The Fresh Loaf

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PR's Italian with Biga

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ehanner's picture
ehanner

PR's Italian with Biga

Italian
Italian

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.

 

Dough

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)

Method:        

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.

 

 

Comments

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Eric.

Those Italian loaves look delicious.


David

RFMonaco's picture
RFMonaco

Thanks Eric...will be making this one! Any ideas on other ingredients for longer (if needed) keeping qualities?

ehanner's picture
ehanner

This keeps pretty well but honestly it's so good and easy to eat it doesn't last long. The milk and olive oil  are what I would suggest but they are already in the mix.

Eric 

Judon's picture
Judon

Thanks Eric this is just what I was looking for - help with PR's Italian bread. I have to make 4 loaves for a party and I haven't moved past Hamelman's Pain au Levain and 40% Rye for about 6 months.

You said "Yesterday I made a 7.4 Lb batch that was double the size of todays and produced 4 similar loaves." Would I just triple the formula as you posted it?

In the picture they look as though they had been glazed!

Beautiful work.

Thanks,

Judy

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Thanks Judy,
Once you make this bread you are going to love the way it comes out. You can size it or I can give you the Bakers Percent if you need them. If you don't have the malt powder you can use a teaspoon of the syrup. I mix it in the warm milk to disperse it.

There isn't a glaze on the crust. I spritz the dough after shaping and sprinkle the sesame seeds on and pat them lightly, then cover with plastic gently. A quick slash and into a steamy oven for 10 minutes. I bake these until the look right then prop the door open slightly to firm up the crust. Otherwise it's hard to slice from being so soft.

I bake 2 loaves almost 1.9 lbs  each across the width of a half sheet pan and it's a little crowded but it works. I used to bake these on the stone directly until I dropped one off the back of the stone while loading. Lol, what a mess! No it's always a pan. Let us know how the turn out and if you need the %.

Eric 

 

Judon's picture
Judon

Eric,

The biga is in the bowl - I thought I'd try your recipe as posted before diving into 4 loaves. The party isn't until Nov. 9th so I have some time to work with it. I'd appreciate the baker's %  for that bake.

I have the malt powder on hand so I think I'm all set. I'll post my results tomorrow night.

Again - my thanks - Judy

 PS my husband is from Green Bay - how cold is it in WI now?

ehanner's picture
ehanner

It's supposed to be snow flurry's tomorrow with winds 25 gusting to 40. I'm afraid summer's over. I'll get the % for you.

Eric 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Here are the percents from the BBA by Peter Reinhart Pg 173.

  • Biga 160%
  • Bread Flour 100%
  • Salt 3.6%
  • Sugar 4.4%
  • Inst. Yeast .98%
  • Diastatic Malt Pdr 1.5%
  • Oil 4.4%
  • Water approx. 57.8%
    ---------------------------------
    Total 332.7%

Good luck with this.

Eric

EDIT: The numbers look a little dry and when I look at the quantities  the hydration looks right. I would work from the recipe, 

Judon's picture
Judon

 

 blurry crumb

The bread was delicious. The crumb was a little soft and not open like the pic you posted on Sept 19 but overall I think this is a good start.

Thanks again for your help,

Judy

Judon's picture
Judon

Oh well my attempt at posting pictures didn't work - in that case I'll embellish - they're the most beautiful loaves....haha

Judy

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I'm glad the Italian worked for you. Now that you have seen it once it will be easier next time.

The easy way to do photo posting, if you are having trouble is to use an online posting service like Photobucket. Once the image is uploaded to the hosting site you just paste the location to the page that pops up when you click the icon next to the camera icon above.

Eric 

Judon's picture
Judon

 Here's another attempt to post a picture.BBA Italian: Here's another attempt to post a picture.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Good job on both fronts!

I'd say those look about how mine did when I was still learning how to get the seeds to stick. Brush off the flour with a paint brush. spray water and sprinkle the seeds, then proof under a loosely tented saran wrap. I use 2 strips of wrap to get the sides. I lightly pat the seeds down after sprinkling but that's just my trying to be sure I've done everything possible to get them to stick. And, they do.

Eric 

jrotten's picture
jrotten

I am ashamed to say that after many years of home baking I  had never made bread with a biga.  I made the biga last Saturday night and baked the bread for Sunday dinner.  I didn't have the malt but gave it a try anyway.  The bread was so delicious that the men in my family thought I had run out to the bakery.  The detailed instructions made it so easy.  I just ordered the malt powder from King Arthur and can't wait to try it again.  I did not achieve open holes in the crumb like one of the pictures you posted, the texture  of my bread was smooth and delicate. I thought that was how Itialian bread was supposed to be.


Deb

paulaa's picture
paulaa

Has anyone tried a good non-dairy substitute for milk in this recipe?  Soy milk perhaps?

If you've tried soy milk, and it didn't work, let us know. Otherwise I'll try it and let you know how it comes out.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I haven't made this with soy in a long while. If I recall I had to adjust the hydration somewhat but, I can't remember which way. You want the dough to be soft and well developed. A few stretch and folds is what I do now, during primary ferment.

Eric

paulaa's picture
paulaa

I made this bread with light soy milk, and it came out great - so vegans and non-dairyites can enjoy it too.

I used a few extra tablespoons, as the climate here is very dry.

I'm so inspired I'm going to buy BBA today - thanks, Eric!