bread baking challenge: # 15 ITALIAN BREAD

 ITALIAN BREAD, in an American kitchen. 

In America, the term “Italian bread” means very similar to French loaf, only much softer. This is very little to do with reality in Italian towns. This is because in America, big, rapid bakeries use a lot of enhancers and rapid growers, meanwhile, in Italy, they use biga-preferment methods for baking fresh, loaves daily.

The use of a large amount of biga (pre-fermenter) in Italian bread, ensures a big quantity of sugar to break from  flour starch, hence a small amount of refined sugar is used for this recipe compared with the French loaf recipe:

3cups and ½ biga
2cups and ½  unbleached flour
1 and ½ tsp salt
1tsp yeast
1tsp (optional) barley malt /bring color and natural sugars/
1tbs sugar; / only 1teaspoon sugar if you use malt/  
1tbs oil
¾ cups lukewarm water.

Mix all the ingredients, in a bread machine bowl and set up the dough cycle. In 2 hours you will have the dough, well mixed and raised.

  You can knead yourself or use an electric mixer to knead the dough, and let it rise
 in an oiled bowl, at room temperature, covered for 2 hours, until is double in size.

Divide the raised dough into 2 pieces, and shape them as a long batard, or 9 rolls. 

Proof at room temperature for about one hour, covered with a kitchen towel. They will grow about one size and a half, of the original size.

Prepare the oven: 500F and put a shallow pan with water, on the bottom of the oven.


Bake at 500F for 10 minutes. This is going to caramelize the high amount of sugars found in this bread, into a dark, brown crust. Lower the temp to 450F and bake for 10 minutes, rotate the loaves in the oven and bake for 10 minutes more.
The loaf should register 200F degrees in the center.

The loaf should be dark golden and it is not as crunchy as a French loaf would be. 

This is the real Italian loaf of bread #15 of my ONGOING challenge following the book by Peter Reinhart: THE BREAD BAKER'S APPRENTICE.


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