My homemade bread | Italian way
Updated: May 19
There are those who make bread at home because it's fun, those who do it to forget a pain, to prepare a healthy product, or even just for the great satisfaction it gives to prepare your homemade bread. Many commercial breads are indeed full of preservatices and chemicals which diminish the quality of the bread.
Whatever your motivation is, a good slice of bread really can put a smile on the faces of many.
The warm smell of the dough in the oven, and that of the bread when is ready, fills my kitchen with pure love. And it feels just like home, like family. How joyful is waking up in the morning, and spread a generous amount of jam on your homebake slice of bread? The little things of life.
I started preparing my bread some years ago, though I didn't do it frequently.
Lately, I've tried this recipe, adjusted a little bit according to my capacities and tast, and I think it's really good. Matt loves it, he'd be able to eat it up within one day! I always have to hide it from him :)
Although it is undoubtedly easier to go to the bakery and buy it ready, choosing to bake our daily bread by ourselves, transforms the bread from simple food seen as responsible for the extra weight to a precious ally for the well-being of our body (obviously, in the right doses...).
So, this recipe is easy to follow, doesn't request too many passages, but just one single huge rule: TIME. Time is essential to get a natural, fresh and delicious bread. So don't knead in a hurry, just give yourself the time it takes produce a light, airy loaf.
This bread recipe uses the "biga", or "sponge" method. It's a type of "pre-fermentation" used mainly in Italy. This allows to get a texture with air holes, and a bread which is soft inside but crunchy on the outside.
I suggest to pre-knead your batter the evening before, in order to give it the time to rise overnight, and have it ready for lunch the day after.
For the biga:
250gr / 2 cups strong flour (type 1 or 2)
5gr / 1 tsp dried yeast
325ml / 1 cup + 2 tbsp water
For the dough:
250gr / 2 cups plain white flour
10gr / 0.3oz fine salt
You'll also need a clean gardener's spray bottle full of water - you'll be using to create a steamy atmosphere in the oven, to help the bread to rise and develop a good crust.
LET'S DO IT
For the biga: combine in a bowl the strong flour with yeast and water and form a thick batter. Cover with cling film and leave overnight to ferment.
The next morning, add the remaining flour and the salt to the bowl, then knead for 10 minutes until all the flour has been absorbed. Leave it to rise for two hours in a warm place until doubled in size
Preheat the over to 250 °C / 480 °F
Prepare a baking sheet lined with kitchen paper
Knead the dough again, quickly, then give it a shape and place it on the baking sheet
Slash the top with a sharp knife
Put the loaf into the oven and give it a few splashes with the spray bottle over and around it
After 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 200°C / 400°F, give another spray and bake for further 30 minutes. If it sounds hollow when you tap its base, it means is ready.
I know. The smell is crazy. It's difficult to resist cutting the fresh loaf of bread righ after it emerges from the oven, but it is best to wait a while. Apart from the fact that your efforts will taste so much better if left to cool a bit, cutting hot bread is nearly impossible, cause the dough would clump around the knife, plus it's not a good thing to expose the hot dough to cold air. So just wait an hour.
Storage: keep your bread in a plastic bag, this would prevent the air from hardening it.
If you eat it the day after, make sure to heat it so it'll be softer.
Should you my bread at home, do not forget to tag the Instagram page and use the hashtag #twocabbageskitchen. We'll looooove to see your creations :)
Love & Enjoy.
Cristiana & the Cabbages