bread baking challenge: # 15 ITALIAN BREAD

 ITALIAN BREAD, in an American kitchen. 

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

The use of large amount of biga (pre-fermenter) in Italian bread,  ensure a big quantity of sugars to break from  flour starch, hence a small amount of refined sugar used for this recipe compared with 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 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 in 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 half, of original size.

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


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

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

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