Pagnotta - Round Country Bread
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
7 cup unbleached bread flour (bread flour is...well..better for bread)
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 3/4 cup clean, cool water
3/4 cup Biga (starter dough)
extra flour for the work surface
olive oil for bowl
medium-grind yellow cornmeal (Optional)
This vegan bread is a rustic loaf with a hard, deep brown crust and soft, white center.
1)Dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside till its creamy.
2)Measure the flour into a large bowl and stir in the sea salt.
3)Make a well/hole/ditch in the center of the flour and add the yeast (the yeast that should now be creamy), the cool water, and the biga (that you had to have made a day ahead), and stir with your very sturdy wooden spoon.
4)When the dough is too sticky to stir with the spoon use your hands. Knead it a few times in the bowl and then turn out onto a well floured surface. Hopefully you know how to knead because i can't break it down that far.
5)knead the dough for about 20 mins (YES, 20 mins) with a few 1 min rest periods in between for you and the vegan bread. Shape into a ball.
6)Rub the olive oil in the bowl and place your dough ball in it and spin it around so it is covered in olive oil (keeps it from drying out while rising). Let rise until doubled which is about 1 hour. Oh, cover it with a towel.
7)So now that it is huge, punch it down (Dont really PUNCH it). Fold the edges over eachother to push most of the air out. Turn it over,cover again and let rise 1 hr.
8)Ok, now turn dough out (carefully, please) onto a lightly floured flat surface. Divide into 2 equal peices. Work with one peice at a time and fold the edges towrds the center several times till you get a smooth ball. If you can't figure that out just make it into a sorta smooth ball, it will still taste good.
9)Spread some flour on the flat surface, place your dough balls rough side down and let them rise for like 40 mins, covered.
10)Heat your oven 425F and if you have any idea what a baking stone is, get it in the oven. If you are clueless then just get a flat cookie tray (dust with cornmeal if useing).
11)After 40 mins test your dough by sticking (LIGHTLY) your finger in the dough. If it pops back its ready to cook. If not start at step 8 (except the cutting part)..seriously.
12)OK, your oven is hot...find a spray bottle that you can fill with water. If you don't have one then take a cup of water and just flick the water (like you did to your younger siblings when you had water on your hands). Now, stick your loaves on your cookie sheet or baking stone and mist/ flick water into your oven (make sure your loaves are now in the oven.)
13)Bake 5 mins, mist oven and lower temp TO 400.Bake for about 20 mins, until you hear a hollow ring when you hit the bottom of the loaves with your knuckle.