I love this bread. Such a nice, glossy, slightly golden interior and spongy texture. Great for dipping in olive oil, and let’s not get started about sandwiches.
Did I say get started? Then let’s. Gather your ingredients. Your refrigerated starter should be bubbly, about like so (fancy crockery bowl not required):
Put it into the bowl of your mixer (it’ll deflate totally):
Then add your dry ingredients on top (note I’m making eight loaves’ worth here, so your quantities will be different, though the overall look and feel of the dough will be the same).
Mix with the paddle for two minutes to moisten, then apply the dough hook for five minutes. The finished product should look like this:
Wet and stretchy, no? That’s a good thing. Transfer to a bowl and let sit for half an hour. Then give it a stretch or two to spread the yeast around.
Wait another half hour and give it another stretch.
Then another half hour and one more stretch.
Is it sticky, messy work?
So then, once the stretching is all done, let the dough rise for almost two hours, until it triples in volume and looks like this (this is half my dough, the rest is in another bowl that looks just like this…it didn’t seem to warrant another photo):
Turn the dough out onto a VERY well-floured board (durum, if you’re using it). Then cut it into 13-ounces pieces with a bench scraper or knife.
Now then, fetching the closest available small basket, bowl or colander, line it with a towel or napkin and sprinkle with more flour (durum, preferably)
Place your lump of dough in it, bringing the cut sides up to the top of the ball and pinching them closed. This is all the shaping you’ll need to do for this very slack dough.
Sprinkle with more flour, fold the corners of the cloth over to cover and let sit for 1 1/4 hours or so until the loaves are very poofy.
With your oven up to blazing temperature, dust your peel with flour.
Turn your dough out onto it…
…and slash the tops as best you can with a razor blade or sharp knife. Dough this wet doesn’t slash too well, but if you can manage it, the loaves will come out prettier.
Insert into your oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.
I know, you probably don’t have one of these. However when I get back next week I’ll show you how to prepare your own oven to be more like a big, brick hearth. Until then, have a Merry Christmas all you baking fanatics!