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Old 04-26-2007, 10:55 AM
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Default Best Bread for Bruschetta

Hi All -

What is the best bread to use for Bruschetta? We've tried a bunch of different artisan breads from around Dallas, but can't find one that is just perfect...

Any thoughts...James report in from Italy? CanuckJim??

Jay
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Old 04-26-2007, 11:29 AM
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Default Re: Best Bread for Bruschetta

There is no doubt that Pane Toscana is perfetto per bruschette. It's made for that purpose. But, I don't think you can find it locally. It has a very dense crumb, with a moderate, traditional crust. It is pretty dry compared with a Pugliese, and there is not as developed as a hearth bread you would find in the states. It's almost crumbly. This is one of the things that non-Tuscan's enjoy talking about. Everyone who isn't from here (including non-Tuscan Italians) likes poking fun at Pane Toscana. It's pretty terrible with dinner, but it's very good with prosciutto, it's very good in a ribollita, and it makes great bruschetta.

You need to avoid Ciabatta, and other new-age breads, which have big hole development, and a chewy texture. You want dense.

I wonder if there is anyone who might learn to make Pane Toscana locally.

The heritage of Pane Toscana goes back to the wars between Pisa and Florence, when Florence was cut off from the sea, and salt.

Jim, what do you think.
James
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Old 04-27-2007, 05:35 AM
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Default Re: Best Bread for Bruschetta

Jay, James,

Looked into this question a bit, and so far I've come up with a few answers and two formulas. First of all, it depends on who you read about the origins of saltless bread. Field says that it's because Tuscans were so cheap they refused to pay a government salt tax . But, the consensus seems to be that Pane Toscano was developed in part because Tuscan food is very highly spiced. They want this kind of bread to be a complement, not a star, therefore no salt. This type of bread stales quickly, but it can be revived with EVO, and it's very tasty for a salad or soup, like panzanella or ribollita. All that adds up to the perfect bread for bruschette, I think.

Both formulas involve a simple overnight starter made with ADY, water and AP flour. The Pane Toscano dough made the next day uses more yeast, water, the starter, AP flour and a pinch of salt as an option. Pane Toscano Scuro dough uses the starter, ADY, water, a small proportion of AP flour, a majority of stone ground whole wheat flour, and no optional salt. This yields more of a typical country bread as made by "Tuscan housewives."

It's interesting that this bread stales quickly, because it goes back to our discussion of salt. Salt is, of course, a preservative used in all sorts of things, from bread and fast foods to salt cod. Leaving it out results in accelerated staling.

I have not tried either formula, but they are quite simple. Jay, I'll send them on to you if you like or post them in this thread if others are interested.

From what I can see, this type of bread would like a hot hearth, around 550F, for max spring. Steaming would be a good idea, but it should be vented once the loaves show color. That would give you a thickish, chewy crust.

I'll search around a bit more to see what I come up with.

Cheers,
Jim
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