Tuscan bread FTW
For the biga starter:
Flour, 200 g ( 7 oz )
Water, 200 g ( 7 oz )
Yeast, 1/4 tsp
For the dough:
Flour, 500 g ( 17 + 1/2 oz )
Water, 250 g ( 8 + 3/4 oz )
Yeast, 1 tsp
pre heat the oven at: 260 °C ( 500 °F )
bake at: 230 °C ( 446 °F )
Materials and Methods
It started like it always does. I become obsessed with a food, ingredient or method and can’t stop until I am happy with the results.
One day I noticed that I like bread. I like bread a lot. So I decided to make bread.
For 15 days in a row I baked. The results going from me being sick (sour dough is a difficult problem in a tropical country) to pretty acceptable.
Most bread recipes use a specific way of measuring ingredients the “baker’s percentage”:
Baker’s Percentage, an Introduction:
A scale is your friend. All ingredients are by weight.
As the most important ingredient flour, is considered to be 100%. All the other ingredients are considered to be a percentage of the weight of the total flour.
A typical bread would be 100% of flour to 60% (up to 65%) of water, 2% salt
And no. Those ingredients do not add up to 100%.
A very wet bread.
So far all my breads have been on that average, and the results were good but not great.
Until one day a friend of mine posted about an 80% water bread. My first reaction was what was expected for any logical human being.
I didn’t believe it. Then I was curious.. and obsessed..
High water breads have one major of problem: Gluten vs Over-mixing.
In order for the bread to have structure, you have to develop the gluten.
To develop the gluten you have to work the dough. However, you overwork the dough (you guessed) it will oxidate and taste awful.
The solution for this is: Do a very slow rise. Give the gluten time to develop. Let time do the work for you.
This bread has over 10 hours of rise time.
The Tuscan Bread
The answer was found in this book about Tuscan cuisine , which I highly recommend (funnily enough it was in the music section of the bookshop). The first 80 pages are dedicated to bread, and they are not the only pages talking about it.
The Tuscan bread has no salt in it. To make it into a regular Italian loaf, just add 2 tsp of salt when you mix the dough.
The biggest consequence of having no salt is that the yeast is slightly happier when it grows..
The second consequence is that the bread is fantastic with a high premium salted butter like Aviação (if you live in Brasil), Beurre de Baratte (with fleur de sel) or Vermont Butter with kosher salt (I assume).
I also assume that they would be great for bruschettas.. unfortunately I didn’t have any leftovers.
This is the expedite version: start the biga on one day, leave it overnight on the fridge, wake up, form the dough and bake.
Making the biga starter (6 hours):
Easy peasy: mix water, flour and the yeast. Cover with a tea towel and let it sit on a warm place for 6 hours. By then, the top should be covered in bubbles.
My suggestion: start at 2 PM if you can.
Making the dough (overnight on the fridge + 30 mins the next morning):
Mix the biga with the other ingredients and work the dough for 5 minutes.
Place in a large bowl (remember that it will double the volume), cover with a tea towel and let it rise overnight in the fridge.
In the morning, get your dough scraper and remove the dough from the bowl into a baking pan.
Be very careful not to pop any bubbles
Let it rest for the final 30 minutes.
Bake it! (40-50 minutes)
Preheat the oven.
Put the baking pan with the dough inside and immediately reduce the temperature.
Here is where it gets weird.
You need to have steam in your oven during the first minutes in order to have a crunchy crust.
There are some alternatives: I prefer the old Nonna style:
Throw a tray of ice cubes directly onto the oven floor. Close the oven door and try as hard as you can to pretend that you are not the slightest bit afraid of the hissing and cracking.
Just be careful, I never had any problems with this method with my old oven. However, with my new oven, the melting ice once put off the flame of the gas burner . So keep an eye on it.
Have some wonderful bread
Enjoy. This is by far the best bread I’ve ever baked.
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