Silvia is back in her Cucina! After two and a half months away in Melbourne threading the boards at the Malthouse theatre, playing the role of a dilemma-stricken bride who runs off with her ex-boyfriend on her wedding day, I feel an utter sense of well-being walking around in my kitchen, re-familiarizing with my tools, pots and pans, as I watch my little boys play in the front verandah…Ah the bliss of domestic life! To say that I have missed my kitchen is an understatement. My urge to be dusted in flour is not merely physical. I need that sense of inner peace that the knowledge that a dough of some sort is proving in my house will bring. Acting is a wonderful way to express creativity, but it can at times take a toll on your soul, especially when the role you play every night is so tormented. My therapy is baking. Bread, needles to say. I came across this wonderful recipe in one of my favorite bread books and I am so happy to be sharing this with you. I hope, no matter what you are going through in your lives, the act of baking bread may bring serenity and balance. And a house that smells like an Italian bakery.
Recipe adapted from Jan Hedh’s Artisan Breads
Makes 2 medium loaves or 3 smaller ones
For the Ferment (biga)
1/2 teaspoon of dry yeast
2 cups of lukewarm water
1 cup of durum wheat flour
3 cups of stone ground wheat flour (baker’s flour)
Dissolve the yeast in the water, add the flour and work it with a wooden spoon until you have thick batter. Cover it with plastic film and rest in the fridge overnight or at room temperature for 2 1/2 -3 hours, or until bubbly and risen.
For the Dough
The risen ferment, at room temperature (take out of the fridge 1 hour before kneading if you rested it overnight)
2 teaspoons of dry yeast
2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
2-3/4 cups of strong stone gourd flour (baker’s flour) plus 3 or 4 tablespoons more if the enough is too sticky.
2 teaspoons of salt
1. Put the risen ferment in a large bowl, add the yeast and mix it in with a wooden spoon until combined.
2. Add the oil, egg and the flour and combine with a wooden spoon.
3. Tip the dough onto a floured surface and knead well for 5 minutes. If the dough feels to sticky , add a little flour. Bare in mid that this is supposed to be a soft dough, but should come away easily from your fingers.
4. Stretch the dough into a rectangle, add the salt and knead well for another 5 minutes or until shiny and smooth. Roll into a ball, place in a large , oiled container. Cover with a damp tea-towel and leave it to prove at room temperature for 1 hour. take the dough out of the container, knock it back, stretch it tint a rectangle, fold it into three and then shape back tint a ball. Place the dough back into the oiled container and leave to prove for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until it has doubled in size.
1. Place the dough onto a floured surface. Divide into 2 or 3 portions , according to the size of loves you are after. You can even divide into 6/8 and make individual dinner rolls.
2. Flatten each portion of dough with your hands or a rolling pin. Roll the dough onto itself to shape a crescent or a cigar.
3. Leave the dough to prove for 45/60 minutes onto an oven tray lined with baking paper. Bring your oven to 210 C, 410 F. Place an empty metal bowl in the oven to heat up.
4. Just before baking, score the breads to your liking.
5. Carefully slide the tray in the oven, fill the heated metal bowl with cold water to create steam, close the oven door and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped with your finger.
6. Cool on a rack at room temperature. Enjoy as it is or fill with your favorite cold meat and cheese for the ultimate Panino experience!
- Bake Some Italian Country Bread (jovinacooksitalian.com)
- Herb Infused Olive Oil & Olive Oil Recipe | Pottery Barn (potterybarn.com)
- Kanelfläta: Swedish Cinnamon Braid (myitaliansmorgasbord.com)