Pugliese "Pillow Bread"
While traveling for business the last two weeks in China, as usual I read my favorite website, www.thefreshloaf.com and couldn't wait to get home to try some new recipes. One of the recipes I loved was Varda's Pugliese Revisited. The crumb photo of her bread looked like cotton candy that melted in your mouth.
I wanted to try to duplicate the same results that Varda achieved and I followed her recipe pretty close, only replacing the AP flour with KAF French style flour and some of the Durum with Kamut flour. I decided to also double the recipe and made one large loaf.
I think I was suffering from the jet lag when making this and almost left out about 70 grams of water. After mixing the dough I realized something was wrong when it seemed too dry for what's such a high hydration dough. Fortunately I was able to add the remaining water before it was too late and the final bread came out as good as I could have hoped.
The bread is light as a feather and has a great nutty flavor with a nice crisp crust.
Even though this dough is so wet it was not hard to work with at all and I highly recommend you give it a try.
Mix all the levain ingredients together for about 1 minute and cover with plastic wrap. Let it sit at room temperature for 3.5 hours or until the starter has doubled. You don't want the levain to develop too much sour so you want to use this in the recipe right away.
Either use in the main dough immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 day before using.
Main Dough Procedure
Mix the levain with the water and add the flours, yeast and salt and mix in your mixer for 6 minutes increasing the speed from 1 through speed 4. The dough should clean the bowl but will be wet and sticky. Place the dough in a well oiled covered bowl and do stretch and folds every 1/2 hour three times while letting the dough bulk ferment for a total of 2.45 hours. I used my proofer set at 80 degrees but room temperature should be fine.
Next shape into a boule on your work surface. The dough should feel like a "squishy balloon" (Varda's words :0). Proof in a well floured basket or bowl and cover with a moist towel or plastic wrap and let it rest for 1 hour until it doubles.
In the mean time pre-heat your oven to 500 degrees F. and prepare it for steam. I have a heavy-duty baking pan on the bottom rack of my oven with 1 baking stone on above the pan and one on the top shelf. I pour 1 cup of boiling water in the pan right after I place the dough in the oven.
After 1 minute lower the temperature to 450 degrees. Bake for 35-50 minutes until the crust is nice and brown and the internal temperature of the bread is 205 degrees.
Take the bread out of the oven when done and let it cool on a bakers rack before for at least 2 hours before eating.
The crumb of this bread is like a pillow and is the lightest and most airy I have ever tasted.