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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

“Yeast Bread Seminar, Pt. XXI: Pane Paisano—Ordinary Italian Sourdough Bread with a unique Shape”

The Steve Miller Band’s sixteenth album, “Italian X-Rays” came out in 1984, and bombed out completely.  This is one of those albums that make you wonder “why the hell did they even release it?”  We have no idea but I would guess they had some excess material, didn’t do well with their live album and hoped that maybe they could strike gold again and flopped out.  However, as we are in the process of marketing a band’s complete discography and as we are ultimate collectors ourselves, we recommend that you buy it so by all means take the handy link to Amazon.com, the world’s largest online retailer and buy it now! You won’t be disappointed! Thank you, the Elemental News of the Day.  


Here's the countdown to December 21, 2012: from today, we have 499 days to go until the End of Days, the End of Time, Armageddon, and the End of the Mayan Calendar!  Everybody, beware!


                                                   STINKBUG 2011


Chef Vladimir Gdansk

END Commentary 08-11-2011

Copyright © 2011 by MHB Productions

Word Count: 3,929.



Elemental News of the Day Commentary-Opinion-Sports-Foodservice for Thursday, August 11, 2011 by Chef Vladimir Gdansk


 Yeast Bread Seminar, Pt. XXI: Pane Paisano—Ordinary Italian Sourdough Bread with a unique Shape

Bakersfield, CA, 08-11-2011 Th:  My first installment in this series took place on Saturday, June 18, 2011 (posted at 11:59 P.M. on Friday, June 17, 2011) and was for Panmarino, Italian bread made with rosemary.  Italian bakers are a fun and exciting group of guys and gals who enjoy taking their loaves and giving them unique shapes.  The French, Spanish, Germans and Eastern Europeans either make cylindrical loaves or they make round loaves which are fine, but somewhat boring. The Italians, on the other hand, know that in order to be different, they have to make something new and exciting and in order to do that, they pull all sorts of shapes out of their mind and impart them to their breads.  We love Italian breads here at the Elemental News of the Day!

Today’s bread is not only Italian bread; it’s also sourdough bread which like all the rest will use a starter and the brick method.  The brick method is a handy thing to know because most restaurants and certainly almost all homes don’t have steam injection ovens.  Bakeries have steam-injection ovens which inject steam into the oven at the precise time the breads are awaiting the “oven spring” which is the moment before you turn on the fan in a convection oven.  At least restaurants have convection ovens which facilitate the cooking of all things, not just the baking of breads, but in the latter, they are indispensable. Nowadays, Jenn-Aire Ranges are available for home-use but they are just not the same, I can assure you; still, if you have one, by all means—use it!

The term, “oven-spring,” refers to the 3-4 minutes when your loaves are first placed in a convection oven and before the fan is thrown on.  During that moment is when the Brick Method is utilized or steam is injected into the oven.  This plumps up the loaves and they are straining to explode and once the fan is flipped on, BAM! They go up amazingly large and are simply wonderful.  Home bakers and restaurant bakers sans steam injection can mimic this action by heating up some fire bricks red hot and then placing them in a hotel pan on the floor of the oven.  Boiling water is poured in around them which cause a burst of steam to explode throughout the oven.  The door is shut immediately and the steam is allowed to swirl around the oven and then the loaves are placed inside and the bricks left in for the first TEN minutes before being withdrawn.  This creates the same effect almost perfectly and is a marvelous way for baking yeast breads and rolls. DON’T use the Brick Method for quickbreads and muffins as otherwise; you will have a big mess!

This bread is a good one when you do a lot of banquets and have lots of leftover, cooked vegetables that need to be used up. Rinse off the butter and mince them up in the Buffalo Chopper.  Do this the night before and once you’ve minced them, place them in China Cap strainer and place a piece of plastic wrap atop them.  Place a weight atop this and allow the excess liquid to be pressed out.  The next day, squeeze ‘em again and then measure out the amount you need and freeze the rest for use at a later time.


Yield: 2 “U”-shaped cylindrical loaves:

The Starter:
Tepid water

White sourdough starter

Bread flour

The Bread:
Tepid water

Fresh cake yeast

Kosher salt

Zucchini, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli,


Bread flour
Yellow cornmeal

Egg whites

Cold water

Melted butter

Minced bell peppers and onions


1.      Set-up the starter the night before by combining the tepid water, bread flour, and white sourdough starter; blend well.  Place in a plastic or glass bowl and wipe the rim with some of the starter and place a towel atop it.  Press down on the rim to seal it and set it someplace warm in your kitchen like a high shelf or over an unused oven.  Leave there overnight until the next morning when it will be time to bake.  The starter will rise and fall several times during this time as it captures the wild yeasts from the air around it and incorporates them.  This is a normal process.

