I so rarely buy bread now. Except for some very special bread I might come across, and of course sourdough. I sometimes love to make my own. I don’t do it every week, mind you, although there have been times in my life where I have made bread several times per week.
This recipe is an oldie but a goodie. It is a wonderful, beautiful flavoured, light textured but very crusty bread. The basis of the recipe is from Giuliano Bugialli, but I have altered it somewhat across the years.
I have also made the bread, used a multi-grain flour from an organic shop.
Pane di Prato
Makes 1 small loaf.
1 cup bakers flour
4 tspn dry yeast
0.5 cups tepid water
2.5 cup bakers flour
up to 1 cup tepid water
Starter: Put the flour for the starter sponge in a large bowl and make a well in it. Dissolve the yeast in the water and pour into the well and mix with a wooden spoon or by hand, incorporating the flour to make a thick batter. Cover with a towel and let rest in a warm, draft free place for up to 12 hours. This can be done in the morning or night before.
Rising: When ready to make the bread, add the sponge, water, salt and flour to the breadmaker and, on the “dough only” setting, allow to knead and rise. Rest for 15 minutes after the breadmaker has finished its cycle.
Alternatively knead it by hand or in a mixer with a dough hook, and leave to rise until the dough is doubled in size.
To cook: Preheat the oven to 220C. Find a pot that is oven proof and is more than large enough to hold the dough. It is good if it has a lid, otherwise fashion one out of tin foil. Preheat the pot in the oven for 20 – 30 minutes. (Alternatively you can cook on an oven tray or on preheated unglazed terracotta tiles lining the bottom shelf of the oven, but the pot does work well.)
Turn the dough out on a floured board and knead lightly. It is Ok to incorporate a little more flour. Shape the dough as desired and leave to rise for another 30 – 60 minutes.
Place the dough into your preheated pot, cover and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to bake for around 30 more minutes or until browned and cooked.
Alternatively place the dough onto the oven tray or tiles and bake for around 45 minutes until cooked.
Cool (if you can be patient) on a rack. HOWEVER there is nothing like warm bread with home made jam, or just with butter, or with the Provolone left over from the Semolina Pasta.