Calling all bread bakers!
  Re: (...)
I have made it my new goal to learn how to make really good bread without the use of my bread machine. So, if a recipe calls for a biga or starter, can that be left out on the kitchen counter (covered, of course)? The recipe I have says to mix the starter and that it can be left out for 6 hours or refrigerate overnight. For anyone who is interested, here is the recipe I am trying.

Sicilian Bread by Deborah Mele

1 Cup Biga Made The Day Before
3 Cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (Plus More For Working & Shaping)
3 Cups Fine Semolina
6 Teaspoons Active Dry Yeast
1 Teaspoon Salt
Cornmeal For Baking
3 Cups Warm Water
Oil For Brushing Top
1/3 Cup Sesame Seeds

1. Combine the yeast and one cup of warm water in a large bowl and let rest until bubbly. Add the rest of the water, the two flours, salt and the biga, and stir until the dough is mixed. Turn the dough out onto a floured counter or breadboard, and using as little flour as possible, knead for 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth. Place the dough into a large bowl three times the size of the dough that has been lightly oiled first. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let sit in a warm spot for 2 to 3 hours, or until the dough has doubled. Alternatively, you can place the covered bowl of dough in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning punch down the dough, shape, and let rise again at room temperature until doubled.

2. If making the bread the same day, once it has doubled in size, punch down the dough. If using baking sheets, sprinkle them lightly with cornmeal. If you are using a baking stone, flour two kitchen towels, or bread making peels with flour, and place the shaped loaves on them to rise. Shape the bread in either two small round loaves, or one large one. Preheat the oven at this time to 425 degrees F. Cover loosely with towels, and let rise an additional 45 minutes. Brush the bread with a little olive oil, and sprinkle on the sesame seeds.

3. Bake for about 30 minutes for two small loaves, or 45 minutes for one large one, rotating the loaves once during this time, or until the bread is a dark golden brown all over, and hollow sounding when tapped with your fingers. Remove and let cool on a wire rack.

Notes: I use a baker's peel and pizza stone to bake my breads, but you can use a flat baking sheet as well. You can either make this bread in one day, or let it rise overnight in the refrigerator, and bake it the second day.

"Drink your tea slowly and reverently..."
  Re: Calling all bread bakers! by Mare749 (I have made it my ne...)
That recipe is very similar to my Morroccan bread recipe--one of these days I will give this a try. Yes--you may leave biga out on the counter--I usually make mine early evening the day before I will use it and leave out all night. Sourdough recipes call for that method, so why not?? Bread flour does have more protein--gluten-- than all-purpose but not a whole heck of a lot. I use them interchangeably with no noticeable differences--but then, a lot of the time I don't have a choice. King Arthur products are the best (IMHO) and it's really easy to order on line. If you are really serious about baking--you might give them a shout! Worth it.
"Never eat more than you can lift" Miss Piggy
  Re: Calling all bread bakers! by Mare749 (I have made it my ne...)
Hi Mare,
You might enjoy this one, from one of my earlier posts,
here's our family's favorite Italian bread recipe:
This can be done with an electric mixer or food processor (processor works best tho').
Combine in bowl
4C bread flour
1T sugar
1t salt
1t basil
2t garlic salt (more if you like)
1pkg yeast
1/2C grated parm. cheese
1 T olive oil

Blend well, adding water (up to 1 and 1/2 C) slowly til dough forms. Beat on med for 3 minutes or 45 sec. in processor.
Place in greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap til doubled(about 45mins)
Punch down and shape into a baguette in bread trough or on baking sheet.Make 3 slashes across top with a sharp knife. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and raise again for 30mins
Bake at 375 for 30-35mins on stone (may take longer without stone) Serve warm
Empress for Life
  Re: Re: Calling all bread bakers! by farnfam (Hi Mare,[br]You migh...)
Thanks Cynthia, that certainly looks easy enough. DH's going to love all this fresh bread!

Roxanne, I know what you mean about the bread flour vs. AP. I have used both and still haven't figured out what difference it makes. We are fortunate to have KA flour readily available in the US, so I do use it. However, I haven't noticed any difference between that and other popular brands.

But then I shouldn't be reviewing any kind of flour because I have never been much of a baker. For some reason I enjoy cooking more. You know, add a little of this, that, and taste as you go. Baking bread is a rather new interest for me.

"Drink your tea slowly and reverently..."
  Re: Re: Calling all bread bakers! by Mare749 (Thanks Cynthia, that...)
What ever you do, if you are using yeast [even if it's in a glass bottle or foil packet], don't let my sister Fredia touch it. If she does, throw it away, it's dead! She can't wear a watch for more than a few days or it becomes magnetized and won't work. The only metals she can wear for more than a few hours without breaking out is platinum or white gold.
Don't wait too long to tell someone you love them.

  Re: Re: Calling all bread bakers! by Mare749 (Thanks Cynthia, that...)
Once you start baking your own breads--you will have a tough time returning to the "bought" ones. I love the kneading process---sooo much frustration and stress goes into that I always feel better--and then the aromas---heaven!!! But the BEST---eating with melting butter, fresh out of the oven---oh my!!! Something about homemade bread---brings back many childhood memories--that's all we ever had---and it didn't last very long!!!

You must try Cindy's garlic bread---it is REALLY good!!!
"Never eat more than you can lift" Miss Piggy

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