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.

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
  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.