This week’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge is Peter Reinhart’s recipe for Italian Bread (which you can get from his book below, starting on page 172-174). Friends joined me in the kitchen and together we made our own individual portions of this bread.
The bread starts out with a biga starter which is then cut into pieces and introduced with the other dry ingredients – bread flour, yeast, salt, sugar, oil and water. Unlike previous weeks when I used my stand mixer to do the kneading for me, we call took a quarter of the dough and kneaded it by hand. We found bread baking as a group to be pretty enjoyable as we kneaded the together over some good conversation! For the first rise, we shaped our dough into a boule. Once the first rise was finished, we began shaping our doughs into batards.
Once our loaves doubled in size, we were able to prep our oven for baking. These baked at 500 degrees along with a steam pan and a spritz of water along the oven walls. The oven temperature was then dropped to 450 degrees and baked until done. It took about 15-20 minutes for these to finish.
I really enjoyed making this recipe and thought the process was pretty easy. It takes some patience with bread, but thankfully I had a lot going in the kitchen to make the time go by fast while these were proofing. Next time, I plan on making Italian dinner rolls or perhaps incorporating dried herbs for additional flavor!