I baked this very large, rustic Italian loaf (pagnotta) a couple weeks ago from Daniel Leader’s wonderful new book, Local Breads, page 197. He states that it is to bake until almost black or charred for the most authentic loaf. I didn’t go quite that far but you can see it developed a lot of color which I always prefer in my loaves.
I generally don’t bake the large boules since there are only two of us rather I prefer to divide a larger recipe and make more loaves so I can share them. At any rate, I wanted to try the large boule and it was quite an impressive loaf. (It reminded me of a fully expanded Jiffy Pop for those of you that can relate to that visual.)
It is renowned in Italy for its great keeping quality, staying fresh up to 7 days. Unfortunately, ours was not entirely eaten, I hate to admit, but it did allow me to see just how long it stays moist and fresh as is its reputation. Nearly 10 days after baking it I was shocked to see that the bread still appeared very moist and had no signs of mold having been kept at room temperature in a KAF bread bag.
The recipe uses a biga naturale which Leader calls “Italian sourdough” and also uses a very small amount of commercial yeast. I’m not sure why the instant yeast is there but that is the recipe. I do not add commercial yeast to my sourdoughs but I wanted to bake it the first time following the recipe. I would really like to try it again without the addition of the instant yeast to see what happens.
The flour in the recipe, except for the sourdough, is all high gluten for which I used Sir Lancelot high gluten flour. The bran sprinkled on the top makes a really beautiful loaf although it is very messy to cut but very well worth it. I would like to incorporate that in other loaves for the beautiful texture it creates.
The crumb had a beautiful color and texture.
The Genzano Country Bread was a lot of fun to bake, wonderful tasting and seems an easy recipe for a great boule. I hope you give it a try.
More photos can be seen here: