It’s a freezing Saturday here in Athens, Ohio. What better bread to make this weekend than my popular2.5 pound Flintstone Wheel?
Now you might say, “Hey, what kinda idiot would name a beautiful loaf of bread a “Flinstone Wheel?” Simple answer: me.
I wanted to be like the Native Americans ( the ones with the loose immigration policy). They named their newborns after the first thing they saw, or could relate to. So, when I pulled this massive 40-ounce monster from my conveyor deck ovens, all I could think of is Fred hearing the scream of the bird as its tail was pulled, to notify him that his work at the stone quarry was over. Fred then decends down the Brantosauraus tail and jumps into his car with the big wheels to get as far away from Mr. Slate and his crappy job as possible. There you have it.
I make alot of Couronnes, as some of you may call this one, or Tortanos. If I was to put eggs in the shell into the top of this loaf, like the southern Italians do, I would call it a Casatiello. But my healthy distain for tradition bubbles to the surface when naming things. Besides, you never forget a name like Flintstone Wheel.
This loaf is made with a really wet 70 % hydration, which made it a pain in the ass (Fred would not want me to beat around the bush). I used only a natural levain to levean it and used 30% spelt wheat flour to highten the flavor. I had been feeding this monster for the last week and a half to keep the rise on a regular schedule.
After the final mix, I retarded it for 36 hours on a tray with extra virgin olive oil. When I came in at 10 p.m. last night, I took it out, let it come to room temperature, then re-kneaded it, incorporating as much air as possible to probel the crumb from small cells to a mixture of small and great big ones.
I put a hole in each blob and let let them proof in my all-too-cool kitchen for approximately 3 hours, turning them every 15 minutes for the first 2 hours, then every 30 minutes once they started proofing.
Then I put them on trays for 30 minutes longer, near the 500 degree F. ovens for a last blast of proofing. Nothing blooms bread better than the top of a pizza oven. Then I scored them with razor. Yes, I don’t use a typical “Lame” or even a typical razor blade. I like the way the old Exacto knives cut because of the length of the blade enables a deeper and more meaningful cut. I also tend to lose smaller blades.
Man, this is a big, heavy, nutty, carmelly hunk of bread. My kids love it, and I am a very happy guy.