Traditional Tuscan Loaf

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Sara Novak Photo
Sara Novak

I have written before about the impact of making your own bread on your wallet and the planet. In order to keep your loaf as eco-friendly as possible, get your flour from the bins at your local grocery store. These bins usually feature an eclectic array of flour types, including many organic varieties, and if you use reusable bags you can avoid any packaging. Try and use local dairy as well when feasible.

I wanted to make a bread that didn't compete with the other ingredients in a recent dish. This Traditional Tuscan Loaf turned out to be the perfect choice. It has a deep, subtle bread flavor and doesn't contain salt, so it doesn't crowd out other flavors.

In Tuscany, this bread was used in recipes like panzanella because it doesn't overpower the other ingredients. It also works well with a bruschetta. I recently made a brushetta of Jerusalem artichokes. I also made a grilled cheese sandwich with a local white cheddar and caramelized onions and the bread accompanied the flavors perfectly. It has a wonderful crunchy texture if you don't over knead it, so make sure that you don't knead it for too long because it can become a bit dense.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups lukewarm water
3 1/4 cup organic all-purpose flour
1 cup organic whole wheat flour
1 package active dry yeast
1 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil

PREPARATION:

  1. Using the dough hook tool on a large mixing bowl (you could also do this by hand) combine water, 3/4 cup organic all-purpose flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, and 1 package dry yeast for 1 minute.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours. The dough will ferment into a bubbly, doughy mixture.
  3. Slowly add the remainder of the flour and the olive oil gradually until the dough forms. The dough will be a bit sticky and pretty elastic. This should take about 15 minutes.
  4. Coat a large bowl with olive oil and add the dough ball, turning so that the dough is lightly coated with olive oil. Allow to rise for about 2 hours, until it's doubled in size.
  5. Punch down the dough and shape into a round loaf by working in a downward movement underneath the bread.
  6. Transfer the dough to a greased baking sheet and lightly cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in an oven that's turned off for about 1 1/2 hours.
  7. Score the bread in a hatching manner.
  8. Place a baking sheet onto the bottom rack of the oven.
  9. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  10. Place the greased baking sheet holding the dough onto the middle oven rack and fill the empty baking sheet with a cup of very hot water.
  11. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown.
  12. Allow to cool completely on a rack.

    Recipe: The Joy of Cooking

This recipe appears in: Basic Dough
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