“Candeal bread is a relic sentenced to death,” my friend Iban Yarza , from Bilbao, told me , author of such relevant books as Pan de Pueblo and Pan Casero , apart from a few more. It was enough for me to comment on the progressive disappearance of candeal breads on the tables of Spanish restaurants and bakeries for him to make his disappointment evident: “In our country there are two specially prostituted pieces, the common loaf and the candeal bread .
Everywhere the doughs laden with yeast and additives equivalent to pieces of polystyrene are lavished. It is inexplicable to me that we are marginalizing such a refined, sophisticated and exquisite breadpacked with medieval ties. It is incredible how little appreciation we show for one of our gourmet pieces ”.
“Candeal is a treasure that new generations do not understand, it is not even valued in certain gastronomic areas. Added to its decreasing quality is an evolution in tastes. Neither young people appreciate it, according to what bakers in half Spain tell me, nor have new professionals learned how to make it.
People freak out with highly hydrated crumbs. The most paradoxical of all is that the Chinese rolls ( mantou, bao ), now so fashionable, steamed, are made with doughs similar to those of the candeal.
On the other hand, breads with hydrations below 50% are not known among Anglo-Saxons, and therefore do not exist for their world, which is the great speaker. If they were part of their repertoire they would have them in the clouds.
Behold the encyclopedia Modernist Bread of Nathan Myrvol , which are not mentioned. Behavior similar to that of so many amateurs and professionals who debate in the bread forums from North America or the United Kingdom .
When the British Museum asked London-based Italian chef Giorgio Locatelly to rebuild Pompeii bread , he did so from hydrated dough. A clear ignorance of history insofar as the Pompeii loaves of low hydration and with the shape of a double deck preceded ours with pulley, carrucha or cheek from different Spanish areas ”.
“Fine, golden skin that crackles when pressed; white, dense and brown crumb; minimal honeycombing, with an intense wheat flavor, and a silky, buttery texture, similar to the most refined of biscuits. ”
Where do your problems lie? “From the outset, in its preparation. If the doughs are overhydrated, they open and can become itchy, and if the water is spared more than necessary they are too dry. Candeal breads are not kneaded, but are refined through rollers where the dough is degassed until it reaches the desired consistency.
Before being a science, refining is an art. Most skilled bakers refine by ear . When the mass begins to release “pedets” it approaches the ideal point. On numerous occasions I have been hypnotized observing the silkiness that the masses of candeal acquire in the refineries where they take on the color of fine porcelain and the texture of those fat blankets from the belly of whales. I am amazed at what the process has ofarchaic and sophisticated at the same time ”.
“Many flours have been used for the candeal bread. Candeal means white, a trait that explains the preference for t r iticum aestivum or baker’s wheat. Within this wheat there are varieties that gave a fine, delicate flour, such as candeales or some traditional varieties that provide the dough with finesse and the appropriate plastic qualities.
Curiously, in certain parts of Latin America, durum wheat ( Triticum durum ) is called candeal, which is used for pasta. For more than 500 years, candeal bread has been made in very large areas of our geography, from Zamora to Huelva , and from Cáceres to the interior of Valencia where it is calledpa asaonat . It is logical that the flours vary from one place to another ”.
At this point I interrupted Iban to comment on my weakness for the candeal loaves that Joaquín Marcos makes in Arapiles (Salamanca). Professional of bells to whom he himself dedicates an extensive comment in his book Pan de Pueblo already cited.
When I asked this baker about the requirements to make a good candeal, he responded without hesitation: “Good raw materials; hard dough with 40% hydration ; slow fermentations with a minimum of 6/8 hours at room temperature and very low doses of yeast ”.
And when I questioned him again about his favorite wheats, his answer was no less concise: “At this time, candeal bread should not be called that. Candeal wheat is hardly sown due to the low profitability it provides to farmers; We should call it hard bread . At Arapiles we use different strength wheat from Castile, specifically from Briviesca (Burgos) and Arévalo (Segovia).
Yarza did not stop commenting on how little the world of candeal has been investigated. “There are countless books and studies relating to sourdoughs and a thousand bread issues, from kneading to fermentation. However, such magical masses hardly anyone has dealt with.
I am referring to scientific works with as much weight as the one carried out by the Basque researcher Amaia Arranz in northwestern Jordan to show that the making of bread preceded the practices of sedentary agriculture by 4,000 years ”.
Our conversation took a sharp turn to turn to the forms. “They are easy to mold pieces due to the consistency of their dough,” he told me. “Round, squashed cakes and bagels with different decorations abound.” A work that I myself delved into in 1991 when I was working on my book El Pan in which I detail cuts, drawings and shapes of the breads: lechuguino bread; I advocate; bisalt; round; squared; thread; stonecutter; cathetus; cheek; telera; garrucha bread; colon; checkered bread; nice bread; silly; song bread; notebook; milling and manchego . Some of them were later included under the guarantee brand Pan de Valladolid (2004).
As was logical, we concluded by focusing on the gastronomic aspect. “We forget the culinary and gastronomic importance of these breads,” Iban told me again . “The colines, and the eight, apart from the Andalusian peaks and donuts, also belong to the same family.
Few things richer than a slice of candeal bread with Iberian sausages. Or with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Nor will you deny me that garlic soups and classic crumbs with chorizo and fried eggs taste much better with candeal ”. Of course, I replied.
And also the Cordovan salmorejo, and all the gazpachos, apart from the zurrukutuna, the succulent Basque cod soup. Or two desserts that excite me, the apple pudding with bread and raisins and the blessed breadhow my grandmother rated a recipe similar to French pain perdu …