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Bob Rinaldi, a regular customer at our store, writes the following: "When I was a young boy I would ask my grandmother about Italy. She told such fantastic and exciting stories that as a young man I began to take romantic trips to the home of my family in the mountains of southern Italy. One story that Nonna told often was of bread. She complained that the bread in "'Merica" was too white and that was why people got sick so much. It took years of research and the patience of my teacher and bread coach Sharon Masone but here it is; the bread from the ovens of Calitri."
5 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 cup French-Style Flour
2 cups durum flour
1/4 cup pumpernickel
4 teaspoons vital wheat gluten
3 1/2 cups warm water
3 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
4 teaspoons kosher salt
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours and gluten. Stir together the yeast and water in a large mixing bowl (an electric mixer works well), add the salt, then gradually mix in the flours, leaving the dough fairly slack (wet). Mix for 12 to 14 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a well-floured board and knead till it's smooth. Divide it in half, and place each half in a 1-gallon plastic food bag, closing the top. Place each bag of dough in a heavy bowl, and put the bowls in the oven with the oven light on for 1 hour. Gently deflate the dough, and let it rise in the oven for an additional hour. The dough should have doubled in bulk.
Remove the dough from the bags and divide each piece in half. Form each piece into a log approximately 1 1/2 inches thick and 8 inches in diameter. Let the logs rest for 5 minutes, then place them on a floured peel, slash the top of each 3 times lengthwise, and spray each with cool water. I like to generously sprinkle herbes de Provence on top (Nonna used crushed rosemary), then Maldon sea salt.
Preheat your oven to 500°F for at least 20 minutes. Slide the bread onto the stone, reduce the temperature to 430°F, and set the timer for 30 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven when it's a deep golden brown. As hard as it is, let it cool before slicing. Yield: 4 loaves. That's it -- enjoy Nonna's Bread!