Yummy Fermented Goodness that is a labor of love (country italian bread)

Since I have been living the little to no carb lifestyle for almost a year now, one thing that surely is a treat is homemade bread.  I used to make it all the time when I first got my kitchen aid mixer and had a bread lover in the house.  My cousin asked me to make a post on my homemade bread crumbs.  I decided that bread crumbs would be even better if they came from homemade bread!  

I decided to make Cook's Illustrated country Italian bread, which found on one my old favorites, The Way the Cookie Crumbles.  I made this type of bread previously on one Sunday Funday and I forgot how labor intensive it was!  It is so delicious and worth it though, crusty and chewy at the same time! You have to make the biga, which is like a starter the day before you make the bread. I was watching two of my favorite munchkins recently on a Sunday morning so they helped me! 

Kate was ready to go with her Elsa and Ana apron!
Abby would have preferred a brownie!
Your simple ingredients, yeast, flour and room temperature water.  Cute 2 year old optional!
They are so good at helping, and even better at making a mess!
Pouring in the yeast, expecting it make it bubble right away.
Stick it in the fridge for a whole day.
Start the dough, which is the same ingredients, but adding salt.
Form it into a shaggy ball
Start the long rising process.  Into the pantry!
After the first hour it rose
Punch it back down.
After another hour in the pantry
Punch it down again.
After another hour in the pantry
Dump it out on a floured surface
Form a loaf and left it sit for another hour.  This is a lot of work for a school night!
After the final rest it is ready to go...Well, not quite.
Cut a line through it
And spray with water sprinkle with water
Put it in your very hot oven for 10 minutes.  Then lower the heat
After 35 minutes you have this beauty!
Let it cool on a rack for awhile.  I didn't do as long as recipe calls for as it was past my bed time!
Delicious! And it only took two days!
Italian Bread (Borrowed from The Way the Cookie Crumbles)

This recipe requires a standing mixer to make the dough, a spray-bottle filled with water for spritzing (or a silicone brush in a pinch!), a rectangular baking stone, and an instant-read thermometer  It also requires a lot of spare time and patience, the biga or the starter must be made the day before the dough is made.

11 ounces bread flour (2 cups)
1 packet instant yeast (I used Hodgson Mill)
1 cup water , room temperature

3 cups bread flour, plus extra for dusting hands and work surface
1 packet instant yeast (I used Hodgson Mill)
1⅓ cups water, room temperature
2 teaspoons table salt

1. For the biga: Combine flour, yeast, and water in bowl of standing mixer fitted with dough hook. Knead on lowest speed (stir on KitchenAid) until it forms a shaggy dough, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer biga to medium bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let stand at room temperature until beginning to bubble and rise, about 3 hours. Refrigerate biga at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.

2. For the dough: Remove biga from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature while making dough. Combine flour, yeast, and water in bowl of standing mixer fitted with dough hook; knead on lowest speed until rough dough is formed, about 3 minutes. Turn mixer off and, without removing dough hook or bowl from mixer, cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap; let dough rest 20 minutes.

3. Remove plastic wrap, add biga and salt to bowl, and continue to knead on lowest speed until ingredients are incorporated and dough is formed (dough should clear sides of bowl but stick to very bottom), about 4 minutes. Increase mixer speed to low (speed 2 on KitchenAid) and continue to knead until dough forms a more cohesive ball, about 1 minute. Transfer dough to large bowl (at least 3 times dough’s size) and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in cool, draft-free spot away from direct sunlight, until slightly risen and puffy, about 1 hour.

4. Remove plastic wrap and turn the dough by sliding a plastic bench scraper under one side of the dough; gently lift and fold one third of the dough toward the center. Fold the opposite side of the dough toward the center. Finally, fold the dough in half, perpendicular to first folds. Dough shape should be a rough square. Replace plastic wrap; let dough rise 1 hour. Turn dough again, replace plastic wrap, and let dough rise 1 hour longer.

5. To shape the dough: Dust work surface liberally with flour. Gently scrape and invert dough out of bowl onto work surface (side of dough that was against bowl should now be facing up). Dust dough and hands liberally with flour and, using minimal pressure, push dough into rough 8- to 10-inch square. Fold the top left corner diagonally to the middle; repeat step 2 with top right corner. Gently roll dough from top to bottom until it forms a rough log. Roll the dough into its seam, and, sliding hands underneath each end, transfer the dough to parchment paper. Gently shape dough into 16-inch football shape by tucking bottom edges underneath. Dust loaf liberally with flour and cover loosely with plastic wrap; let loaf rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, place baking stone on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees.

6. To bake: Using a lame, single-edged razor blade, or sharp chef’s knife, cut slit ½ inch deep lengthwise along top of loaf, starting and stopping about 1½ inches from ends; spray loaf lightly with water. Slide parchment sheet with loaf onto baker’s peel or upside-down baking sheet, then slide parchment with loaf onto hot baking stone in oven. Bake 10 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees and quickly spin loaf around using edges of parchment; continue to bake until deep golden brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center of loaf registers 210 degrees, about 35 minutes longer. Transfer to wire rack, discard parchment, and cool loaf to room temperature, about 2 hours.

Be on the lookout for some yummy recipes made from this!  I plan on making grilled cheese, bread crumbs and boudin balls with those breadcrumbs!  I know this recipe seems a bit intense, but it is easy to do on a day you are stuck at the house.  Not all bread takes this long, this one is just a special treat!  Here are some other ones I have tried that are a lot easier:

Happy Cooking!


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