 450F. But I knew that this would be too hot a setting with our oven. I baked the bread at 400F and still had a problem with the crust getting too dark before the crumb was completely cooked. I suspect that because of the honey in the dough, the baking temperature really should be lower. Next time, I might try starting the bread at 400F and then 20 minutes into the baking, turn the heat down to 350F.

5. But I want Warm Bread!! If you wish to serve warm bread, reheat it after the loaf has cooled completely. To reheat UNsliced bread, turn the oven to 500F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread in the hot oven for ten minutes. (Bread reheating can also be done in the barbecue on days when it’s just too hot to turn on the oven.)

Bread Baking Babes
Bread Baking Babes: Royal Crown Tortano

Karen (Bake My Day!) was the host of the February 2008’s Bread Baking Babes’ task. She wrote:

Monday, February 18, 2008

Our first combined effort is a bread in the “wet dough spectrum”; specifically the Royal Crown Tortano. (Recipe Maggie Glezer’s Artisan Baking) Characteristics of this bread are: a mild pre-ferment, the addition of a small amount of potato in the dough, very very long rising time but little handling of the dough, using the tiniest amount of yeast to produce a deep dark brown crusty loaf of bread.

And if you didn’t already see them, or if it has been a while since you looked, please take a look at the other Babes’ Tortanos:

Also, please remember that the BBBabes’ anniversary is coming up in February. We’d like you to pick the Anniversary Bread recipe for February 2011. In November 2010, we’ll ask you to submit a recipe for us to bake for our anniversary.

For complete details about the BBB, please read:


Lynn’s High Five

High5: I did it! High 5! I did it!! I have now completed “part 1” of my own private challenge to bake more of the BBBabe’s recipes.

You select the challenge – you know best what intimidates you, what you’ve been putting off trying. When you put up your post, just slap up this logo to let the world know you’ve taken on something new and given it a good kicking! – Lynn (Cookie baker Lynn), I Did It (and you can, too)


Yeastspotting - every Friday ( image)

Each week, Susan (Wild Yeast) compiles a list of many bread-specific recipes from across the web. For complete details on how to be included in the YeastSpotting round up, please read the following:


This post is partially mirrored on The Fresh Loaf.

2 responses to “Catching up in 2010: Royal Crown’s Tortano (BBB February 2008)

  1. MyKitchenInHalfCups

    ;-) bread, such simple ingredients, pretty much always the same: flour, water, yeast. And that’s all this one is too.
    I always say this bread is all showy drama … until you taste it. How can flour water and yeast come together like that and knock you over with such fabulous flavor. Flour, water, yeast and do you ever really know what’s going to come out of the oven.
    ;-) You’ve been bitten.

    I know what you mean. I can never get over how different each of the various breads are too with ever so slightly different amounts of exactly the same ingredients. Yes, indeed. I’ve been bitten :-) (re-bitten, actually, thanks to you!) -ejm

  2. Elle

    Wow! That is lovely bread and a great write-up, too. Might have to give this a try, too. Way to go Babe!

    Do, Elle, do. It’s really wonderful. I’ll definitely be making this one again. But next time, I’m planning on shaping it into two more manageably sized rings. Even half a ring doesn’t want to fit into our freezer and a whole ring is way too much for two people. (But not too much for two hogs. :-D) -Elizabeth


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