Coccodrillo Bread and Kelly Clarkson

Today I galloped out of my medical school lecture hall, unable to quiet Kelly Clarkson singing Under the Christmas Tree, the Play button for which I accidentally tapped on my iPhone. I may also have been squealing Sorryeeeeeee against the cacophony of my classmates’ laughs and professors’ growls as I ran the many yards between my front row auditorium seat and the back Exit. Couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to turn the song off! Even while hyperventilating red-faced in the hallway outside class! Take away point: never touching my phone again. Henceforth, I shall consider it a crocodile in my pocket. Does this bread look like a crocodile’s head to you? Me neither.

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Coccodrillo Bread

Adapted from The Italian Baker

This bread takes several days of work, and in particular, a final five-six hour stretch in which you have to check and flip the dough every hour. VERY time consuming…not quite tasty enough to be worth the work, in my opinion.

Makes 2 large loaves

First starter:

1/2 cup sourdough starter

1 cup warm water

1/4 cup durum flour

3/4 cup unbleached stone-ground flour

The morning of the first day, stir the starter into the water. Add the flours and stir with a wooden spoon about 50 strokes. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 12 to 24 hours. The starter should be bubbly.

Second starter:

1 1/4 cup sourdough starter

1 1/4 cups water, room temperature

1/2 cup durum flour

1 1/2 cups unbleached stone-ground flour

The evening of the same day or the next morning, stir more sourdough into the starter from the first day. Add the water, flours and stir, using a spatula or wooden spoon or the paddle of the electric mixer until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 12 to 24 hours.

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Dough

1/4 cup  durum flour

1 to 1 1/4 cups unbleached stone-ground flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

By mixer:

The next day, add the durum flour and 1 cup unbleached flour to the starter in a mixer bowl; mix with the paddle on the lowest speed for 17 minutes. Add the salt and mix 3 minutes longer, adding the remaining flour if needed for the dough to come together. You may need to turn the mixer off once or twice to keep it from overheating. The dough is very wet and will not be kneaded (which is really too bad because that is my favorite part, after all).

First Rise:

Pour the dough into a wide mouthed large bowl placed on an open trivet on legs or on a wok ring so that air can circulate all around it. Loosely drape a towel over the top and let rise at about 70° F, turning the dough over in the bowl every hour, until just about tripled, 4 or 5 hours.

Shaping and Second Rise:

Pour the wet dough onto a generously floured surface. Have a mound of flour nearby to flour your hands, the top of the oozy dough, and the work surface itself. This will all work fine-appearances to the contrary-but be prepared for an unusually wet dough. Make a big round shape of it by just folding and tucking the edges under a bit. There is no good way to shape this dough. An exercise in futility. Place the dough on well, floured parchment or brown paper placed on a baking sheet or peel. Image

Cover with a dampened towel and let rise until very blistered and full of air bubbles, about 45 minutes.

Baking:

Thirty minutes before baking, heat the oven with a baking stone in it to 475° F. Just before baking, cut the dough in half down the center with a dough scraper; a knife would tear the dough. Gently slide the 2 pieces apart and turn so that the cut surfaces face upward. Sprinkle the stone with cornmeal. Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on a rack.

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As I mentioned, not my favorite bread, especially when considering the effort. I really wanted to like this bread because of its name, but alas—its flavor was a little too pasta-like for me. Especially unfortunate was how I timed the rise of this starting First Rise at midnight on Sunday—I ended up pulling an all-nighter to rotate the bread every hour. Kelly Clarkson’s What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger (yes, Kelly Clarkson is one of my favorite guilty pleasures) is what I hummed that Monday morning on the way to school, and it remained loud and clear in my head all day—without need of a colicky iPhone. 

3 thoughts on “Coccodrillo Bread and Kelly Clarkson

  1. LOL, to use teenage vernacular 🙂 Rachel, your gift for painting vivid scenes is second to none! Boy, I don’t see a crocodile in that bread either. I’d love to go back in time and talk with the crazy Italian baker who came up with that one! 😉

    1. I was expecting a great deal more out of the bread with a name like that. The baker in Rome who invented it just said he thought it looked like a crocodile–do they even have crocodiles in Rome?

      1. Ha yes, if only it was crocodile-sized bread 🙂 Your question made me curiuos, so I just Googled “crocodiles in Rome” and as far as I can tell there are none at present, but back in ancient times, feeding people to lions and crocodiles was a form of capital punishment for criminals who committed the most serious crimes, yikes! Hopefully this baker was not inspired by that, ayayay. Maybe there was a zoo where he loved seeing crocodiles? 🙂

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