Saturday, March 14, 2009

Crusty Italian Bread

I was up late last night, and got the baking bug. Seriously, at like 11:00 PM. I decided to make a waffle batter for this morning, and also figured it would be a great time to whip up a biga (starter) for some bread today. (The first photo below is the biga after about 14 hours.)

I whipped out my handy-dandy King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion to see what sounded good. I landed on the Crusty Italian Bread, the recipe for which also happens to be on their website. As with everything I've tried from them, this was straightforward and fairly idiot-proof. My kind of bread.

I did have to laugh at how it looked when I finished, though. It was my first attempt at a braid, and I realized as I was braiding that all of my strands weren't the same thickness. That's something I'll fix next time. I had also used all of my larger pans for the pirogs earlier in the day, so I had to use a smaller one. The loaf was a little bit too big for the pan, so it ended up somewhat curved. Note to self for next time: make sure a big enough pan is available.

This will become a fixture at our house. As much as I love pretty braided breads, I'll probably just make it into a couple of loaves next time, so that I can freeze one. It was perfectly crusty on the outside, a little chewy (but still soft) on the inside, and just the right amount of salt. I'm not a huge sesame seed fan, either, so I'll leave those off next time I make it. This one's definitely a keeper.

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