Home-made Italian bread

Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups Biga
2 1/2 cups White bread flour
1 2/3 teaspoons Salt
1 tablespoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Instant yeast
1 tablespoon Olive oil
3/4 cup to 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Luke warm water, 32 to 38°C

Directions:

1. If your biga has been kept in the refrigerator, remove it at least one hour before baking and allow it to come to room temperature. Cut the bigs into chunks. Stir together the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a large bowl, or if you are using an electrical mixer, then mix in the bowl of the electrical mixer. Add the bigs chunks, the olive oil and 3/4 cup water. Stir together, or mix using the paddle attachment of the electrical mixer set to low speed. Mix until the dough forms a ball. The dough should be soft and not very sticky. If the dough is too stiff add the additional one or two tablespoons of water (as needed). The dough should be too soft rather than too stiff.

2. If kneading by hand, sprinkle some flour on your work surface and knead the bread for about 10 minutes until the dough is supple. If using an electrical mixer turn the speed to medium and mix with the dough hook for ten minutes. The internal temperature of the dough should be between 25 and 27℃. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the oiled bowl. Make sure all the dough surfaces are coated with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and leave the dough at room temperature to ferment for 2 hours. The dough should double in size.

3. Once the dough has doubled in size, gentle remove the dough from the bowl and shape it into a boule (round shape) taking care not to degauss the dough too much. Lightly sprinkle the dough with flour, cover with a kitchen towel and let it rest for 5 minutes. Reshape the bread in the boule form and put the dough in a banneton (brotform) or loaf pan. Mist with some spray oil and cover loosely with some plastic wrap leaving enough room for the dough to expand. Proof at room temperature for about 1 hour. The dough should proof to about 1 1/2 times its original size.

4. Heat your oven to about 260℃ or as high as it can go. Place a baking stone (if you use one) on the middle tray and  heavy-duty pan on the bottom and allow the oven to come to full heat. Score your loaf with a razor blade or very sharp knife and transfer onto the baking stone. Lay a towel over your oven’s glass door and pour a cup of hot water into the hot pan. Close the oven door and wait for 30 seconds. Open the door and spray the sides of the oven with more water from a spray can. Close the door, and repeat the spray after 30 seconds. Close the door and lower the heat to 230℃. Bake for 20 minutes then test the internal temperature. The bread is done when the inside temperature is at least 94℃. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool for at least two hours before slicing.

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