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This crusty, slightly domed and delicious peasant bread is made with a very slack (wet) dough. The dough is almost impossible to work with, but produces a pleasingly open texture. A long fermentation enhances the bread's flavor.
1/2 cup (4 ounces) water
1 1/4 cups (5 1/8 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
In a small mixing bowl, combine the water, flour and yeast to form a soft dough. Don't knead it; just make sure all of the ingredients are well-incorporated. Set this mixture aside in a warm place, covered, for 12 to 16 hours.
DoughKnead all of the dough ingredients together, using a mixer or bread machine (this is well nigh impossible to knead by hand), until the dough is cohesive and elastic (though not necessarily smooth), about 10 minutes. Cover the dough and let it rise in a warm place for 2 to 3 hours, gently stirring it down each hour. (The longer you let the dough rise at this point, the better the flavor of the finished loaf will be).
all of the biga (above)
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) water
4 cups (17 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
Lightly grease a half-sheet pan or other flat pan. Scoop the very wet dough, in two separate pieces, onto the pan lengthwise, shaping each piece into a rough oval as best you can. Cover the dough with heavily greased plastic wrap, and allow it to rise for about 90 minutes. It'll spread quite a bit; don't worry, it's supposed to.
Spray the loaves heavily with warm water, and bake them in a preheated 450°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until they're a deep, golden brown. Turn the oven off, prop the door open, transfer the loaves from the pan to the oven rack, and allow them to cool in the turned-off oven. Yield: 2 loaves.
Nutrition information per serving (1 slice, 1/10th of 1 loaf, 48g): 108 cal, less than 1g fat, 3g protein, 23g complex carbohydrates, 1g dietary fiber, 214mg sodium, 43mg potassium, 2mg iron, 1mg calcium, 30mg phosphorus.