Pane Rustico – Rustic Italian Bread

Italian Peasant Bread is a staple in Italy. The recipe changes slightly between locations depending on what grains are available. It has a good hole structure, soft crumb and firm crunchy crust. Unlike most Italian breads this one incorporated no milk or olive oil.

Italian Peasant Bread

This isn’t a difficult recipe and can be made on one morning. I hand kneaded the wet dough but may try the easier stretch and fold method the next time. The results were worth the little extra effort of kneading. The Q.A. Department is in favor of any method that turns out this delicious.

The final Bâtard was 17”x7”x4”.

Biga – (Mix 8 to 10 hours before mixing the final dough)

Measured Grams Ingredients
• 1 cup 227 g. Water (room temperature)
• ¼-tsp. ¼-tsp. Instant Yeast
• ½ cup 72 g. All Purpose Flour (King Arthur, Unbleached, Unbromated)
• ½ cup 81 g. Tipo 00 Whole Wheat Flour
• ¼ cup 41 g. Cornmeal (whole, stone ground)

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the water, instant yeast, all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, and cornmeal.
  2. Mix with a rubber spatula to combine and then beat well. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap (cling film) and let ferment at room temperature 68º-74ºF (20º-23ºC) for 8 to 10 hours.

Final Dough
Measured Grams Ingredients
• 2-½ cups 421 g. Biga (fully fermented)
• 1 cup 227 g. Water (room temperature)
• ½-tsp. 3 g. Instant Yeast
• 3-½ cups 490 g. All purpose flour
• 2 tsp. 16 g. Sea Salt (fine)

Mixing, Kneading, and Fermenting the Dough

  1. Uncover the fermented biga and add the water, instant yeast, and half of the all-purpose flour.
  2. Use a rubber spatula to mix the ingredients until thick batter forms. Beat the batter until well combined.
  3. Add the remaining all-purpose flour and sea salt. Fold the ingredient together using the rubber spatula until the mixture becomes a shaggy mass.
  4. Scrape off the rubber spatula with the plastic scrape. Scrape down the bowl and turn the dough onto the work surface.
  5. Knead the ingredients for 1 minute to incorporate the ingredients. The dough will be sticky. “Do not add any flour to the work surface.”
  6. Continue to knead the dough for 6 to 8 minutes or until the dough is strong and elastic. Round the dough into a ball.
  7. Spray a bowl with non-stick spray or oil and place the dough into the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap.
  8. Ferment the dough for 1 hour at room temperature.
  9. After 1 hour. Lightly flour the work surface. Uncover the dough and turn it onto the lightly flour work surface.
  10. Fold the dough
  11. Place the folded dough back into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
  12. Ferment the dough 1 hour.
  13. After 1 hour. Lightly flour the work surface. Uncover the dough and turn it onto the lightly flour work surface.
  14. Degas and fold the edges of the dough to the center to start to form the dough into a round shape.
  15. Clear the work surface of the flour.
  16. Turn the dough over and continue to pre-shape the dough into a tight round. The seam will be on the bottom.
  17. Cover the dough with the bowl and let the dough rest for 15 minutes before the final shaping.
  18. Pre-heat the oven and baking stone to 500ºF (260ºC) for at least 1 hour before baking the loaf.

Equipment:

• Baking Couche
• Bakers Lame
• Large Stainless Steel Bowl
• Baking Stone 14″ x 16″
• ¼-Sheet of Parchment Paper
• Baker’s Peel/Pizza Peel

Final Shaping and Proofing the Dough

  1. After the 15-minute rest uncover the dough. Lightly flour the top of the round and turn the dough over onto the work surface with the seam side up.
  2. Degas and shape the dough into an oval.
  3. Shape the dough into “Bâtard” (loaf shape)
  4. Lightly flour the canvas baking cloth.
  5. Place the Bâtard seam side up onto the floured canvas and fold each side to cover the ends of the loaf first. Then fold the remaining canvas to enclose the Bâtard. This will keep the loaf from spreading while it is proofing.
  6. Proof the loaf for 50 minutes to a 1 hour at room temperature. Check to see if the dough is ready by the touch test. Lightly press the dough with your fingertip. The dough should hold the indentation if the dough should pushes back completely let it continue to proof until it holds an indentation from your finger.
  7. Place the parchment paper onto the baking peel.
  8. Uncover the proofed loaf and place it seam side down onto the ¼-sheet of parchment paper.
  9. Use a straight edge razor or sharp knife to cut a long slash from end to end of the loaf.
  10. Slide the loaf onto the 500ºF (260ºC) preheated oven onto the baking stone. Place the large stainless steel bowl over the loaf.
  11. Bake the loaf with the bowl over it for 10 minutes.
  12. After 10 minutes, remove the bowl using tongs and kitchen hot pads.
  13. Reduce the oven temperature to 450ºF (232ºC). Turn the loaf to get even browning and remove the parchment paper.
  14. Continue to bake the loaf for 20 to 25 more minutes or until the exterior of the loaf is a deep golden brown.
  15. Using the peel. Remove the baked Italian Peasant Bread from the oven.
  16. Place the baked Italian Peasant Bread onto a cooling rack and cool completely to room temperature before cutting.

Terza Volta un Incanto

Ever hear the third times a charm? Well, believe it—it’s true. This was my third attempt at this bread. The first two were disasters due to simple, stupid mistakes. In the first one I used 2 Tbl of salt instead of 2 tsp. I proofed the second one too warm. I tossed the first one. Not only did it take forever to rise due to the salt retarding the yeast, the salt taste was overwhelming. Plus I forgot the egg wash so the crust was dull and unappealing. The second was proofed in the proofing oven and rose too fast causing splits along the sides and when scored with the lame it flattened but was still ok to use for garlic bread.

The third and successful bake was proofed at room temperature for 15 minutes shorter than the recipe called for, but still doubling the size of the dough. I also activated the yeast for 10 min prior to adding the rest of the ingredients. (Step 1 below.)

Italian Supermarket Bread KAF

INGREDIENTS
Dough
• 4 cups (482g) AP Flour
• 2 tablespoons (21g) potato flour or 1/4 cup (21g) dried potato flakes
• 1/4 cup (35g) nonfat dry milk
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 2 teaspoons sugar
• 2 teaspoons instant yeast
• 1 1/3 cups (301g) lukewarm water
• 3 tablespoons (35g) olive oil
Topping
• 1 egg white, beaten with 1 tablespoon water, or substitute Quick Shine
• sesame seeds
METHOD

  1. In your stand mixer bowl combine the yeast, sugar and water and allow to rest for 10 minutes
  2. Add half of the flour and all of the rest of the dough ingredients till cohesive. Add the rest of the
    flour mixing between each addition
  3. Knead the dough for 5 to 8 minutes, until it’s smooth and supple, adding more water or flour as
    needed.
  4. Cover the dough and allow it to rise for 1 hour, or until it’s doubled in bulk.
  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface and divide it into two pieces. Shape each
    piece into a smooth 16″ log. Place the logs into the two wells of a lightly greased Italian bread
    pan, cover, and let the loaves rise until very puffy, about 1 hour.
  6. Brush the loaves with the egg wash (or spray them with Quick Shine), then sprinkle heavily with
    sesame seeds. Slash the loaves diagonally, making 3 slashes in each, and immediately put them in the oven. Bake in a preheated 400°F oven for about 25 minutes, until the loaves are golden brown. For the crispiest crust, turn off the oven, prop the door open, and allow the bread to cool in the oven