023 - Basic White #13 and Tavce Gravce!

White Bread & Tavce Gravce
March 11, 2011

Had new and old friends over for dinner, where the gracious Biljana showed me how to make Tavce Gravce, a traditional Macedonian dish made with beans. Biljana is from Tetovo, famous for its white beans, but without any on hand, she had to use butter beans this time around. I can't wait to try it with beans from Tetovo! I made a basic white loaf to go along with it - as my Macedonian friends tell me that is the normal accompaniment for these beans. I'll let Biljana keep the secret to her recipe, but I am definitely going to attempt my own version sometime soon!

The white bread was made with the following ratio of ingredients: 400:100:350+50:5:7 WHITE:WHOLEMEAL:WATER:YEAST:SALT. As a reminder, these are weight ratios which can be used for any unit of measurement - mine are in grams. Using fairly warm water, I mixed together and autolysed the flour, yeast, and water 25 minutes. Then I added 50g more water, 7g Maldon Sea Salt, and mixed the dough well until both water and salt were well combined. The bulk fermentation was a total of 2 hours - Every 30 minutes, I lifted and folded the dough in lieu of doing any kneading before leaving the dough to rise. 

I poured out the dough onto the counter top and shaped it into a round. Then I left it to bench rest for 25 minutes, during which it did flatten out to about +25% of the original area it covered. I folded the dough over itself several times in order to stretch it out and build the tension, then shaped it into a stubby cylinder and left it to prove (final rise) for another 20 minutes. It rose another 1/3 in volume during the prove. I dusted it with white flour and slashed it four times across, then threw it into the oven while pouring boiling water into a heated pan on the floor of the oven to generate steam. The loaf was taken out of the oven after 45 minutes.

The crust was thin and crisp with a nice golden color. The crumb was quite light and had evenly sized small air bubbles throughout - with maybe one or two larger bubbles (.5cm) near the top crust. We were on something of a schedule, so I pulled the bread out earlier than I'd wanted to and we ate it immediately. The crumb didn't exhibit much bounce/spring probably because it was piping hot. Above all, it went great with the beans! (to be honest, I don't know how to pronounce tavce gravce - tahvcheh grahvcheh?). 

We ended the meal with some Croatian chocolates that were delicious. The bajadera were the famously gold and brown wrapped nougat with hazelnut filling, and the fontana ledene kocke 'ice-filled' chocolates had a bright white filling that tasted like a mix of lemon and mint; the ingredient list completely baffles me as to how this flavor is achieved.


  1. nice meal n nice bread!!


  2. Good food, nice atmosphere and amazing people! :)