Tuscan Bread

This recipe uses a biga, as a starter to give the bread a slightly sourdough taste which is characteristic of country breads.

We also make use of a full power food processor for speed and convenience.

INGREDIENTS:
Giga:
6 tablespoons warm water (100 to 110 degrees F.)
1 tablespoon dried active yeast ( up to one packet is acceptable)
3/4 cup of all purpose unbleached flour
1 tsp. sugar

Bread Dough:
3/4 cup warm water, more or less
1 cup whole wheat flour or bread flour
2 cup all purpose unbleached flour
extra flour for kneading and shaping
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt

YIELD: 1 loaf

COURSE: Bread and Baking

CUISINE: Italian

DIRECTIONS:

  1. To make the biga, pour the warm water into the bowl of the food processor and process in the yeast and sugar until dissolved. Then gradually add the flour to form a loose smooth batter.
  2. Give the biga 10 minutes or so to activate.
  3. Add the 3/4 cup of warm water and then add the flours, pulsing between cups. Process until the dough comes together in a large lump. This should happen within a minute or so of processing, If it does not, you will need to add a little more flour or a little more water, depending on the consistency of your dough.
  4. Lift the dough out onto a clean floured surface and knead for 5 to 10 minutes, remembering to flour your hands. Shape the dough by pulling the outside edge towards the middle, turning the dough as you go to form a ball. Flip over on to some flour and then pull gently to form a rough rectangle. Flip this over again onto a floured baking sheet so that the rough side is uppermost. Cover with a large upturned bowl and leave to rise until almost doubled - about 1 1/2 hours.
  5. Put a pan of hot water on the bottom of your oven. Bake the bread at 400 degrees F for 35 to 40 minutes until it sounds hollow when tapped on the underside. Cool on a wire rack. Cut and enjoy. This bread will also freeze well, and keep for up to 3 months.