Monday, October 23, 2006

Pane di farina integrale stile americano

Lucas's mom gave me a wonderful book titled 'Bread alone', with a huge amount of bread recipes. I am very curious and want to try a lot of them! So I decided to start from the first one, which was called 'Classic country style hearth loaf'. It takes a while but the result is very good.
Some more pictures and the recipe below.

This bread starts with a 'poolish', i.e. a small amount of flour, yeast and water that start the fermentation of the whole bread-to-be. To make it, mix 1/2 cup water at RT with 1/2 tsp yeast, let stand for 1 min, stir until yeast is dissolved, and add 3/4 cup whole weat flour. Cover with moist towel and let rest for 2 hours at RT or overnight in the fridge (that's what I did).
Then, add 2 1/2 cups of water to the poolish, mix, add 1/2 tsp yeast, mix, and start adding flour (I added a mixture of whole weat and regular flour). Add 1 tbsp salt before you finish adding the flour. You should add flour and stir until it becomes solid enough to be workable with your hands. Once it's solid enough start working on it with your hands and add flour until it's not too sticky. They say you should add a total of 5-6 cups of flour but I think I added more than that. Knead for at least 15 minutes (this is a hard thing to do!! you can use a machine, if you want). At the end of the kneading the dough must be elastic, such that if you pull or poak on it it should go back to the original shape. If it doesn't, keep kneading. I did it for 20 minutes..
Then, make the dough into a ball, lightly grease the exterior part with oil or butter (I used oil) and cover with a moist towel. Let rest 2-3 hours (supposedly at 78 F. I think my room temperature was much lower, and I let it rest for a bit longer).
This picture shows how much it raised after that time..I was impressed!
After that time, deflate the dough by punching it in the center, form again into a ball and rest for another 30 minutes.
Deflate the dough again and knead it briefly. Cut into 2 pieces, flatten them and eliminate any air bubbles by squishing them with the palms of your hands. Reshape into balls, and set in bowls covered with towels that you will have floured. Cover and let rest for 1.5-2 hours (proofing). This is how one of them looked like after the proofing.
Preheat the oven and a baking stone in it to 450F (according to the book the preheating should last 45 min. I did it for 20 min only).
Transfer the bread loaves on a floured board, cut them with quick shallow cuts on their surface, and slide them into the oven. Spray the inner walls and the bottom of the oven with water, and immediately close the oven not to lose the water vapors. According to the book, you should then repeat this operation after 3 minutes. Since it seemed like a dangerous operation to me, I didn't repeat it. Cook for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 400F and cook for another 15-20 minutes. Cool the loaves on racks.
The bread was very good, and I think it really came out how it was supposed to, as you can see from this picture that shows the inside of it:
It was a bit different from how I was imagining it would have been, since a 'country bread' in my mind has a much thicker crust and a denser inside, with bubbles of air that are larger, but the dough is denser. So I think this bread is more American counry style bread, whereas the recipe that I used before and posted here was more Italian-style. Both are very good, anyway, although I'm biased towards the Italian version :)

Btw: this is my 100th post!!

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