2.      The next day, combine the yeast with the tepid water in the bowl of an electric mixer equipped with a dough hook and begin rotating on low speed.  Add the rest of the ingredients up to and stopping at the bread flour.  Blend together well.  Then, begin scaling in the bread flour along the sides of the bowl, bit-by-bit, until it’s all used up.

3.      Now, due to the time of the year, the humidity, and the quality of the flour, it may take MORE flour to get to where we want: continue adding flour while mixing on low speed until the dough climbs off the sides of the bowl and onto the dough hook and remains there as it continues to rotate slowly about the bowl. If it pulls back onto the sides of the bowl, continue adding flour until it remains on the hook for about ONE minute—then stop mixing, and scoop the dough out onto a lightly-floured work bench.

4.      Rub your hands with flour and sprinkle more atop the dough and begin to knead it. Knead it firmly until smooth and elastic to the touch—about 4-8 minutes. This is firm dough so you have to knead it briskly but if too firm, knead in a little warm water on your fingertips but don’t go overboard and get it sopping wet.

5.      When it’s somewhat smooth and springy, form it into a ball and place inside a metal bowl or pot that’s about twice the size of the dough ball and flour lightly top, bottom, and sides. Cover with a slightly moist cloth and set it someplace that’s relatively warm and free of drafts so that it can proof. Take care not to shake it or to jiggle the bowl and allow it to double in size, about 40-45 minutes but keep an eye on it. Preheat your standard oven to 425°F and place a pot of water over a low flame. Have a couple of fire bricks ready but don’t place atop an open flame—yet.

6.      When the dough has doubled in bulk, punch it down and re-round it into a ball and replace the slightly moist towel atop it and return it to its warm shelf of spot in your kitchen to rise a second time. The second proof will take about half the time of the first so once on the shelf, turn your oven onto 425°F and place the bricks over an open flame on your stove top or lay atop electric burners. While you’re waiting, beat together the egg and the teaspoon of milk and push through a sieve to break up the albumin so it’s nice and homogenous.  In addition to this, spray a sheet pan with PAM and dribble a little salad oil on it and gently rub in. Sprinkle the pan with the cornmeal and have ready.

7.      When the dough’s risen again, deflate it and turn out of the bowl onto a lightly floured tabletop and prepare for the final proof. Divide into two equal portions and knead briefly and form into two balls. Cover with a slightly moist towel and allow it to rest for 10 minutes—in this way, your dough develops an outside wall of gluten which will create marvelous bread.

8.      Now, with your hands, begin rolling the dough balls down from the top all the while scrunching the left and right sides inward and rolling the dough over it; what you are doing is forming a tight, cigar-shaped cylinder. Keep one hand on either side turn with your fingers while pressing the ends shut with your thumbs. When you’ve rolled up your cylinders, press the seam shut after moistening it with some cold water and fold it slightly over itself. Now, roll out a little bit longer and form into a “U”-shape.  Italian bakers always enjoy forming different shapes for many of their different loaves—this is what sets them apart from the other nationalities.  Place on the prepared sheet pan and cover with a dry towel and return it to the proofing spot for one last, final rise.

9.       Allow your loaves to almost double in size for about 15-20 minutes at most. When it has, lightly brush it with the “egg wash” mixture and then liberally sprinkle with blanched, minced bell peppers and onions. Finally, dip a sharp knife in melted butter or olive oil and slash 4-5 diagonal slashes approximately .25-inch deep cuts across the top. Into each slash, sprinkle a little kosher salt to add additional flavor.

10.  While the loaves are rising, place a roasting pan that’s about 4-inches deep inside your oven and place the HOT bricks within it. Taking care to avoid the rush of steam, pour about 2-inches of boiling water in around them and shut the door and allow the oven to steam.  When the loaf is ready to go, insert it into the steamy oven and let it rise quickly with the steam. After about 10 minutes, pull the bricks out along with whatever water is left and lower heat 375°F and bake for an additional 30 minutes OR until you can pick the loaves up in one gloved hand and rap on its bottom; if the loaf sounds hollow, it’s done and ready to go and if not, put it back in the oven and let it continue baking until they sound hollow. The idea is to check it at about the 30 minute mark but you also need to know your oven’s temperature and the best way to do that is to buy an oven thermometer and place it inside. I cannot say how important this step is, if you don’t know how hot or how cool your oven is, you will never be able to bake a proper loaf much less a cake! 

