Italian Bread

My dad used to love Italian Bread from Columbus Bakery.  Whenever we go back to Syracuse we like to stop there if we have time and grab some fresh Italian bread.  I checked to see if there was a recipe out there in the internet world for their delicious bread.  Of course, there is not.  I decided on using King Arthur’s website.

I wanted a recipe that included a biga.  Biga is basically a starter.  Per King Arthur’s website; A biga is a pre-fermented dough that the French call pâte fermentée. It’s started with a tiny bit of yeast, and allowed to work for several hours. The advantage of making a biga is that because it ferments for a long time, it adds flavor and character to the bread you make with it.

Here is the recipe I used.  I made the biga the night before.  It is best to set at room temperature for 8-10 hours.  By the way, this bread goes great with my Tomato Sauce with Meatballs, which we also had today in celebration of Dad.

Italian Bread

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Ingredients

Biga or Overnight Starter

3/4 cup Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/8 teaspoon instant yeast or active dry yeast

Dough
2 teaspoons instant yeast or active dry yeast
3/4 cup lukewarm water
2 3/4 cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt

Topping
1 large egg white beaten with 1 Tablespoon water

Directions

  1. To make the starter: Mix the starter ingredients in a small bowl, cover, and let rest at room temperature overnight.
  2. Combine the starter and the remainder of the dough ingredients. Mix, then knead the dough — by hand, mixer, or bread machine set on the dough cycle — to make a soft, fairly smooth dough.
  3. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl or bucket, and allow the dough to rise for 90 minutes, turning it over and gently deflating it after 45 minutes. If you’re using a bread machine, remove the dough when the cycle is finished, deflate it gently, and let it rest, covered, for 30 minutes.
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface.  Make into a loaf shape.
  5. Place loaf on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  6. Cover the loaf with plastic wrap, and let rise it rise for about 60 to 90 minutes, or until it’s very puffy. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.
  7. Uncover the loaf. Brush it with the egg white glaze.  You can also top with sesame seeds.  I did not do this step.
  8. Bake the loaf for 25 to 35 minutes; the longer it bakes, the crunchier it’ll be. (I baked for 30 minutes.  That worked out perfect!)
  9. Remove the loaf from the oven and cool it on a rack. For extra crispness, cool it in the turned-off oven with the door propped open. (I did the latter and it worked great.  We like the crust crispier.)
  10. Store the loaf in a paper bag for 24 hours; wrap in plastic and freeze for longer storage. 

I did 2 biga recipes last evening so I could have 2 loaves of bread.  We go through fresh bread in one day.  2 loaves may last 2 days!!  Simple and Delicious.  Enjoy!

 

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