Royal Crown’s Tortano



I noticed a few weeks ago that a new food blogging group had formed – the Bread Baking Babes. They tackle a new type of bread each month and then blog about it and encourage readers to give it a shot within the following week to become a Bread Baking Buddy. The first month of BBB was hosted by Baking Soda over at Bake My Day! and the introductory bread was the Maggie Glazer’s Royal Crown’s Tortano, which is a rustic bread and a signature of the Royal Crown Bakery in Brooklyn, NY. I’m not sure if I’m a “Buddy” since it took me more than a week to make this, but I wanted to thank Mary over at The Sour Dough for being patient with me as I asked a ton of questions through email, and also for posting a bunch of pictures of the process. These helped me tremendously, and in hind sight I should have done the same, but if you attempt this bread definitely check out Mary’s post to get an idea of what the dough should look like at each stage.


My first attempt to start the preferment didn’t go very far, as after I woke up I realized that nothing really happened and my yeast was probably bad (the jar had been around for quite some time). I went to the store and got some brand new yeast and started over. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I stuck with it, because aside from being an amazing loaf of bread, I also got to experiment with a different type of dough and new techniques.



To say that this was a wet dough was putting it mildly! I have never seen dough actually look like a liquid mass before coming together. I crossed my fingers that I was moving along the right way and was so excited after each step to realize that was was supposed to happen was indeed happening. I am going to include my thoughts/comments/tips throughout each section of the recipe, since that’s easier than trying to summarize it all here. One thing I do think that I need to work on is my slashing. Perhaps my knives aren’t sharp enough and I need to get a razor? This happened with the French bread as well – the slits were barely noticeable and didn’t open up. Any tips from you bread geniuses out there??



Overall thoughts on this bread… FABULOUS! It turned out exactly the way I imagined it should. The crust was crisp and crunchy, and the inside warm, chewy, and full of big air holes. I can’t tell you how proud I am of this bread and of learning many new things in the process!

Yield: 1 large loaf

Prep Time: 20 hours

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 24 hours


For the Pre-Ferment:
1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 cup water 105 - 115 degrees F
2/3 cup unbleached bread flour
1 small potato

For the Dough:
3 3/4 cups unbleached bread flour
1 3/4 cups plus 3 Tbsp Water, including the potato water if desired, lukewarm
2 tsp honey
1/4 cup packed Potato puree
1 Tbsp salt


1. Make the Pre-Ferment: Stir the yeast into the water in a glass measure and let it stand for 5 - 10 minutes. Add 1/3 cup of this yeasted water (discard the rest) to the flour and beat this very sticky starter until it is well combined. Cover with plastic wrap and let it ferment until it is full of huge bubbles and sharp tasting, about 12 hours. If your kitchen is very warm and the pre-ferment is fermenting very quickly, place it in the refrigerator after 3 hours of fermenting. In the morning, remove it and allow it to come to room temperature 30 minutes to an hour before beginning the final dough.

2. Prepare the Potato: For efficiency, you may want to prepare the potato the night before. Quarter it, then boil it in water to cover until it can be easily pierced with a knife tip, about 20 minutes. Drain; if desired, reserve the water for the dough. Press the potato through a ricer or sieve to puree it and remove the skin. Store it in a covered container in the refrigerator. You will need only 1/4 cup puree.

3. Make the Dough: By Hand: Use your hands to mnix the flour and water into a rough, very wet dough in a large bowl. Cover the dough and let rest (autolyse) for 10 - 20 minutes.

Add the pre-ferment, honey, potato, and salt, and knead the dough until it is smooth, 5 - 10 minutes. It will start off feeling rubbery, then break down into goo; if you persist, eventually it will come together into a smooth, shiny dough. If you do not have the skill or time to knead it to smoothness, the bread will not suffer. This is a tremendously wet and sticky dough, so use a dough scraper to help you but do not add more flour, for it will ruin the texture of the bread.

By Stand Mixer: With your hands or a wooden spoon, mix the flour and water into a rough, very wet dough in the work bowl of your mixer. Cover the dough and let it rest (autolyse) for 10 - 20 minutes.

4. Fit the mixer with the dough hook. Add the pre-ferment, honey, potato and salt and the mix the dough on medium speed for 15 - 20 minutes, or until very silky and wraps around the hook and cleans the bowl before splaterring back around the bowl. This dough is almost pourably wet.

5. Shape the dough into a ball and roll it in flour. Place it in a container at least 3 times its size and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let it ferment until doubled in bulk and filled with large air bubbles, about 4 hours. Using plenty of dusting flour, turn the dough 4 times in 20 minute intervals, that is, after 20, 40, 60, and 80 minutes of fermenting, the leave the dough undisturbed for the remaining time. Do not allow this dough to over ferment or forment to the point of collapse, for the flavor and structure of your bread will suffer.

6. Turn the fermented dough out onto a well floured work surface, round it and let it rest for 20 minutes. Sprinkle a couche or wooden board generously with flour. Slip a baking sheet under the couche if you are using one for support. Sprinkle a generous amount of flour over the center of the ball. Push your fingers into the center to make a hole, the rotate your hand around the hole to widen it, making a large 4 inch opening. The bread should have about 12 inch diameter. Place the dough smooth side down on the floured couche or board and dust the surface with more flour. Drape it with plastic wrap and let it proof until it is light and slowly springs back when lightly pressed, about 1 1/2 hours.

7. Immediately after shaping the bread, arrange a rack on the oven's second to top shelf and place a baking stone on it. Clear away all the racks above the one being used. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

8. Unwrap the bread and flip it onto a floured peel or a sheet of parchment paper. Do not worry about damaging the bread as you handle it; it will recover int eh oven as long as it is not overproofed. Slash it with 4 radial cuts in the shape of a cross. Slide the loaf onto the hot baking stone and bake until it is very dark brown, 40 -50 minutes, rotating it halfway into the bake. Let the bread cool on a rack.


