Hi again. I am wondering if anybody has ever heard of something called "shelf bread".
For many years there was an Italian woman (born and raised in her homeland) that owned a bakery nearby to us, who unfortunately passed away a few years back. She made wonderful loaves and rolls and pizza strips from her small store. My wife knew her very well, and the woman gave my wife some bread several times which she only called shelf bread (she spoke english but not very well) presumedly because of it's long storage capabilty. This is the bread that initially had gotten me interested in bread baking, but I was never able to find out anything about how it was made. It had a very thick (about 3/4 inch if I remember) dark brown crust, hard and crunchy at the outer limits but getting chewy further in, but very light and fluffy inside with nice various sized holes. It was a round loaf, about 1 1/2 lb size, no slashes on the surface, and looked to have a sort of angular mounded shape (like the old apollo space capsule). This bread was incredible with pasta sause or soups) I have no idea for sure, but I am imagining this was sourdough, which I use exclusively, but I have not baked anything close yet. I think my crumb is pretty close, but that incredible crust is elusive.
Russ from RI