PR's Italian with Biga
This is my favorite Italian bread formula so far. I have been making this for the last two years ago when ever I need a gift for a lunch or my in-laws who love it. When I started making this mix with the biga, I began to understand how much the 12-14 hour pre ferment time helps the depth of flavor.
The recipe is straight out of th BBA under yeasted breads with a Biga. I adjusted the amounts so I end up with 2 - 1-1/2 Lb loaves after baking. Mr. Reinhart's formula is for 2 - 1 Lb loaves in the book but we like the billowy sandwich size that I can bake on the stone or sheet pan. Two of these is all I can get in my oven. Yesterday I made a 7.4 Lb batch that was double the size of todays and produced 4 similar loaves. Todays mix was done by hand, no mixer needed.
I started at 9PM last evening by mixing the Biga. I have learned from reading BBA that I need to consider a few things before I start. First, do I have 14 hours before I can mix the final dough? Second, what is the ambient temperature where the Biga will ferment? Knowing those two things will tell me how much yeast to use to get the best flavor. In this case, it is a warm day, the air isn't on and I think the 14 hours will stay at around 74-76 F. I decide to use 1 teaspoon of IDY yeast in 478 grams of flour and 340 grams water at room temp. I mix and make sure the biga is well blended before covering with a plastic bag.
This morning at 11AM I mixed all the dry ingredients, biga and milk and oil in a large bowl with a plastic scraper. Once it was barely combined I covered and let it set for 30 minutes to let the liquid absorb. The dough was sticky and slack and I kneaded and folded for a few minutes and let it ferment for an additional 2 hours. During the ferment time I usually fold twice and gently reform as in Marks latest video. That's a great technique to use that helps the dough become a ball without kneading.
Anyway, It doubles in 1-1/2 to 2 hours at which time I divide and shape into a log, place in a banneton for 30-40 minutes. I turn the oven on for this bake when the dough is divided, pre heated to 450F. When the dough is poofy and looks ready, not over 45 minutes, I turn it out on a wood loading peel covered in cornmeal. Spray with water, top with sesame seeds (pat them lightly so they stick), slash and into the oven. Steam as usual and lower the heat to 400F for 25 minutes. I was starting at 500 and lowering to 440 or so as PR suggested but I like the color better at the lower temp. It takes a few minutes longer but for me it looks like Italian.
Here is the recipe sized for 2.5 Lbs of dough. There are many detailed instructions that you can find in the book but if you want to try it this will work. This is one of my favorite yeasted breads.
Sorry about the text formatting. Hope this looks OK.--Enjoy!
Italian Bread-P. Reinhart
Makes 2.5 Pounds of dough
Biga 3-1/2 C 18 Oz 510g
318 g flour-226 g water 1/2 teaspoon Instant yeast.
AP Flour 2-1/2 C 11.25 Oz 319g
Salt 1-2/3 t .41 12g
Sugar 1 T .5 Oz 14g
Instant Yeast 1 t .11Oz 3g
Diastatic Malt 1 t .17 5g
Olive Oil 1 T .5 Oz 14g
Warm Milk ¾ C plus 2T 7-8 Oz 227g
Cornmeal for dusting TOTAL 1138g (2.5 Lb)
Mix dry ingredients together in bowl. Add biga in small pieces, olive oil and ¾ Cup warm milk, mix. Adjust water/flour as needed and rest 15 min.
Knead until starting to develop. Dough temp should be 77-81 F. Transfer to oiled bowl, cover and ferment 2 hours or double. Fold every 45 minutes during ferment. Watch for double in volume.
Divide in 2. Shape into logs. Gentle handling. Light dusting of flour and rest 5 minutes. Finish shaping. Lightly spray oil and cover, proof for 1 hour or 1.5 increase in volume.
Preheat to 450 F. Score, Steam and lower oven temp to 400 after 2 steams. (400 and longer for crustier). 25 minutes for loaves, 15 minutes for rolls.