On New Years Day while E was napping I decided to start the Pandolce Genovese–another recipe from Celebrating Italy. While I had most of the ingredients on hand I was missing pine nuts (all used up in other bread baking endeavors) and candied orange peel (not a big loss in my opinion). I used currants instead of raisins because this is what I had on hand (funnily enough).
After a few minutes in the stand mixture, the recipe directs you to “pour” the dough out to knead a bit before the first rise and this instruction is pretty accurate–it’s strange to be working with bread dough that you almost think is going to run off the counter. There really wasn’t any danger of this happening, but the lack of body in the dough was pretty unfamiliar to me. Interestingly this recipe did not use eggs either. I was surprised by this because I would expect there should be no scrimping on rich ingredients in a holiday bread. (In fact the quantity of yolks in some of the other holiday bread recipes was enough to keep me turning the pages–I have enough frozen egg whites as it is and am trying to figure out something to do with them besides making meringue cookies).
The bottoms of the loves burned somewhat–I realized later on this was probably due to the fact that the oven rack was still at its lowest level (it had been placed there to accomodate an 18 lb turkey). Fortunately the bread was otherwise fine as it’s easy enough to just cut off the bottom crust. The upper crust was very thin, the bread even compressed slightly as you sliced into it. I don’t know why this was the case. Considering how hydrated (I think) this dough was, I am surprised there are not bigger “bubbles” in the bread itself (think focaccia: this has lots of air bubbles due to the very wet dough). I do wonder if the gluten was underdeveloped, but not knowing how it’s supposed to turn out, I don’t know that it’s not supposed to be underdeveloped. Perhaps too much kneading would destroy the desired texture.
All these technical musings aside, the bread turned out well. I think the fact that there was not enough filling showed a bit, but the bread itself had a mild sweet flavor to make up for it–thanks to the orange flower water and the marsala–probably reflecting the geography of its origin in a port city.
E didn’t get to try this thanks to the pistachios, but our good friend Lisa got a loaf on her way out the door and in appreciation for her visit between stints in Africa!