Pugliese bread is a very wet dough which can be a bit difficult to work with. Overall, I'm pretty happy with the results.
Recipe from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum
The Dough Starter (Biga) Ingredients: unbleached all-purpose flour, instant yeast, water.
Mix ingredients with a wooden spoon, cover, and let rise till tripled in size (about 6 hours).
I don't really think it tripled, but I decided to proceed. (Room temperature can make a significant difference in the rise. Our thermostat is usually set at 64 degrees, and for bread rise, the ideal room temperature should be around 70ish. I think this made a difference. I did actually mean to bring up the temperature, but forgot. oops!) Once it's tripled in size, you can also refrigerate it up to 3 days. I refrigerated it overnight since I read this helps with the flavor development.
Dough ingredients: unbleached all-purpose flour, durum flour, instant yeast, salt, water and the biga.
A business letter fold. Oh the terms I'm learning! Trying to explain is a much bigger challenge. (I'm also now realizing I should of used a different angle for this picture to help with the explanation.) A business letter fold: stretch the dough into a rectangle and then fold in thirds, like a business letter. Hopefully that makes a bit of sense. This gets done three times with a 30 minute rest after the first two folds, and a 2 hour rest after the third fold.
Shaping and final rise. Round the dough and place seam side up in a banneton, or in my case a colander with a heavily floured towel. If the towel is not flowered enough, the dough will stick. Let rise till it has increased about 1 1/2 times (about 1 1/2 hours).
I've been discovering a lot of bread baking tools I'd like to have, one being a banneton which is a dough rising basket. A colander can be used here instead. The banneton (or colander) is used to help give the dough support during the final rise since this is a very wet dough and will spread, (There are several types of bannetons used for different purposes. Another type of banneton is used for decorative purposes. I hope to get one of these soon to try. )
Getting the dough out of the colander was a bit tricky. I'm really glad I followed the suggestion in the book. It's very important not to deflate the bread at this point. The book suggests if the colander is too tall, to cut a piece of cardboard into a circle slightly smaller than the colander. Before flipping the bread over, hold the cardboard directly above the dough as close as possible without actually touching the dough. Then flip the dough over. The dough will fall nicely on the cardboard without deflating. Then you just transfer it from the cardboard. (This is when I wish my husband was around to take pictures so you could actually see what I mean. Hopefully you get the picture.)
The bread! The crust came out wonderful. How does one get a beautiful crusty crust? Steam (at least that's what the pro's seem to be saying). I've read several steaming techniques. Of course you could buy a really (really) expensive oven that has a steaming devise, but being just a home baker.....well, need I say more. I decided to go with what seamed to be the safest technique. Some of the techniques had severe warnings about the possibility of getting your face burned. (No thank you.) I use a sheet pan and ice. I place a sheet pan on the lowest shelf while the the oven is preheating. (Let me digress for a moment. I also have the baking stone in the oven during preheat and I preheat the oven for at least an hour.) Once the bread is ready to bake, the next two steps have to be done as quick as possible to not let out too much heat from the oven. I first transfer the bread to the baking stone, and then throw 1/2 - 1 cup of ice in the sheet pan and quickly close the oven door. That's it. Done. Now I was expecting to actually see steam. I got worried it wasn't working when I didn't see any, but it works.
Only 2 breads (well, as of yesterday 3), and I can't believe how much I'm learning. And on the flip side, I can't believe how much there is to learn. Bread baking is truly an exciting and challenging journey.
Completely off topic, I really enjoy the blogging world. I had a bit of a disheartening situation that caused me to step back, and almost reconsider this blog. It was through reading other blogs that I realized what a shame that would be if I allowed someone else's opinion to stop me from doing something I enjoy. The blogging world is a bit of a community, and I've meet some wonderful people through blogging. I really enjoy reading what others are sewing, crafting, taking pictures of, cooking, baking, etc. And so many people have inspired me through their blogs. I don't really feel what I blog is very inspiring, but I truly enjoy it. This has also been a fantastic learning tool for myself. When I look at the pictures and try to describe what was happening, or what technique I used, the information actually sticks in my brain! :)
So thank you my fellow bloggers for sharing pieces of your life with the rest of the world!