11.  So, when the loaves sound a dull hollow, pull it out and place it atop a wire rack to cool on all sides. Drizzle with melted butter 3-4 times in order to achieve a gorgeous gloss and as you do so, the crust will soften naturally. This will make for truly fabulous loaves so good luck, my friends. Practice makes perfect and this loaf is one of the ones that is fairly easy to make and generally can suffer a lot of punishment so don’t be afraid, jump into it and go for it!

12.  When these delicious loaves are done, serve right away or finish cooling. A fresh loaf such as this can sit out for about a day covered by a towel or a cloth and then, you will have to wrap them up. Generally, if a loaf isn’t eaten within the first day, you need to slice it and wrap it up in airtight plastic bags and freeze. Bring out what you need and heat up quickly in your microwave oven 10-12 seconds at a time. Always eat as soon as possible as fresh-baked bread is only good when it’s utilized right away. We are not filling it up with all sorts of chemical preservatives so use your common sense and always do the right thing—your common sense won’t let you down!

13. To reheat bread, wrap in plastic wrap and heat in the microwave and if you can, avoid regular ovens.  One last word of advice: to slice bread properly, you need a good bread knife so invest in one as there’s no point in crushing or trashing a wonderful loaf of bread with a crappy knife. Pick one up at the local restaurant supply store when you pick up your oven’s new thermometer! If you don’t have a good restaurant supply store, order what you need from Amazon.com because they have everything!

I’ve always enjoyed baking Italian breads as they favor all sorts of unique and different shapes which set their breads apart from other nation’s bakers.  You will find this fun and exciting, too, so jump right in and get your fingers wet! Okay, here’s the starter:


Yield: about four cups’ starter:

Boiling water

Peeled Russet potato

Reserved cooking water

Granulated sugar OR .25 cup malt syrup

Bread flour


1.      Boil potato until soft in the water, about 45 minutes. When soft enough to mash, remove and retain remainder of liquid, about 2 cups and if it’s not enough to make 2 cups, add whatever amount of water is necessary but DON’T boil away all of the potato water—it’s important that you have potato water!

2.      Place potato in a bowl and add reserved liquid and either the sugar OR the malt syrup. Mash to paste with a paddle attachment.

3.      Finally, stir in flour and blend until smooth. Then, place this mixture in either a glass or plastic bowl as metal will kill your starter so avoid it as though it had a social disease! Dip your finger in the liquid and wipe the lip of the bowl with it.

4.      Now, cover your bowl with a cloth towel and seal the edges by pressing it into the starter mixture on the rim. Place the bowl someplace warm like a high kitchen shelf or in an unused oven with the door slightly ajar. Don’t, however, place it in a really HOT place where it will cook or won’t turn out very well and the last thing you want is a stinky, dead starter!

5.      Allow this fledgling starter THREE DAYS fermentation time during which, it will rise and fall several times. Do NOT sneak a peek or disturb it in any way during this period as it could harm it. What it’s doing is attracting and inviting in the entire wild yeasts in the air around you and is replicating itself by having an orgy with all sorts of wild and crazy sex! Believe me, if you have made the boudoir inviting enough, it will be a scene reminiscent of a porno palace!

6.      When three days have passed by, it’s time to put an end to the orgy! Pull it off of the shelf and pull off the towel and look at it: is it reddish or yellowish in color? If so, dump it out and start over as it’s dead and not only is it dead, it will make you sick; however, if it looks bubbly and creamy white like a milkshake, it’s good to go so rejoice, you have done a good job and this calls for a night’s drinking but DON’T drink the starter—only hardcore alcoholics would do that but this is the road to whisky or other distilled spirits!

7.      Care and Replenishment: this is the hard part. When not in use, tightly wrap starter bowl in plastic and keep refrigerated but for God’s sake, don’t stick it into a glass jar and trap within by screwing on a glass lid—it could blow up! There, it will last up to two weeks but please take note that starters must be replenished because they’re living organisms and need to eat like any other living thing. Here’s how:

8.      If a starter has been used to bake bread, replace withdrawn amount as follows: for example, to replace ONE cup starter, combine together 1 (ONE) cup of bread flour with 1.5 cups of tepid water (70-80°F) in a separate bowl. Blend until smooth, and then stir into depleted sourdough starter and mix together until thoroughly combined.

9.      Then, cover with a towel after sealing the rim with starter and leave in a warm place in your kitchen for 24 hours. When time is up, either use it to bake again OR cover with plastic film and refrigerate for use at a later date (within the 14-day period, of course).

