Amy Scherber's Crusty Italian Loaf - Tvfn Recipe
3/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup (2 ounces) very warm
1 water(105 to 115 degrees f)
1 cup (8 ounces)cool water ( 75
1 degrees f)
1 1/2 cup (12 ounces) sponge starter
1 (recipe follows)
3 1/2 cup (16 ounces) unbleached
1 all-purpose flour
1 tbsp plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
A sponge starter bread
Combine the warm water and yeast in a large bowl and stir with a fork
to dissolve the yeast. Let stand for
Add the cool water and sponge to the yeast mixture and mix with your
fingers for about 2 minutes, breaking up the sponge. The mixture
should look milky and slightly foamy. Add the flour and salt and mix
with your fingers to incorporate the flour, scraping the sides of the
bowl and folding the ingredients together until the dough gathers
into a mass. It will be wet and sticky, with long strands of dough
hanging from your fingers. If the dough is not sticky, add 1
tablespoon of water.
Move the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5
minutes, until it becomes supple and fairly smooth. This is a sticky,
wet dough; don't be tempted to add more flour to the work surface.
Just dust lightly and use a dough scraper as necessary to loosen the
dough from the table during kneading. Allow the dough to rest for 15
minutes, covered with oiled plastic wrap. (This rest period is the
Knead the dough 3 to 5 minutes, until it is stretchy and smooth, yet
still slightly sticky. Shape the dough into a loose ball, place it in
a lightly oiled bowl, and turn the dough in the bowl to coat with
oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise
at room temperature (75 to 77 degrees F) for about 1 hour, or until
the dough looks slightly puffy but has not doubled.
Place the dough in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, or
preferably, overnight to let it relax, develop flavor, and become
Take the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit at room
temperature for 1 to 2 hours, until it begins to warm up and starts
Flour a work surface well and gently dump the dough onto it. Divide
the dough into three equal pieces, about 13 ounces each. Gently
flatten one piece, pressing out some of the air bubbles, and stretch
it into a rectangle. Fold the top third down and the bottom third up
as if you were folding a business letter. Now form the loaf into a
short baguette by rolling the dough over from left to right and
sealing the seam with the heel of your palm. Fold the dough over
about 1/ 3 of the way each time, seal the length of the loaf, then
repeat. You want to gently draw the skin tight over the surface of
the loaf while leaving some air bubbles in the dough. Seal the seam,
being careful not to tear the skin of the dough or deflate its airy
structure. Do not elongate. These loaves are about 10 inches long.
Cover an area on the work surface with a thick layer of flour and
place the loaf, seam side down, on the flour. Repeat with remaining
pieces of dough. The loaves will be loose and slightly irregular in
shape. Leave plenty of space between the loaves they will spread as
they rise. Cover the loaves with well oiled plastic and let them rise
for 1 2 hours, until bubbly and loose.
Thirty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.
Place a baking stone in the oven to preheat and position an oven rack
just below the stone.
Sprinkle a peel very generously with cornmeal. Line an upside-down
baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle very generously with
cornmeal. Lift one loaf, flip it over so the floured side is on top,
and gently tug on the ends to stretch the loaf to the full length of
the peel, or about 14 inches on a pan. Repeat with the remaining
loaves, placing 2 on the peel and 1 on the pan. Dimple each loaf with
your finger in about 6 places, but don't deflate them too much. Be
sure the loaves are loosened from the peel, then carefully slide them
onto the baking stone. Place the pan of bread on the rack below the
stone. Using a plant sprayer, quickly mist the loaves with water 8 to
10 times, then quickly shut oven door. Mist the loaves again after 1
minute. Then mist again 1 minute later.
Bake for about 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 450 degrees
and bake 15 minutes longer or until the loaves sound slightly hollow
when tapped on the bottom and the crust is a medium to dark brown.
(If the crust is not brown enough, the loaves will soften as they
cool.) Transfer the bread to a rack to cool for at least 30 minutes
before serving. BAKERS' DOZEN AMY SCHERBER SHOW #BD1A52 Copyright,
1996, TV FOOD NETWORK, G.P., All Rights Reserved
to Ethnic Recipes
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