Hot Cross Buns with Lievito Madre

These buns were a make it up as you go along effort. I was still deciding on the numbers with the mixer running, working the dough I had thus far and I liberally added spices in the style of a well seasoned chef.

Having worked up a sweat mixing this dough partly by hand as well as in the mixer and the dough complete I saw I could have added more liquid. I knew the dough would tighten up a bit upon adding the dried fruit but I didn’t compensate enough. Still I was fairly pleased with finished dough considering this was an off-the-cuff, part improvised endeavour.

In keeping with the theme of improvising I picked a random weight at which to scale these. At circa 85 grams I had enough dough to make 18, more or less equal buns.

First dough:
300g flour
100g milk
75g LM (Lievito madre), refreshed 3 times
75g sugar
68g egg (1 large)
50g butter

Second Dough:
300g flour
150g milk
50g egg (1 medium)
75g sugar
125g butter
30g honey
9g salt
180g mixed fruit
# 1n orange zest
# 1/4tsp clove oil
# 1/4tsp orange oil
# 1/4tsp all spice
# 1/4tsp nutmeg
# 1/8tsp ginger
# 1.5tsp mixed spice
# 1.5tsp cinnamon

Traditionally the crosses should be made of just flour and water but I added some butter in there to shorten the flour slightly. And I used juice from the orange which I zested with some sugar to make a sweet glaze for the buns.

Colomba di Giorilli

I recognise Piergiorgio Giorilli to be a true master of baking. I followed the recipe from Fables de Sucre. For me the first and second dough’s rose very quickly.

Being so soft and light, unfortunately when hanging this dove upside down, it tore open at the wing but other than that mishap this was a perfect colomba di pasqua. I let this mature for a week before slicing into. Of course it was delicious!

Some minor crumb issues.

Doughnuts with Lievito Madre

…based upon a formula by Francesco Favorito.

Oh my. These are some damn fine tasting doughnuts, easily the best I have ever eaten, seriously!

  • 500g strong flour, I used Canadian wheat
  • 100g lievito madre, refreshed*. I made three refreshments
  • 50g mashed potatoes
  • 3 whole eggs, about 155g
  • 110g whole milk
  • 50g sugar
  • 5g salt
  • 100g softened butter
  • Zest of one lemon

*Lately I have been conserving my lievito in water. In addition to this I have taken to refreshing at three hour intervals. As a result my lievito is low in acid and it triples its volume in just two hours at 28C.

Mix flour, salt, sugar, lemon zest, lievito, potato, eggs and milk to a smooth dough. Add butter to finish the mix. Wrap and leave in the fridge overnight. In the morning transfer the dough to a warm room at 28-30C, After 1 hour divide dough into 65g pieces and round. Proof at 28C for 6-7 hours. Fry in oil at 180C for 90 seconds each side. Drain on paper towel and coat in sugar mixed with lemon and orange zest.

These were pretty big for just 65 grams of dough! I had enough to make 16 doughnuts.

I filled these with pastry cream:

  • 500ml whole milk
  • 100g sugar
  • 40 corn flour
  • 4 egg yolks
  • seeds of one vanilla pod
  • one piece of lemon peel

Cream egg yolks with sugar and then corn flour. Bring to the boil milk with vanilla and lemon. Strain into the egg yolk mixture and return to the pan. Cook gently until thick, stirring all the time. Cover and chill overnight.

A new year, a new name

The time has come to update the name of this blog. The previous name “Bread Blog” was always a temporary handle. Since ninety-nine percent of the baking I do is Italian it seems the new name “Italian Baking” is more befitting. 

New posts of my work are coming soon…

Pane con lievito naturale

Because of the stiff nature of the Italian style sourdough we encounter a reoccurring difficulty when making lean bread dough. That difficulty being excessive dough strength and the reason for this, is that unlike a wet sourdough culture the activity of protease enzymes is very minimal comparatively. Add to this the tightening effect of gluten by acid (acid makes gluten absorb more water than it would normally) we end up with a very stiff starter that requires a lot of effort to work out when introducing ingredients like water (or fat and sugar) which balance this strength with extensibility. Even when a suitably balanced dough is achieved, likely with very high hydration levels, it only gets stronger as it ferments and proves. Evidence of this can be seen when the dough rises vertically, with splitting occurring in various places.

Excessively strong dough proving

Biga acida: (12hrs at 18C)
50g lievito madre
96g water
200g flour

Final dough: (2hrs ferment at 30C, 4 hrs proof at 30C)
320g biga acida
640g flour
544g water
16g salt

Panettone Paradiso

“Extra paradise” panettone from Cresci

286 10000 Flour W280
66 2300 Lievito Naturale
100 3500 Sugar
149 5200 Water
100 3500 Butter
0.29 10 Fresh yeast
40 1400 Sugar
57 2000 Honey
2.86 100 Diastatic malt powder
0.86 30 Fresh yeast
100 3500 Butter
63 2200 Egg yolks
86 3000 Walnuts
57 2000 Raisins
29 1000 Dark chocolate drops
2.86 100 Salt
—— —– Flavourings (Orange zest and vanilla)
1139.87 39840

I made two changes, one was to omit the added compressed yeast and the other was  substituting some of the walnuts with candied orange peel.

One of my finest panettoni. Incredibly soft and light which makes hard work when slicing. A fantastic bready texture that tears beautifully when pulled apart.

This is a very difficult formula to achieve success. The enriching ingredients in ratio to the flour are higher than any other panettone. This is due to their being no flour added in the second dough.

Commercial Style Wholemeal Loaf

Overtime I have been aiming towards formulating a loaf that is as light as commercially improved bread. Continuing the theme of using my sourdough as an improver, I applied it to wholemeal flour this time.


25% italian style sourdough (45% hydration)
100% wholemeal flour
80% water
3% egg yolk
10% oil
5% honey
2% fresh yeast
2.4% salt

I am very pleased with the results!