32 Responses to “Royal Crown’s Tortano”

  1. nikki57 on March 8, 2008 at 11:34 am

    Yay!! I’m glad the bad yeast didn’t stop you, your bread looks fantastic!


  2. Michelle on March 8, 2008 at 11:39 am

    Nikki – Thanks for the advice on the yeast, I’m glad I stuck it out too!


  3. bridget on March 8, 2008 at 11:41 am

    That looks like a really great loaf of bread. About slashing – I’ve started using a serrated knife to slash loafs, and it works a lot better than a straight knife. I guess my regular knives just aren’t sharp enough. I’ve tried using a razor, but the serrated knife works just as well.


  4. Michelle on March 8, 2008 at 11:43 am

    bridget – Thanks so much for the tip on slashing, I haven’t tried my serrated knives. I will do that next time and see if that’s any better.


  5. breadchick on March 8, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Now that is a Royal Crown Tortano! You did a great job and I can taste that bread.

    Thanks for all the kind comments. You can bake with us anytime you want 😉


  6. Michelle on March 8, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Mary – Thank you! 🙂 And you’re welcome – you were a huge help!


  7. kayte on March 8, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    wow chelle! looks wonderful. i’m always amazed by all the complicated things you try. you’re my baking hero 😉


  8. Michelle on March 8, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    kayte – Thank you so much!! I figure I’ll never learn anything new if I don’t venture outside of my comfort zone!


  9. Annie on March 8, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    Chelle, this looks great! Congrats on continuing to grow your bread baking skills. I wish I had more time to devote to things like this. Maybe while I’m on maternity leave 🙂


  10. Lien on March 8, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    congratulations on your fantastic Royal Crown. It’s royal indeed. Love the interior…very, very good job!


  11. Michelle on March 8, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Annie – Thank you! I’m sure you’ll do lots of fun stuff on your maternity leave!

    Lien – Thank you very much!! 🙂


  12. Erin on March 8, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    This looks great! The crust looks perfect! I can imagine the sense of accomplishment you must have felt when you finished this. I have recently become interested in bread baking and improving my skills. I just bought Peter Reinhart’s The Baker’s Apprentice and I think I’m going to challenge myself to try once recipe each week from it so that I can start mastering the art of bread baking!


  13. Michelle on March 8, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    Erin – Thank you!! I have that book on my list to buy, you’ll have to let me know how you like it!


  14. baking soda on March 8, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    Wow Michelle! You’ve done it! Great loaf and that crust and crumb is amazing!


  15. slush on March 8, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    I so wish I could have done this with you!!! It turned out gorgeous Chelle. Seriously, thats an awesome looking loaf of bread. Kudos to you, I wish I could taste it!


  16. Kate on March 8, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    It’s GORGEOUS! I’m also a big fan of the weighing method for baking.


  17. Michelle on March 8, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    baking soda – Thank you! I was so excited to make this!

    Laurie – Next one we’ll have to do together! And thanks for the compliments 🙂

    Kate – Thank you! And I am totally sold on weighing now as well!


  18. sher on March 8, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    Wow! It looks beautiful, both the crust and the lovely holes in the crumb. I sure wish I had some right now. That was a fabulous bread!


  19. Michelle on March 8, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    sher – Thank you! I can’t wait to have some tomorrow with our spaghetti and meatballs… it will be perfect for sopping up the sauce!


  20. Erin on March 8, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    I know you just got this award, but you make my day, too! I made the tirimisu tonight, and it turned out perfectly! Thanks for making my day!


  21. Madam Chow on March 9, 2008 at 10:31 am

    I made this, too, and I’m so glad that I did! I’d never baked anything like this, and I was so proud of myself. Hope you are, too!


  22. Michelle on March 9, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Erin – Thank you so much for the award! That’s so sweet! I hope you enjoyed the tiramisu 🙂

    Madam Chow – I agree, it was a wonderful bread to flex some un-used bread-baking muscles! I was incredibly proud! Congratulations to you as well!


  23. Gretchen Noelle on March 10, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    You did a fabulous job with this! Agreed, it was definitely a different dough and wet just wasn’t the word, but wow! yours turned out fantastic!!! Cannot wait until the next month!


  24. Michelle on March 10, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    Gretchen – Thank you very much! I am very excited about what the next month will bring!


  25. MyKitchenInHalfCups on March 11, 2008 at 4:44 am

    Michelle! Wow! That is simply awesome bread!
    I’m so glad you baked with us. You can certainly consider yourself a bread baking buddy with this loaf!


  26. Michelle on March 11, 2008 at 6:54 am

    Tanna – Thank you very much! 🙂 I’m proud to be a Buddy!


  27. Ally on March 11, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    Wow, just wow. I would love a piece of that right now!


  28. Michelle on March 11, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    Ally – You are more than welcome to jet up here to the snow zone and I will share my bread with you 🙂


  29. Amber on March 12, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Wow, this looks fabulous Chelle!!! Wonderful looking crumb and one heck of a crispy crust.


  30. Jeanette on February 12, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    Use a good quality serrated bread knife to make the slashes in your bread.


  31. Mya on September 11, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Hello, I just want to ask you if I can use active yeast instead of instant yeast. Thanks.


    • Michelle on September 12th, 2013 at 3:41 pm

      Hi Mya, You can, but the rise time will likely take longer.


Leave a Comment

(Your comment may need to be approved before it will appear on the site. Thanks for your patience! If it is your first time commenting you may want to review the Comment Guidelines.)