Sandra's Famous Bread

The basic Italian bread recipe. The variations are almost infinite -- I especially like to add a handful of olives, some roasted garlic and rosemary.

Biga:

1/2 tsp. active dry yeast (or 1 tsp. fresh yeast)
1/2 c cup warm water
1 1/2 cup room-temp. water
1 lb. (approx. 3 1/2 cups) unbleached bread flour

Stir yeast into water to dissolve, let sit for 5 min. to activate the yeast. Mix yeast, water and flour, stirring until you have a stretchy, sticky sponge.

Transfer sponge to plastic container, cover loosely, and let sit for 8 hours or longer, until 3 times its original bulk.

Sponge will keep for about 3 days if refrigerated. Can also be frozen. Let it stand at room temp. for about an hour or so before using.

Bread:

3/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
3/4 cup room temp water
1 1/2 cups sponge
17 oz. (approx. 3 3/4 cups) unbleached bread flour or all-purpose
1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. kosher salt

Stir yeast into warm water to dissolve. Let stand for 5 min. Mix yeast, water, and sponge with paddle attachment in KA until foamy. Switch to dough hook and add flour and salt. Knead on med. speed for 5 min., let it rest for 15 min., then knead on med. speed for 1 -2 minutes. (Note: dough is very sticky at this point. Do not add more flour.) Scrape dough into plastic container or lightly oiled bowl, cover loosely and let rise for about an hour at room temp. Then refrigerate dough for at least 8 hours. Remove dough from refrigerator, let sit, covered, at room temp. for 1 - 1 1/2 hrs. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On well-floured surface, divide dough in half, knead lightly, shape, let rise for another hour. Bake, misting oven 4 or 5 times, for about 30 min.


Note: I almost always add about 1 cup or so of mashed potatoes to this recipe, and use the potato water for dissolving the yeast and mixing the dough.

Source of recipe: Sandra (shywoodlandcreature)

Sandra's Famous Bread