10.  Now, if your starter’s remained dormant in your fridge for TWO WEEKS, it must be fed as otherwise, it will die. Discard half of it and replenish with flour and water as outlined in Step #8. If you dump TWO cups of starter, double the amount given for replenishment and follow the rest of the steps. After a short time, the procedure becomes very easy; all you have to do is to think of your starters as pets!

Well, there you go a simple, white sourdough starter that will be used for every single light-colored sourdough starter we’re going to be baking. Like I have said, it’s not too difficult to do this; it just takes a few times doing it before it will become ingrained in your memory. Keep track of this on your calendar because if you’re serious about baking bread, you do not want to forego a very important part of your preparation routine. Trust me, it was inconvenient at times but using them professionally and keeping a couple of quarts of each one on hand, mine lasted for years!

As I said yesterday, I have had a great time today and as always enjoy my opportunities to write for the Elemental News of the Day. We urge our readership to write to us and leave comments and if there are any of you, who would care to write an article for us, please get in touch via Magnolia Hilltop Brewers, P.O. Box 20669, Bakersfield, CA 93390-0669.  We obviously don’t pay anything but you will be given a full byline and that’s worth its weight in gold.  We want as many people who want to write to be able to do so and we believe that by presenting a forum for our fellow chefs, we are doing something for our beloved industry.  We love diversity and hope to add new and different authors to our pantheon of chefs, food and beverage directors, and culinary professionals.  Come on and join us, it’ll be fun!

Please remember to avoid doing business with AARC Technology in Bakersfield, CA.  These people don’t care about the small customer anymore but instead put all of their attentions onto their corporate customers. It’s sad to not remember why one has the success they do or from where it came.

This will do it for today but I think I will be returning tomorrow to make some more bread.  Making bread is almost a therapeutic act for me, it’s something I can do by myself, go in and turn the radio up and get lost in the baking process.  Being able to bake sourdough breads from scratch can lead to some marvelous jobs you might not otherwise be able to get so learn all that you can and don’t be afraid to get your hands (and feet) wet! Once you’ve become a baker, you will be one for the rest of your life! Enjoy!    

Thank you!

V. Gdansk

V. Gdansk

Cook IV, CWC, ACF, and the Washington State Chef’s Association

This is me back in the 1980's when I was the Executive Chef at a country club in the Napa Valley. I spent many years working in foodservice, having begun as a young boy working for my father in his restaurant over on the coast in Pismo Beach. Foodservice is in my blood and it's something I still do actively every day in my late eighties.


END Commentary for Thursday, August 11, 2011 by Chef Vladimir Gdansk

Please note that everyone who writes for the Elemental News of the Day is their own person entitled to their own opinions, attitudes, and insanity so does not necessarily speak for all of us.  Thanks, Stinkbug.


This original essay was authored by the one-and-only Chef Vladimir Gdansk

Recipes created by Chef Vladimir Gdansk on August 21, 1987 in Laguna Beach, CA.



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This is #1124, an 11” x 14" original oil painting by Beverly Carrick entitled, “Brian's Birds." It's among her more beautiful works and is available for sale. You can see much more of her work at her Website, located at http://www.beverlycarrick.com or at Brian Carrick's Facebook page. At her Website, you will see not only more original oil paintings but also lithographs, giclees, prints, miniatures, photographs, and even her award-winning instructional video entitled, "Painting the Southwest with Beverly Carrick." Beverly has been painting for more than 60 years and is known around the world. Her work hangs in private and public galleries and is followed by a great many fans that circle the globe. We urge you to go to her Website NOW and view her work. It's possible that you will find something you like and will want to buy it for yourself, a friend, a loved one, or a neighbor! You will not be disappointed so please: do yourself a favor and go there IMMEDIATELY! Thank you, the Elemental News of the Day!

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This is a shot of the Stockdale Country Club in action in 1988. Featured is Executive Chef Juan Aguirre and Night Sous Chef Stinkbug.

  This is a shot of the stampede on the BBQ Line at the First Annual Bakersfield Business Conference at the Stockdale Country Club in either 1986 or 1987. Chefs, from left to right, are Joseph Pesigan, Augustine Salazar, and Stinkbug.                                                                                                                                                             


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Vladimir Gdansk, Yeast Bread Seminar, Bread Seminar, Rye Breads, Sourdough Breads, Classic Bakery Recipes, Gourmet Breads, Bakery Recipes, Breads, the Steve Miller Band, Spanish Cuisine,  


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