Friday was my first bake of the new year, and I tried my hand a BBA's Italian bread.
I mixed the biga Thursday afternoon, before heading of to the South Alabama basketball game (we lost, by 3, in OT), and put into the fridge during halftime in the BCS championship game ("Bama won, if you hadn't heard—Roll, Tide, Roll).
Friday morning I took the biga out of the fridge, cut it into 10 pieces, and let it warm up while I had coffee, and read the paper.
I mixed the flour, yeast, malt, sugar, and salt in the bowl of my KA mixer, immediately after cutting the biga into pieces.
When the biga was about room temp, I completed mixing—adding the biga pieces to the bowl, adding the olive oil, and some of the water. and began mixing on first speed with the paddle, adding more water gradually until the dough came together in a ball. I then switched to the dough hook, and kneaded at 2nd speed for about eight minutes, and put the dough in an oiled plastic bowl with a lid, for a two hour rise.
I gently removed the dough to the counter and divided it into two more or less equal pieces (one was 19.3 oz., the other 19.6 oz), and shaped each piece into a bâtard.
I put a sheet of parchment on my wooden Super Peel (without the cloth gizmo) and dusted it with cornmeal, and then gently placed the bâtards on the dusted parchment to rise, for about an hour.
My oven is not as wonderful as I would like it to be, and it doesn't reach temperature when it claims to reach temp. So, even though I set it for 500°, it finally reached 475° after about 40 minutes. By the time I added water to the pan on the bottom rack for steam, and then slid the bâtards (still on the parchment) onto the stone, the temp had dropped to just over 400°.
I baked the loaves for about 13 minutes, and then turned them, and baked them for about 8 minutes more, tenting with aluminum foil for the last 5 minutes because they were getting darker than I had expected.
I took the bâtards out of the oven and placed them on wire racks to cool.
I think I'm getting better at scoring loaves, but I still need more practice. For this I used a single-edged razor blade, and I seem to do better with that then with either of my lames.
If anyone can offer advice on scoring, I will welcome your wisdom.
I used KAF unbleached bread flour, SAF Instant yeast, Morton Coarse Kosher salt, KAF diastatic malt powder, and Carbonnell extra virgin olive oil.
The loaves turned out well, with fairly tight crumb, nice flavor, and a chewy crust.
I've sent this along to Susan for possible inclusion in Yeast Spotting at her great blog, Wild Yeast.
Here's the recipe for BBA's Italian Bread.
21⁄2 cups (11.25 oz.) unbleached bread flour
1⁄2 tsp. (.055 oz.) instant yeast
3⁄4 C + 2 TB
to 1 C (7 to 8 oz.) water at room temp.
1. Stir together flour and yeast in 4-qt. bowl or bowl of a mixer. Add 3/4 cup plus 2 TB water, and stir or mix at low speed with paddle attachment until everything comes together in a coarse ball. Adjust flour and water as needed so that dough is neither too sticky nor too stiff.
2. Sprinkle some flour on counter and transfer dough to counter. Knead for 4 to 6 minutes (or use dough hook and mix on medium speed for 4 minutes).
3. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. cover bowl with plastic wrap and ferment at room temp for 2 to 4 hours, until dough nearly doubles in size.
4. Remove dough from bowl, knead it lightly to degas, and return it to the bowl, covering the bowl with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in the refrigerator overnight. According to BBA, you can keep this in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or you can freeze it in an airtight plastic bag for up to 3 months.
Makes 2 one-pound loaves or 9 torpedo (hoagie) rolls
3 1⁄2 Cups (18 oz.) biga (see previous recipe—use the entire recipe
2 1⁄2 Cups (11.25 oz.) unbleached bread flour
1 2⁄3 tsp. (.41 oz.) salt
1 TB (.5 oz.) sugar
1 tsp (.11 oz.) instant yeast
1 tsp (.17 oz.) diastatic barley malt powder (optional)
1 TB (.5 oz.) olive oil, vegetable oil or shortening
3⁄4 cup to
3⁄4 cup+2 TB (7 to 8 oz.) water (or milk, if making rolls) , lukewarm (90° to 100° F)
1. Remove biga from refrigerator 1 hour before making dough. Cut biga into about 10 pieces, with a pastry scraper. cover pieces with plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour to take chill off.
2. Stir together the flour, salt, sugar, yeast , and malt powder in a 4-qt. bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the biga pieces, the olive oil, and 3⁄4 cup of water and stir together (or mix on low speed with paddle attachment) until a ball forms, adjusting water or flour as needed. The dough should be slightly sticky and soft.
3. Sprinkle flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter and knead (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook) Knead for about 10 minutes (I mixed for about 8 minutes with dough hook at speed tow or three on my KA six-qt. mixer), adding flour as needed. Dough should pass the window pane test, and be tacky but not sticky. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to it, rolling it around to coat all surfaces. cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
4. Ferment at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until dough doubles in size.
5. Gently divide the dough into two equal pieces of about 18 oz. each, or into 9 pieces of about 4 oz. each for torpedo rolls. Carefully form the dough pieces into bâtards or or rolls, degassing the dough as little as possible. Lightly dust with a sprinkle of flour, cove with a towel or plastic wrap, and let rest for 5 minutes (a step I neglected). then complete the shaping extending the loaves to about 12 inches or shaping the torpedo rolls. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment (I placed the parchment on a large wooden peel) and dust with semolina flour or cornmeal. Place the loaves on the dusted parchment and lightly mist with spray oil. Cover loaves loosely with plastic wrap.
6. Proof at room temp. for about 1 hour or until loaves have grown to about 11⁄2 times their original size.
7. Prepare oven for hearth baking. Place baking stone on middle rack, remove racks above that rack. Place pan for water for steam on bottom rack or floor of the oven. Preheat the oven to 500°F. Score the breads with 2 parallel diagonal slashes or one long slash.
8. Rolls can be baked directly on the sheet pan. For loaves, generously dust a peel or back of a sheet pan with semolina flour or cornmeal and very gently transfer the loaves to the peel or pan. Transfer the loaves to the stone (or bake on the sheet pan). Pour one cup of hot water into the steam pan and close the door. Lower oven temp. to 450°F and bake for about 20 minutes, or lower temp to 400°F and bake a bit longer. rotate loaves 180° if necessary for even baking. Rolls should bake for about 15 minutes.
Note: BBA suggests spraying the walls of the oven twice at 30 second intervals and then lowering the temp. to 450°, but I don't do this because I've fond that so much opening and closing the oven door causes too great a loss of heat at a time when I want maximum heat.
9. Transfer loaves or rolls to a cooling rack for at least 1 hour before slicing and serving.
I think it's now time to slice and taste.