I'm glad that the Italian bread happens to be the bread that immediately follows the French Bread alphabetically in in Peter Reinhart's book The Bread Baker's Apprentice because I was able to compare the two breads that I baked in succession in the BBA Challenge. n.o.e.'s notes:
- This bread uses a pre-ferment mixture called a biga. I used regular bread flour and 1.5 tsp of fresh yeast in my biga.
- After the biga rests and ferments in the fridge for a day or so, it's time to mix up the dough. The biga is cut into 12 pieces and mixed with new ingredients, in my case King Arthur's "European style flour" and fresh yeast. I love the elegance of using a food processor at this stage, as it cleanly and efficiently incorporates the biga into the new ingredients, producing a lovely supple dough in just a minute or two.
I made a series of missteps in the rising and the shaping and the slashing, but in the end it didn't matter because the first rule of the kitchen is "taste rules" and this bread tasted amazing! We preferred the more substantial taste of this bread to the French bread of a few weeks before. This is likely to become my "go to" hearth bread, which should give me plenty of opportunity to perfect the aesthetics of my Italian bread loaves.