No, this Italian bread is very special because Husband baked it.
OK, he didn't really bake it. But he did divide the pre-ferment (in this case, a biga) into 10 equal pieces that I then could incorporate into the bread dough. When I arrived home and the biga pieces were cut and ready to go, Husband stated plainly, "See? I'm baking. You're welcome."
And am I ever glad he decided to bake. Peter Reinhart's Italian bread is amazing...simply amazing. I do not wish to overstate it, but really, this is (so far) my favorite recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice, hands down. It's so good that I've already made it twice this week. It is my new go-to homemade bread.
The method involves making the aforementioned biga, letting it proof, then allowing it to chill in the refrigerator at least overnight. Then you ask your husband to cut it into 10 pieces for you. Then you mix those pieces with bread flour, salt, sugar, yeast, diastatic malt powder, olive oil and water. Some mixing, some kneading, some proofing, some hearth baking, some magic.
This Italian bread is crusty on the outside, tender on the inside. It's wonderful to eat spread with soft butter, toasted with oil, black pepper and garlic powder, fried in a skillet with an over-medium egg or just torn off the loaf in big, unseemly hunks. I took two loaves to Sister's house last night to serve with her trick-or-treat night feast (this year she made chicken noodle and winter vegetable soups). Husband couldn't come along, as he was working, and it was all I could do to save him a few pieces. I've not seen two loaves of bread disappear so quickly in quite some time.
I'm very pleased Husband's foray into bread-baking turned out so well. Next, he shall learn to shape Kaiser rolls.
*I did not fully appreciate this in the 1980s, but the Keatons had a really bitchin' stove.
The Bread Baker's Apprentice challenge does not wish for us to share Reinhart's recipes. However, even if you don't have anyone to divide your biga for you, get yourself to page 172 of the book and start working. I'm even thinking of starting a few more loaves today -- even though I baked two yesterday. Peter Reinhart's Italian bread = seriously addictive.
And I'm not the only one who thinks so. Check out some of my fellow Bread Bakers' takes on delicious Italian bread:
- Paul of The Yumarama Artisan Bread Blog has helpful and lovely step-by-step photos of his Italian bread.
- Phyl at Of Cabbages and King Cakes likes this Italian bread as much as I do.
- Kelly of Something Shiny created some beautifully-scored artisan loaves. Seriously beautiful. Check them out!
- Goth Panda's Victoria is afraid of her biga.